- Seva in Tirumala
Arjitha Seva means performing seva to the Lord on payment of a fee to the temple. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams oversee the worship of the Lord and his finances. There are three kinds of Sevas: Daily Seva, Weekly Seva and Annual Seva.
The Temple addresses the main person performing the seva as Grihasta. All people performing sevas are advised to report to the Vaikuntam Queue Complex at least 45 minutes to 1 hour before the start of the seva. Usually the time of reporting to the Queue complex is provided on the purchased ticket. Most of the Sevas require the pilgrims to adhere to traditional dressing norms: dhoti around the waist and uttariya (upper cloth) on the shoulder for men and saree salwar for women. The only exception to the rule is Archananantara Darsanam.
- 1 Daily Sevas
- 2 Weekly Sevas
- 3 Annual Sevas
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Pilgrims can perform sevas to both the main deity and the utsava murthi.
Suprabhatam is the ritual performed in the Thirumani Mandapam, in front of the Bangaru Vakili, the golden doors leading to the sanctum, to wake up the main deity and his consorts from His celestial sleep by chanting of the sacred Suprabhatam hymns consisting of
- Suprabhatam (Waking the Lord): 29 slokas
- Strotram (Hymns to the Lord): 11 slokas
- Prapatti (Surrender to the Lord): 16 slokas
- Mangalasanam (Prayer to Lord's Glory): 14 slokas.
Early in the morning at a time fixed the previous day itself 'golla' (cowherd) will go to the residence of the archakas & collect them who have been allotted the duty in the sanctum sanctorum that day. The arcaka would have by that time had his morning bath, completed his nitya-karmanusthanas. He will then do pranama to the key of the sanctum & proceed to the temple holding the key on his head, accompanied by paricarakas, temple paraphernalia and music. The 'golla' would be holding a fireband in his hand when the priest has reached the main entrance of the temple. The cowherd would go back and bring the Jiyyangar or his representative, Ekangi to the temple. The Jiyyangar or Ekangi will come carrying on their head a box, which contains one key (duplicate) and seals etc.
Meantime, the temple administration representative would have come there with one key. The system is triplicate lock system with arcaka, Jiyyangar and temple authorities having one key each. The arcaka will first symbolically place his key in the hand of the Dvarapalaka on the right of the Bangaru Vakili. The priest will do pranama to dvarapaladeras near the Bangaru Vakili. Then he will take the key from the dvarapalaka and seal is broken and the doors of golden vakili will be opened uttering suitable mantras. The 'golla', the paricaraka, jeeyar & arcaka will go in and the Bangaru Vakili doors will be closed from inside.
Bangaru Vakili is a Telugu word which means 'golden doorway'. Here the two doors are massive and covered with gold plate. One should not miss studying these two doors in detail as they depict religious facts. On one door all the ten avataras (incarnations) of the Lord are depicted. The other door depicts the dradasanama devatas viz. Kesara, Narayana, Madhava. Meantime in the Mukhamantapa the devotees for the Suprabhataseva would have assembled. There will be priests outside who will start reciting suprabhatam, stotra, prapatti. Mangalasasana verses composed by Sri Pratiradibhayankaram Annan. While inside the Bangaru Vakili the antarala the golla with his fireband (torch) would have lighted all the lamps. The ekangin would have lighted the Brahmakhanda and sara lamps.
The next ritual is to remove Bhoga Srinivasa. Who acted as Sayanabera the previous night. When he was ceremonially put to sleep in a cot during Ekantaseva. He will be lifted from that cot and will be taken back to the sanctum to rest near the feet of the Dhruvabera on the left side. That place is known as Tirasthana. The height of the icon gifted by Samarai, the Pallava Princess does not reach even the anklet of the Dhruvabera. But all worship in the sanctum is done to this idol.
The vaikhanasa practice is to establish a connection between the Dhruvabera and the Kantukabera through a sambandhakurca during worship. This sambandhakurca is a bunch of 32 blades of darbha (grass) tied by a knot in a rightward direction. The knot will be about 2 inches (angular) in length and will be in the middle thus having about 4 inches (angular) of darbha (grass) fire in the front. The front portion is set to represent Brahma, the knot Vishnu and rest Rudra. This sambandhakurca is placed in the space between the Dhruvabera and the kantukabera with the front portion of the kurca towards the kantukabera. The belief is that the sanctum is water, while dhruvabera is the earth below and the kantukabera is the flower that is nourished by the earth and water. The sambandhakurca is likened to the stalk of the flower, which is connecting link between earth and flower through water.
