PEARLAND – It was a supremely divine Maha Sivarathiri Day celebration at Sri Meenakshi Temple on Friday, Februaru 21st. The whole ambience turned into a Deva Loka (heaven) with the non-stop chanting of Om Nama Shivaya. More than a thousand ardent devotees worshipped at the temple on this most auspicious day, with well over a hundred staying up all through the cool and clear night.
Devotees started streaming in soon after the doors opened in the morning and swelled to a large gathering when the puja started at twilight. The decorations were stunningly beautiful, especially the heavenly display “Kailas Darshan of Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi on the Rishaba Vahanam” that was conceptualized and created by Priest Manicka Bhattar with the help of the very talented temple artisans. The puja started with the traditional Ganesh puja, followed by Punyahavachanam (purification), invocation of the 108 conches, then by a Homam (offering to Agni) to the chant of the most divine vedic mantra Sri Rudram, followed by the offering of Purnahuti. Next was Abhishekam, when Lord Sundareswara in the form of the sacred Siva Linga was bathed in milk, honey, fruit juices, yogurt, vibhuthi, sandal, rose water, coconut water and many other ingredients, and finally with the sanctified water from the 108 conches. The Lord then was spectacularly adorned with Alankaram and when the sanctum doors opened, there was a spontaneous and collective cry by the devotees – “Om Nama Shivaya”. A special Archana was performed with gold Bilva leaves when everybody followed and repeated after the priests, the sacred mantras. The evening puja concluded with the Maha Arathi. This was followed by the most awaited Athma Linga puja, where hundreds of devotees lined up, waited for their turn patiently, to perform their own milk abhishekam. This abhishekam performed to the Siva Linga invoked in one’s own heart and and soul is cherished as a moment when the devotee is closest to God.
A wonderful cultural program was coordinated by Secretary Parthasarathy where many talented dancers performed. More ardent devotees stayed up all night constantly chanting the Sivanama for Chatur Kala Pujas (Abhishekam & puja with vedic chantings and bhajans) at mid night, 1:30AM, 3:00AM and 4:30AM. Priests Balaji Sethuraman and Kalyanasundaram performed the abhishekams and pujas with utmost sincerity and dedication, and this definitely filled the entire temple with bhakti and spirituality. Overall, it was a very blissful Sivarathri at MTS. The temple provided light refreshments coordinated by Susheela Denduluri with a team of volunteers, which was supplemented by prasadams from devotees. People from far and wide make it a point to worship at the temple because this temple is very unique and most authentic, following all the traditions from India. Chairman Dhani Kannan thanked priests, silpis, staff, board and advisory council. M.K. Sriram, Dr. Alagappan and Dr. Chitra Kumar were the coordinators of this event along with RAC chair Vinod Kaila. Above all, the temple runs on the great spirit of volunteerism. This was exemplified by all the volunteers who worked very hard to make garlands, make and serve food and helped with the puja. The fulfillment that fills the hearts of the devotees is the ultimate blessing of Lord Shiva.