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A Celestial Wedding

K. Arvind

A Celestial Wedding
Sri Rama Navami Celebrated at the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire

 à¤¶à¥à¤°à¥€à¤°à¤¾à¤® राम रामेति रमे रामे मनोरमे |
सहस्रनाम तत्तुल्यं राम नाम वरानने ||

srirama rama rameti rame raame manorame |
sahasranaama tattulyam rama nama varanane ||

I experience the joy of Sri Rama by dwelling on his divine name,
which is equivalent to a thousand names of the Lord.

(Shloka from Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram)

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire celebrated Sri Rama Navami, the festival that marks the birth of Lord Sri Rama, on Saturday, March 28th, 2015. The grand celebration was well-attended and included a Laksharchana (worship in which the various sacred names of Sri Rama are collectively chanted a hundred thousand times) and Sita Kalyanam (enactment of the divine wedding of Sri Rama and Sita Devi).

Sri Rama Navami

The Temple had held a consecration function at the end of February, to celebrate the “moorthi pratishtapana" (installation of deities) of “Sri Ram Parivar” (family of Rama) consisting of Sri Rama, Sita Devi, Sri Lakshmana and Hanumanji. These beautifully carved vigrahas (sculptural embodiments of deities) formed the centerpiece of the “Sri Rama Navami” celebrations at the Temple. Sri Rama Navami is an important Hindu festival that falls on the ninth day (”Navami”) of the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar, and commemorates the birth of Sri Rama. Sri Rama is worshipped as the very personification of Dharma or righteousness, and his life teaches us how to face the challenges of life gracefully.  Sri Rama Navami is celebrated in a grand manner in Temples in India and abroad, and most Temples in Southern India observe the occasion by reenacting the divine wedding of Sri Rama and Sita Devi in a function known as “Sita Kalyanam.”  Attending Sita Kalyanam is considered auspicious, and the function is a delight to watch and participate in. See this essay from the Harvard University Pluralism Project.

Sita Kalyanam

The “Sita Kalyanam” function held at the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire captured the essence of a typical South Indian wedding, with the distinction that the bride and bridegroom were Sita Devi and Lord Sri Rama themselves, represented by their beautifully-decorated vigrahas placed on a ceremonial swing. The function had all the gaiety, joy and color of an Indian wedding – colorfully decked bride, groom, and guests, charming rituals, melodious music, and tasty food. The wedding conducted by Sri Veeramani, who officiated as a priest, and Sri Balakrishnan, started with customary Vedic chants by Ritwiks, as well as Dravida Veda (Divya Prabandham) chanting by those trained in this form of devotion. A choir of ladies then set the tone for the function by singing a few lines from the Thyagaraja krithi “Seeta Kalyana Vaibhohame”. This was followed by Pravara (Sanskrit for “most excellent”), in which the guests split into two groups, one group representing Sita Devi, the bride, and the other group representing Sri Rama, the groom, and extolled the lineage of their respective sides to 3 generations. The groom was proudly introduced as the great grandson of Emperor Raghu, the grandson of Emperor Aja, the son of Emperor Dasaratha, and as the form of Lord Narayana himself. The bride was enthusiastically introduced as the great grand-daughter of Emperor Swarnaroma, the grand-daughter of Emperor Hrasvaroma, the daughter of Emperor Janaka, and as the form of Devi Mahalakshmi herself. The other important rituals that were part of this wedding reenactment included “Kanya Danam” (where the bride’s father gifts the bride to the groom), “Mangalya Dharanam” (adorning the bride with the auspicious mangalya necklace), and “Oonjal” (“swing” in Tamil), in which the bride and groom were seated on a ceremonial swing and rocked gently, as the musically talented among the ladies celebrated by singing various traditional wedding songs in a memorable manner. The singers consisted of Smt. Sudha Murali, Smt. Shanthi Satish, Smt. Avanija Mutupuru, and Smt. Usha Dwarakanath. A team of children including Arvind Sathappan, Srikrupa Satyavageeswaran and Siddanth Gnaneshwaran also lent their musical talent to the evening.

Appeal for Support

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, whose mission is to serve the cultural and religious needs of the Hindu community in the New England area, started its operations 7 years ago. It is located at 525 Broad Street, Nashua, NH. The Temple has recently embarked on an expansion project to add Sannidhis (sancta sanctorum) for Sri Medha Dakshinamoorthi and the Navagraha Devatas, to provision for performing Homam/Havan, and to expand the cultural school premises and priest quarters. The Temple has raised about $45000 of the estimated $200K for this project to serve the community, and seeks your help and generous support in reaching the targeted amount. While no amount is too small, the Temple suggests that you consider donating amounts of $10000, $5000, $1000, $500, $100 or higher yataa shakti. You can make this donation by participating in the “Donate-A-Brick” fundraiser, by sponsoring a Chant for Dharma at your home, or sponsoring an event at the Temple. The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire is 501c(3) certified, and all donations to the Temple are tax-deductible.

"If we practice Dharma without expecting any reward in the belief that Isvara gives us what he wills, and in a spirit of dedication, the impurities tainting our being will be removed and we will obtain the bliss that is exalted" – Sri Kanchi Paramacharya.

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