After restoring the kantukabera to Jivasthana, the sayana mantapa is cleared of the cot and other articles used for Ekantaseva the previous night. The doors are open and by that time the reciters outside would have completed the mangalasasana. In the sanctum, the jiyyangar will light the camphor on a plate and give it to areaka who performs arati to the Mula Vigraha. The devotees are then allowed to pass through the Bangaru Vakili and go up to Kulasekhar for the Visvarupa / Suprabhata darshan.
The tradition in Tirumala is that Brahma conducts worship every night for the Lord at Tirumala. Actually every night before closing the doors if the Garbhagruha five gold cups of water with the spices specified for puja as per agamas, added to them along with other puja articles are left at the feet of the Lord so that Brahma may use them for the worship of Lord in the night (Brahmaradhana). The devotees who go for Visvarupadarsana get the Tirtha believed to have been used by Brahma & other Gods for the puja offered in the night. Another important feature is that only during Suprabhata-darshana is the devotee able to have a darshan of Lords sacred feet without any gold kavacha on the fact. It is removed during Ekantaseva when Bhoga Srinivasa is put to bed, a half billa (half a table-like) perfumed sandal paste is placed over his chest, and other billa is placed on the figure of Alamelmanga on the chest of the Mulavigraha, another billa is kept along with puja articles for Brahma to use during his nights worship to the Lord. In addition, another two billas are placed on Lord's feet after removing the gold kavacha. These billas on Lord's feet are placed there, after wiping off the Civet oil with which his feet are anointed before placing the gold kavacha on them. During the Suprabhata-darshan the devotees are given as prasada a bit from these two sandal paste tablets kept on Lord's feet in the night and some will be given the small piece of perfumed cloth with which the Civet oil is wiped off the feet of the Lord, so that they may reverentially press the cloth on their forehead and eyes. The sandal paste is called Sripadachandana and the cloth is called Sripadavastra.
The seva lasts around 30 mins and starts at 3:00 a.m (2.30AM on Fridays). The piligrims are then allowed to enter the Bangaru Vakili, giving them the best view of the beautiful Lord. Each seva ticket provides entry for one person. 2 small laddus are provided to the pilgrim as prasadam. The seva does not allow children below 10 years though parents are allowed to carry children less than 1 year.
Thomala Seva: Thomala is an abbreviated form of the Tamil word, Thoditta Malai, meaning garlands which are worn. The Thomala Seva is conducted in the Tirumala temple after Vishwarupa Darshanam. It is Arjitham, i.e., can be attended on the payment of certain amount, on all days except Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On these days, it is conducted in Ekantham.
The Seva begins immediately after the Vishwaroopa Darshanam. The Sanctum is swept with a broom and dried flowers are removed from the idols. The priest performing the Seva hands out a golden pot to a Paricharaka, or servant. The servant goes to Akasha Ganga Thirtham, 3 miles from the temple and gathers water. The Paricharaka returns with the water pot in a procession, on an elephant.Two Ekangins, the representatives of Jeeyar Swami carry the floral garlands from Yamunothurai, a room in the second enclosure of the temple (Sampangi Pradakshinam), where the garlands are prepared, in a procession around the Dwajasthambam and the Balipeetham, accompanied by Nagari, Jheghanta and Firebrands. They carry the garlands in two bamboo baskets, called Thomala Butta, on their heads.A third priest carries a smaller basket of tulsi leaves. Meanwhile, in the sanctum, the priest would have received the Akasha Ganga water and arranged Bhoga Srinivasa and the gold cover of the feet of the Mulavar for Thirumanjanam, or bathing ritual. Upon receiving the garlands, Abhishekam is performed with holy water, milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, turmeric and sandalwood pulp. Purusha Sukta is chanted. After this Bhoga Srinivasa is replaced to His position at the left foot of the Mulavar. The holy feet of Sri Venkateswara is treated with civet oil, and a new silk cloth laid upon it, tulsi leaves are placed and covered with the gold cover.
