Friday, October 30, 2009

Tirupati Venkateshwara Darshan - A Very Rare Happy Darshan



I had been to Tirupati Venkateshwara temple in  Andhra Pradesh, many times in the past years and used to come back frustrated after standing in the queue of unruly crowd for hours together, then having the darshan of Venkateshwara just for a fraction of a second or at the most, one second!  Still, we were going there again and again, because this god is our family deity  (Trichy Gunaseelam temple also) and we are supposed to visit these temples every year, which we don't follow (!) regularly, but do it at least once in 2-3 years (my son is rolling his eyes!). I prefer Gunaseelam temple, which does not attract much crowd and  a more peaceful place than Tirupati.

This time, my sister-in-law had booked for 'Tiruppavaadai Seva' (she had booked for this seva 5 years back, for Rs.5000/-) for which, apart from the couple, who book the ticket, 5 others can accompany them.  Thanks to her, we had a lifetime experience!

This seva was conducted in the mantap, which is in front of the main deity.   A huge mound of puliyodarai rice (tamarind rice) was spread in the shape of a rectangle (around 6-7 'long  x 4' broad x 2' high, approx.) with rounded corners, on a wooden plank, at the center of the mantap. The edges were carved like steps and the flat top had 7 mounds, depicting seven hills - four small mounds on four corners, two, next to the front two mounds and one huge mound at the center.  

The ticket holders were asked to sit on both sides of the rice hill and sankalpa was taken, i.e. the couple were asked for their and their family members' names, nakshatra, gothra (family lineage)  and the priest repeated with a plate of flowers which were touched by the couple. These flowers were used in the pooja later on.  We sat behind them.  Then, the mantras were recited for about 20-25 mts.   After aarthi, the couple were allowed for darshan first.  Then, we went inside. Normally, we are allowed to stand and have darshan near the dwaara paalakaas. Only during some sevas, the devotees are allowed inside.  

The inner area (Garbha Gruha) was dark and just the diyas were lit and the deity stood there, a medium sized idol,  without much ornaments - a dark stone statue with just shankha, chakra and the other two palms/hands,  in gold. The usual kireeta (crown) was not there on the head!   The feet were not covered with gold. The torso had just a yajnopaveetha (sacred thread), a folded angavastra and a blue dhoti in the waist.  The naamam also did not have any diamonds, just plain naamam (two white straight stripes on the sides and a red one in the middle)on the forehead.  The glittering jewellery and the kireeta, made the idol look huge and tall, on normal days, I think.  We had the normal darshan also, the previous evening - the usual flash of a darshan!

As the whole world knows, Lord Venkateshwara is the richest god in the world and the idol is always covered with huge emeralds and diamonds.  This time we had the darshan of the original idol, for the first time.   Normally, when we come  out, we just feel relieved and breathe easy.  This time all of us never expected this type of darshan.  We were sort of dazed and we will never ever forget this incident in our lives.  

I got this video of the pooja of Lord Sri Venkateshwara, which was shot in the year 1966.  

During the abhishekha, you can see the original vigraha (idol).  We saw this, which we had not seen on our previous visits.  Vishnu Sahasra Naama is heard in the beginning and later on, the famous Carnatic singer Balamurali Krishna and Ghantasaala are singing in the background.  


This also is an old video clip, which is very very interesting:


We can see the deity clearly.  Each and every part of the idol can be seen clearly.  I noticed, one more thing...they sang a stanza of Tamil 'Thiruppaavai' !  Thiruppaavai was written by Aandaal, for Kannan (Lord Krishna), like Meera wrote songs on Kaanha .  This is news to me! Famous Telugu playback singer Ghantasaala is singing in the background.   Laddoos are carried in cane baskets!   The devotees were able to see aarti and then the priest places 'jhataari' on the devotees' heads, which is not done now...too much crowd!

I thought of booking tickets for this seva, but was told that it is not available for another 7 years!  This seva is done only on Thursdays and is in high demand, naturally!  Anyway, I am happy I had this chance of a good darshan this time.


Temple Gopuram Photo courtesy: Amit Vasisht.


32 comments :

R. Ramesh said...

hey friend..congrats on the gr8 darshan u had...and sure u prayed for all of us blog friends also...wish u and near ones all the best..

Varunavi said...

U are very lucky to have such a darshan.

U wonderfully described seva and the lord sandhya.It is very rare sight to watch lord with out flowers and ornaments,there is some word for god in that form not able to recollect it.

wordsndreamz said...

It must have been wonderful to have such a darshan! When I went there, it was just the normal 2 sec darshan after standing in queues! It must have been such a treat to have such a darshan.

And it is booked for the next 7 years! Not surprising! The seva sounds very special.

'I prefer Gunaseelam temple, which does not attract much crowd and a more peaceful place than Tirupati.' - I prefer such temples too - less crowded and much more peaceful.

I have heard about Andaal when I was in college,I think.

That was lovely to read, Sandhya! Please do write more about temples - I love the way you write about them.

hitch writer said...

