SVBF – Anniversary Celebration
Lalitha Sahasranamam Laksharchana on June 22nd
SVBF’s anniversary celebrations are a yearly pinnacle in the Hindu community in Toronto. To commemorate Lalitha Sahasranamam recitation over thousand times since Kumbhabishekam in 2010, a Laksharchana was conducted on the third anniversary. The organizers were able to accommodate around 160 devotees to perform the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a kumkum Laksharchana on Shri Maha Meru brought from Sringeri, India. The speciality is that it was sent with the blessings of Jagadguru Sringeri Acharya.
The day commenced with Kalasha sthaapanam and Rudram chanted by a group of devotees until noon which was a prelude to the next day’s events of Lalitha Homam.
After a short break for lunch, Smt. Alakananda and her entourage created a resonating effect with their Soundarya Lahari recitation. Soundarya Lahari, which is known to have one hundred shlokas is nothing but a form of verbose in praising HER – the Shakthi on her radiating beauty. Each shloka is embellished with phrases that glorify her importance and power in realizing HER. Superficially each verse provides the significance attached and empowers us to overcome any daily trifles with ease but on a spiritual level they are the essence of Mantra, Tantra and Yantra meditative path that was laid out by Adi Shankaracharya. Smt. Alakananda’s recitation before the Laksharcharna set the meditative mood for what was to follow in the evening.
To make the entire experience more sacred, it so happened that the 3rd year anniversary occurred on a full-moon day. With a series of sadhana’s organized for the devotees to worship Sharadamba, the monthly Sathyanarayana Puja started at 4:30 PM to conclude at 5:30 PM. The Sathyanarayana Katha which is derived from the Skandha Puraana is fruitful when recited by a family on a full-moon day.
As their recitation was coming to an end, the sanctum sanctorum was gradually getting filled with devotees who were gathering for the Lalitha Sahasranamam Laksharchana. It is one of the most auspicious and rare occasions to have taken place outside Sringeri. Laksharchana is a unique and one of the most powerful ways to worship Shakthi. In fact, Lalitha Sahasranamam consists of 1,000 names of the goddess with no repetitions. It is one of the powerful ways that could be followed by any person to emulate the vibrations in self or the surroundings. One had to participate in the event to experience the divine ambience felt throughout the chanting.
Shri. Raghu Ranganathan, the religious committee chairman lead the event by reciting the Namavali first allowing the devotees to chant which had a vibrating effect for the participants and spectators. He was ably assisted by Shri. Ramakrishna Bhat and Shri. Manjunath Siddhanthi, our priests. Shri. Raghu promptly seized the opportunity to explain the significance of reciting the 1,000 names of the goddess as an archana on the Maha Meru. For a layman, it is crucial to understand the meaning and significance of reciting the Sahasranamavali in order to understand the power it holds while performing the pooja. It took almost two and a half hours to complete the pooja that was followed by Mangala Harathi and a prasadam that consisted of a special Sharadamba’s coin and fruits presented to all the participants. The day came to an end with a sumptuous Mahaprasadam to all the devotees. It is crucial to mention that the organizers and trustees encouraged all the devotees who entered the temple premises to participate in the event providing opportunities to one and all.
The week long meticulous arrangement for this special event was impeccable. Starting from the items required for the puja to the seating arrangements and naividyams in individual mandalams were set to perfection. In all there were twenty mandalams each having eight devotees performing the puja to Shri Maha Meru.
Some of the comments by devotees are:
- The day brought together the human force breaking the barriers of caste, creed, nationality, colour and communities. It is certainly a unifying factor.
- Some of the participants who have considered Toronto as their home for many decades informed that this was the first time that such a large gathering of devotees said to have performed a Laksharchana on Shri Maha Meru.
- The chanting was easy to follow even for participants who had never chanted before.
- The arrangements and friendly approach by the volunteers are examples of service mindedness and considerations shown towards the devotees.
- The breaks in between the chanting made the young and the old alike to recharge themselves fully to complete the puja with added focus. The breaks were filled with excellent lectures of the religious and spiritual meanings of Laksharchana provided by Shri Raghu Ranganathan in a more digestible language. It was also a “food for thought” for many youngsters.
- Many mothers were happy to have their children of all ages participate enthusiastically. These not only made them learn the significance of the Laksharchana but also connect easily to one’s religion and culture.
June 23 – Lalitha Homam
The second day’s events were elaborate starting at 8:00 AM ending at 9:00 PM making it wholesome and extremely fulfilling. Ganapathi Homam followed by Lalitha Homam was the highlight of the morning session. Special Abhishekam was performed on each deity; this is one of the three main Abhishekams performed every year on the main Deity Sharadamba. Chanting of various Sukthams during Abhishekam created the right atmosphere for one and all to experience the vibrations. Excellent rendering of Devi Krithis by Smt. Akhila and Kum. Sowmya during alankaram enhanced the significance of the day. With Mangala Harathi the morning session concluded with Maha Prasadam.
To bring in a joyous and fun filled afternoon, Smt. Akhila and team conducted the game “Jeopardy” on Hinduism for children of all ages supported by parents. The game show was a learning experience both for the children and elders alike. The questions on various topics, the use of technology to present the show, the fairness in time management, and the opportunities provided to the children to nail the answers shows the extensive research and planning that went into making the show.
The game show was followed by a soothing Bhajan recital by Shri Vinayak Hedge and group that not only relaxed the mind and body but set the ambience for a quiet meditative time after day and a half activities.
The day concluded with Lalitha Sahasranamam, followed by Rathosavam. The concluding part had a special Ashtavadana Seva that consisted of chanting of four Vedas, Samskrita Bhashanam, Nrityam, Sangeetham, Vadhyam presented by devotees, which was a rarity in Toronto.
In all the two day events brought smiles and positive thoughts in all the devotees’ lives. The impact it had on the children growing up here on religion and culture was immense. The planning, preparation and organizing the event of this magnitude are commendable. This was one of the most unique and memorable celebrations within the community in the recent past.
- Report by SUCHITRA GUNTUR
Videography : Mr. Gopal Krishna
Photographaphy : Ms. Nidhi Ravishankar