Then 28 stanzas of Sri Aandaal's Tiruppavai ( 30 Tamil hymns scripted by the incarnation of mother earth (Sri Bhoomi Devi - one of the divine consorts of Lord Sriman Narayana) by name Sri Andal of Srivilliputtur who married The Lord Sri Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam) are recited as the Lord is decorated with the garlands. Other deities in the sanctum, also receive garlands.
This Seva is performed in Ekantham (private, with only priests and TTD officials) during the months of May through July and again in the month of "Margazhi" (Margasira in Telugu) which roughly falls anytime between the English months of mid December through mid January. Devotees are allowed to sit all along the corridor leading to the Sanctum sanctorum at Tirumala, from the second doorstep, extending into the foyer area where the imposing idol of Sri Garudalwar (Lord Vishnu's mount) kneels in obeisance to His Lord.
The enchanting Seva lasts for about 45 minutes, giving the devotees to feast their eyes on the Lord.
On completion of Thomala Seva, Archana or Sahasranamarchana (1000 Name Recital) is performed to the main deity Lord Venkateswara amidst chanting of his one thousand names. After the recital, blessings are obtained from the Lord for the whole world as saying the name and gotram of each the ticket holders would make it a lengthy process as there would be about 200 Seva karthas every day. The entire ritual lasts for 30 minutes. Archana is then performed to Vaksha Sthala Lakshmi Thayar in Ekantham.
Unlike other Vaishnava temples, the sahasranamarchana invoked is not the well known Vishnu Sahasranama but Sri Venkateswara Sahasaranama which is unique and recited to the Lord only in Tirumala. While the origin date of the seva is not known, an inscription from 1518 A.D. is the earliest recorded instance where sahasranamarchana is mentioned.
Lord Venkateswara receives the second and third archanas in ekantam later in the day. Archana is an arjita seva on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and is performed in ekantam on other days. Each ticket allows one person and 2 small Laddus are offered as prasadam for this arjita seva.
In tirumala it is very difficult to state the name and gothram of every sevakartha, as there would be some 1000 people who participate, so the gotram is not read. Instead the Lord's blessings is sought for the welfare of the whole world.
At the completion of Archana, pilgrims are allowed to have a darshan of the Lord. This darshan is called Archananantara Darsanam ("Darshan after Archana"). Usually, pilgrims are allowed to enter through the last prakaram(outer courtyard) for this darsanam. But the piligrim rush each day doesn't allow to beyond the first prakaram(outer courtyard). Each ticket allows one person and two small laddu are offered as prasadam to pilgrims.
Under the new system (2009), up to 12,000 tickets will be issued on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while the number is restricted to 5,000 on other days.
Earlier, only 750 AADs were being issued under open category through Vijaya Bank and from 3,500 to 5,000 tickets under discretionary category by Chairman, EO, JEO, DyEO (temple) and board members. Increase in the number of AAD tickets in the open system will enable the devotees to purchase tickets directly at the counters without any hassles. It is also being planned to issue cellar tickets in a similar way.
Initially, till the year 2000 all pilgrims are allowed to enter the last prakaram(outer courtyard) because there are less crowds. The TTD also maintains a limited tickets but now the quota for this AAD is increased by the TTD to accommodate more people.This makes the people to worship the lord from a very long distance that is from dwarapalaka itself. TTD should look some other alternative for crowd management techniques as the crowd will grow in near future.In a heavy crowd times these tickets were sold as high as 20000 tickets per day.
Currently issuing ticket for this Darshan has been withheld. The Seva has been cancelled with effect from 26 November 2009.
Srivari Kalyanotsavam is performed to the utsava murti - Lord Sri Malayappa swami (instead of the main deity) and his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. A purohit conducts the marriage and an archaka is consecrated to perform other rituals on behalf of the bridegroom. The wedding ceremony is held according to Vaikhanasa Agama rituals and starts with the Panchamurthi Puja. This is followed by recitation of Vedic mantras and pronouncing the family pedigree of the brides and bridegroom. The idols of the Lord and his brides face each other with a thera (screen) in between them. After the priests perform appropriate homas, the bridegroom and the brides are allowed to see each other at the appropriate auspicious moment as the screen is removed. This is followed by Mangala sutra dharana, Thalambralu and then Lord and his consorts are garlanded.