Booked 5 years ago ??? for 5k bucks !!!

I dont mind temples normally though I dont visit too often but sometimes I do accompany Mom... thankfully my wife aint one who likes either... but crowded temples... !! phew... me no likes...

Renu said...

You are lucky Sandhya!..Tell me what time they do this and what is this pooja meant for, I mean what is the meaning of that word, what is that thiruppaav

sharu said...

hi,mami thanks for giving us more info about tiruppathi, especially the old video clippings. even in 1950 it was crowded like today!!! thanks for prompting me to search more about tiruppathi!

manju said...

Such a wonderful description of the Seva, Sandhya! I could imagine it very clearly from your words. You were lucky to get such a chance!

The more famous temples are always very crowded- such a pity. The Siddhivinayak Temple here in Mumbai generally has a long queue, particularly on Tuesdays, and sometimes people wait in line overnight for Darshan in the morning!

Sandhya said...

Ramesh: Thank you, Ramesh.


Varunavi: Long back, nirmaalya darshana seva was there. My sister-in-law and some other relatives had seen it. Now, we have to book for everything and we get tickets for 2-3 years later date. Too much crowd. I know that some word is there to describe the plain idol darshanam. I might remember tomorrow!


wordsndreamz: Gunaseelam Venkateshwara idol is a miniature of this idol and this temple also is an old temple. It is in a small village and the road to the temple is narrow but goes on the banks of a canal, which comes from river Kaveri. So the area is green.

Many South Indian Kings - Chola, Pandia, Chera, Pallava kings donated lands for this temple and that might be the reason we see Tamil scripts on the stone walls and Thiruppaavai stanzas are sung there.

I will write about Kaala Hasthi and Veera raghava temple later on. They are also very old temples. Old temples will have great vibrations with so many devotees' prayers from thousands of years, Smitha. So I like visiting them.


hitchwriter: My son has stopped accompanying us! I don't compel him too!


Renu: This pooja/seva was done from 6.30 to 7.30 - 8 am. They do this seva only on Thursdays. Thirupaavadai seva means thiru - Shri, Paavadai means long skirt. I don't know more than this. I will enquire and tell you. My sister-in-law goes to Tirupati every year on her Wedding day and gets tickets for different sevas. We go along with her - free trips!

Sandhya said...

Sharada: Yes, I liked the videos. We are able to see the way the pooja was conducted in those days - we are not able to see them now!


Manju: Yes, thanks to my sister-in-law, we had this type of darshan, this year.

I have heard of Siddhivinayak temple and yes, once the temple becomes famous, it attracts crowd, naturally. So we try to visit Tirupati in the middle of the week, when the crowd is less. Did you see the old videos?

kanagu said...

Actually I hate Tirupati temple and didn't want to go there anyday in my life... its not because of god but because of those V.I.P queues and all...

Why the discrimination in front of the god also... are V.I.Ps are also other people know??? and time is important for everybody just because of money somebody were able to see god longer and quicker and others not is a real sickening thing...

Sandhya said...

Kanagu: I don't disagree with you, in this matter, Kanagu! I am not very happy with many things at the Tirupati temple. But we Indians are like that! When we are ready to pay (this is like bribing, I know), even the temple is ready to take it! Now, if we don't like to pay, with so much crowd, we can have free darshan after 15-20 hours of waiting. Or forget about temple darshan! Some of my relatives (my sons too), never liked going there and don't go there now. No harm is done. Individual's belief, that is all.

kavita said...

SANDHYA...first of all sorry for late visit,lots of guests at home.

OH how lucky you are...all my family members (parents side)have had Tirupati darshnam before except for me...when will i get the chance i don't know.Thanks for the virtual darshnam....i will be back to read it properly once again..have a nice day.

Sandhya said...

kavita: Our family comes first, Kavita. We can write and comment, when we are free and enjoy doing this. This should not become a burden. Feel free and read when you can.

I was not here for 2 days and now I must start reading others' posts! I had to write about the visit immediately or else I might forget some important points!

radha said...

It's been a while since I went to Tirupati. But my previous visits I have been disappointed. I feel it is unfair that some of us can afford to get ahead of the others who have come so far, especially the sick and old, but I guess there is really no other choice to clear crowds faster and make some money for the temple in the process. And the attitude of the officials at the temple is appalling. They push you around, there are people who hand in money to the priests to get some more prasadam. And it leaves you rather disheartened. After all it is a place of worship.

Sandhya said...

Radha: I too have all these grievances about this temple. I had never enjoyed visiting Tirupati. Yes, if you press a Re.10 note in the 'pusher's hands', who stands to push us off, we are allowed to stay one more second! This is happening in front of the God! Give one more 10 to the prasad distributer, you can have sakkarai pongal or venn pongal, instead of hot curd rice. I can go on...This is the first time, I was distracted and forgot about all the discrepancies of the temple and enjoyed the darshan of the original idol of Venkateshwara. During Chandrababu Naidu's period, all these officials were scared to take bribe and everything was systematic. Now, back to pavilion - throw money and get what you want attitude, is there.

