The Hindu Temple of Atlanta in Riverdale, Georgia, (HTA) organized a spectacular Ganesh Utsav celebration from August 25 to September 2 2017, which attracted hundreds of devotees from Atlanta and places as far as Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Hindu Temple of Atlanta under the leadership of Ravi Chander Garu (Volunteers Committee) has been hosting the Ganesh Utsav for the past four years. A majestic ten-foot eco-friendly clay idol of Ganapathi was again specially made in Hyderabad for HTA and installed in the specially built canopy in the forecourt between the Balaji and the Shiva temple.
Through the nine-day Utsav, elaborate rituals and archanas were performed, and shlokas and Ganesha mantras were chanted by priests Sri Srinivas Sarmaji, Sri Pavan Kumar ji, Sri Siva Naga Kumar ji, Sri Sunil Kumar ji, Sri Gopal Bhattar ji, Sri Ravisankar ji, Sri Veda Vyasa ji; and Sri Murali Krishna ji..
A Ganesha-making workshop was held for kids. HTA supplied materials and instructions to over 2,000 families and kids to make about 2,500 environmentally friendly clay Ganeshas. Families enjoyed a day of designing and creating their very own personal Ganeshas. A puja for these handmade Ganeshas was performed in the mandap later.
HTA provided laddu and vada for naivedyam, and parents brought Ganesha’s favorite food, modakam. The grand pooja by Sri Srinivas Sarma ji concluded with Mangala Aarathi and blessings to the children.
Swathi and Shrikant emceed the Cultural Program with verve.The visarjan in Savannah,GA was emceed by Radhika and Nanda.
During the Festival, many Indian organizations like the Punjabi Society;GCANA representing the Gujarati community in Georgia;GATS;TANA;TAMA;ATA’s(to name a few) members and students of many Dance and Music Academies in Atlanta enthusiastically participated in the rituals and in the spirited day-long cultural program. The Dance and Music Academies had trained their students and dressed them up in colorful costumes to perform in the festival.
These students vied to outperform each other in solo and group items before the imposing idol of Lord Ganesha.The audience were treated to classical; contemporary, folk and fusion, dances, dance-dramas and devotional songs in Hindi and Carnatic. The Natyajyothi Kuchipudi Dance Academy performed captivating Brahmanjali and Ganesh Pancharatnam.Pushyami Gottipati,Artistic Director of Sai Nrityalaya, presented a riveting dance-drama Sri Rama Pattabhishekam,and alsoGanesa Pancharatnam and her students presented Kolatam dance to Ramadasu keertanas.
Akhil presented a heart-thumping Sri Ganesha Deva Sri Ganesha dance, while PK Raj and little elves performed a fast beat dance. There was a hypnotic Odissi dance too by Bhikipta Panda.Srinivas from India sang folk songs. Neelima Gaddamanugu’s Nataraja Natyanjali students also enthralled the audience with a few elegant dances. Some of Atlanta’s personalities noted for their dancing and/or singing prowess(some of whom run their own Dance and Music Academies)like Jyothi Chintalapudi;Revathi Komanduri;Sridevi Dadithota;Pushyami Gottipati;Sasikala Penumarthi;Padmaja Kelam;Divya Srivastava; Renuka;Aparna Turaga;Hema Shilpa;Varsha Jinka and Savitha Viswanathan also regaled the audience either through dancing or singing. This was not all.The energetic dancers clad in white kurtas, (complimentary by Sunil Gotoor)and with saffron headbands played Holi with colored powder, and also performed Kolatam(dandiya) to high octane beat of dhols,
The day was marked with nonstop entertainment and spiritual fervor. Over five thousand devotees and visitors participated in the preculmination of the nine-day celebration with a grand Ganesh Nimajjanam ceremony.
A huge procession around the temple was accompanied by live music. It was exciting to watch a shower of flower petals float down gently on Ganeshji from a helicopter!
HTA President Kusuma Kotte personally and on behalf of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees thanked everybody that participated in this year’s festivities
By Mahadev Desai
Pics.by: Dr.B.K.Mohan; Anil Goud and Neelamegam Subramanian