This seva is not performed on important festivals like Srivari Brahmotsavam. Pavitrotsavam, Pushpayagam etc. and on the days of solar and lunar eclipses. The duration of the seva is about one hour. Previously each ticket entitled two people; nowadays each ticket entitles only one person to attend this arjita seva and they are awarded one silver Pendant (2 grams), one big laddu, one vada, one vastra bahumanam (Cloth Gift consisting of one silk Uttariyam for gents and one cotton blouse for ladies), along with Lord's akshantalu ('sacred rice' used for blessing). At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
The practice of Kalyana utsavam started in 1536 AD when Tallapakam Tirumala Ayyangar conceived the idea of celebrating the marriage festival of Lord Malayappa swami and the ceremony was conducted over five days in the Tirumamani mandapam.
This seva starts exactly at 11:30am and ends up at 1:00pm followed by darshan. More than 500 couples will take part in this seva.
Dolotsavam (Unjal Seva)
Dolotsavam is performed in the adhala meda (Mirror Hall) as it is popularly known. The hall is in Aina Mahal (Addala Mantapam) opposite Ranganayaka mantapam where Arjita Brahmotsavam is performed. The Aina Mahal consists of mirrors on four walls and a central stage with a provision for unjal (Swing). Sri Malayappaswami, Sridevi and Bhudevi are seated in the unjal (Swing) and the deities are swung to the accompaniment of Veda parayanam and mangalavadyam.
The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
Arjita Brahmotsavam is performed daily and is the abridged version of the Brahmotsavam event. The seva is done in the vaibhavotsava Mantapam where the vahanams are kept throughout the year. In the seva, Sri Malayappaswami is seated on Garuda Vahanam, Hanumantha Vahanam and Peddasesha Vahanam in that order and offered worship. This seva is conducted after the Dolotsavam is completed.
Each ticket allows 5 people to participate in the seva. The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
Arjitha Vasanthotsavam is conducted daily as an abridged version of the Vasanthotsavam. The seva is conducted in the Vaibhavotsava Mantapam . The seva is offered to Sri Malayappa swami and His consorts - Sridevi and Bhudevi. The seva begins with perfumeries and scents applied to the deities. The veda pandits chant Purusha suktam,Narayana Suktam,Shri Suktam and Bhu Suktam. Abhishekam is done to the Lord and His consorts with sacred water, milk, curd, honey and turmeric. Finally, sandal paste is applied to Sri Malayappa Swami and consorts. At the conclusion of the Seva, a perforated plate is held on top of the deities and water poured, creating a shower.
The ticket holder are given vastra bahumanam, 5 big laddus, 5 small laddus and 5 vadas as prasadam for this arjita seva. The duration of the seva is about one hour. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
Sahasra Deepalankarana Seva
Sahasra Deepalankara (1000 Candle decoration) seva is the only daily seva that is performed outside the temple. The seva is performed in the Unjal mantapam located on the south eastern corner of the Srivari Temple at 1730 hrs every day evening. Sri Malayappa swami along with Sridevi and Bhudevi are taken out in procession where one thousand wick lamps are lit. The lord is seated in an unjal in the midst of the lamps and Annamaya Sankirtanas and vedic hymns are sung to the newly wed God and Goddesses. On occasions, group dance (typically from Karnataka, though not restricted) is also held. As a recent practice, after the Sahasra Deepalankarana seva, the Lord and his consorts are taken on a procession on the 4 streets surrounding the temple, before he is taken inside the temple complex.
The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum. The duration of the seva is 30 minutes.
Ekanta Seva is the last seva performed to Lord Venkateswara before closing the temple for that particular day. Bhoga Srinivasa idol is laid on a gold Vuyyala (Swing) in the mukhamantapam using silver chains. Milk, fruits, almonds are offered to the Lord and performed chandanam is placed at the feet of the main deity after removing the kavacham covering the feet. Chandanam is also placed on the chest of Bhoga Srinivasa, Alamelumangai (on the chest of main deity). Since it is believed that Lord Brahma comes to perform prayers to the Lord after the temple doors are closed every night, chandanam, water and puja material is left for his usage. Water filled in silver cups are also kept for being consecrated by Lord Brahma and the same is distributed as 'thirtha' (holy/sacred water) to all pilgrims on the next day.