I just tell myself that this is a very ancient Hindu temple and we should remember only this theory.

At Dharmasthala and Udupi in Karnataka, special darshan is not there. But they are not world renowned Tirupati! People come here from all over the world to just have a glimpse of this god. Whether god is there or not, that is immaterial. People believe that this place brings them happiness and this belief might boost them to tackle the day-to-day problems of their lives.

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KParthasarathi said...

You are a blesssed soul.Kodutthu vecchaval.All my experieces were like your 'flash darshan' and my mind was always on the man pushing me than on the Lord till I turn back.I do not go these days for this reason

Destination Infinity said...

We used to walk up as a family back then and it was fun with so many people walking together. I have gone there so many times (This is our family deity too).

It seems some foreigner visited the place before some years and was put in the free darshan queue... He was stuck inside for two days and then came out and visited the administrative office and as a result of that, they introduced the hand band, fingerprint etc, so now tickets can be reserved! Once before many years, we had to wait for 12 hours for the darshan in the 50 rupees queue!!

Swaram said...

Thatz really nice to know Sandhya :) Truly a life time experience :)

Its the manedevaru on my Mom's side too :) We always book n go for the Suprabatha seva to hv a nice or atleast decent darshan of the Lord :)

The seva seems to be really nice with the depiction of 7 hills et..al :)

To get Nijapada darshana is truly a blessing they say :) God bless u all :)

Sandhya said...

K.Parthasarathy: Welcome here! This is the first time we had a proper darshan! Nijamaagave niraiya koduththu vachchirukkom! Thank you.


Destination Infinity: Yes, now it is not very difficult to go inside and we can go at the prescribed time, finish darshan and come out. I feel they can build a conveyer belt and people can just stand without pushing each other, have darshan and come out with hair and dress intact! It is not easy to manage so much people.

Here, in our family, my sister-in-law is a regular visitor to Tirupati and she takes us along with her. If she doesn't take us, we don't go there that easily! This time, seven of us went there and had a good time (my 2 year old grand niece was a good entertainer).


Swaram: Yes, we are lucky to have 'nijapaada darshana'. I wrote this post with the happiness still inside me!

deepsspeakingup said...

that was a wonderful description of the darshanam,Sandhya.You're fortunate that you could go inside the garbhagruha and see the Lord being served from so near.

Even I like to visit temples when it is less crowded.I fell so much at peace then and much closer to God.
I noticed how you could mention the minutest detail of the seva.That would have been possible only in a peaceful surrounding.It must have felt so redeeming.

Beautiful!

SG said...

Excellent post. I have some questions. How many minutes you were able to see the main God. How many people were there total. I hope there was no jarugandi stuff.

SG said...

One more question Sandhya. This old video clip from Youtube. Is this the video of real Lord Venkateswara of Tirumalai.

Sandhya said...

Deepsspeakingup: Yes, the crowd was less and so 'jaragandi' was less! So for the first time after many years, we stood there to see the god properly.


SG: The couples who had bought tickets must be around 25. Every couple can bring 5 people along with them. So, when compared to the other days, the crowd was less. First, the couples were sent inside and after they came out, we went inside. I must have been in front of the god for 3-4 seconds and that was enough for me to notice all the details and my other family members also remembered some other things.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? Sorry. Both the clips were around 50 years old and the god was Venkateshwara. I picked these videos to explain that I saw the god, nearly like that without all the jewellery, flowers etc.

Shail said...

First of all CONGRATULATIONS Sandhya on the Blogadda pick!
You have an excellent post here. Though I myself am not a believer in poojas so conducted, (or rather I question them in the sense, how and why money seems to buy some people entry into the temple for a convenient darsaan... and well some other questions like that :P ) your blog itself is well written and in detail. Good going Sandhya.

Sandhya said...

Shail: Thank you Shail! I too have questions for this type of darshan!! Please read in my reply to the other comments.

Sandhya said...

bloggadda: Thank you! You made my day! This is the first recognition for me and an important one! Thank you, blogadda!

I am used to reading Amitabh's blog in bigb.bigadda.com and so your name has registered in my mind as bigadda (bigb adda!). This is the main reason for my name 'maradhimanni'. Sorry for changing your name!

lostworld said...

I have never been to Tirupati.
Happy you had a peaceful darshan. The more chaotic, the less pleasant it turns out. Liked all the little titbits you provided too.. :)

Sandhya said...

lostworld: I liked this trip, very much than all the others.

R. Ramesh said...

thanks ya S..for your kind words..it's really a gr8 feeling to be in touch with good people like u all..thanks to the blog..best wishes always

evanescentthoughts said...

Congrats for the spicy saturday pick :) You are really lucky to have obtained a Darshan of the god. Nice narration there.

Sandhya said...

evanscentthoughts: Thank you!

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