Tarikonda Venkamamba's harati in a plate inlaid with one of the dasavatarams (10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu) along with pearls bought by Venkamamba's descendent is waved to the Lord. During the entire ceremony, descendants of Tallapaka poets sing Tallapaka sankirtanam. In the Dhanurmasa (Marga masa), the idol of Lord Krishna is put to sleep in the vuyyala instead of Bhoga Srinivasa.
This last ritual is in the night. This is called ekantha seva. This is also known as Rathri pooja as it is done in the night. This pavalimpu seva is an arjitha seva. It lasts for 45 minutes. During this ritual the garlands adorning the moolavar are removed. 'The gaddam bottu i.e. the 'Sripada renu' on the chin is removed and fresh one put. The gold kavacha for the feet is also removed. The priest performs Sripada seva viz. at the feet of Dhruvabera, two full tablets of sandal paste are taken and after covering the bare feet with a vastra, the two tablets are placed on the two feet over the cloth. A tablet is placed on Alamelmanga on Dhruvabera's chest (Vakshasthala Lakshmi). In the meantime the sayana mantapa is ready for the deity. A silver cot will be brought in and suspended from silver chains from the roof in the sayana mantapa. The floor will be covered with Rangavalli design with rice powder. A velvet bed is laid on the cot. The sanctum is cleaned as the Kantakabera is removed from the Jeevasthana. Now milk is offered to the Kantakabera in a silver pot. The 2 queens of Krishnadevaraya (Chinna devi and Tirumala devi) are gifted each a gold cup (374 tulas) for offering milk during this seva. One another large silver plate with cashewnuts, almonds, dried grapes, clarified butter, fruits, sugar candy & tambula (50 betel leaves, nut, coconut gratings, cloves, cardamom and Japatri) is also offered. Then the Kantakabera is laid on the cot with its head to the south, sayana sukta is recited. Half a tablet of chandana is placed on the chest of the sayanabera. Meantime at the Bangaru Vakili, Mukhaveena will be played. Then a descendant of Tallapaka Annamacharya will sing some songs. Aarti is offered to the Kantakabera with Dasavathara aarti plate i.e. each day the aarti plate will have one avatara of the Lord engraved in it. Simultaneously the puja articles will get ready for Brahmaradhana in the night. Another half tablet of chandana paste will also be kept there and 5 vattils (cups) will be filled with water from Akasaganga and other fragrant articles. Then the priest goes to the sanctum to put out all the lights. Previously the Brahma-akhanda lamp was kept lighted as that light lit by the creator while conservating the shrine. It is said that every day this lamp used to consume not less than 17 kg of clarified butter. But nowadays all the lights are put out in order to avoid fire hazard. The Bangaru Vakili is closed and bolted with archakas key followed by Jiyar's and administrator's keys. The temple authorities scale the door lock. On Varalakshmi Vrata day alone after Ekantaseva a few more rituals are observed. Later the archakas go to Potu (kitchen) and Thirumanjanam is done to Potu Thayar. She is adorned with a new vastra and naivedya is offered to her with preparations made out of Bengal gram. With that the curtain is drawn for the day on the daily worship rituals in the temple. Quite often the rush is so much in the temple town that even within 15 minutess of closing the doors and depositing the keys in the matha, steps for opening it for the next day's suprabhata seva start. The deity is not given the luxury and comfort of a long sleep. He is ever at the beck and call of his sincere devotees. 'Edukondalavada', 'Apadbandhava', 'Vaddikasulavada', 'Sankataharaka', 'Venkataramana', 'Narayana', 'Govinda' - the devotees cry & call for his grace.
This exercise is done everyday, either as an arjita seva (paid service with public allowed to view) or in ekanta (without any public presence) based on the pilgrim rush on that day. Each ticket allows entry for one person and 2 small laddus are awarded as prasadam along with the mixture of milk, almonds from the seva. The duration of the seva is 30 mins.
The exact date of start of the seva is unknown while records exists of Krishnadeva Raya's wives - Chinnaji Devi and Tirumala Devi presenting golden cups to offer milk to Lord in 1513 A.D.
Vishesa Pooja (Monday)
Every Monday after the second bell, the utsava vigraha is brought to the mantapa for what is called 'chaturdasa kalasa visesa puja' (i.e. with 14 kalasas). Seven vessels have the following seven materials (dravyas); Gingelly oil milk, curds, ghee, yellow grain (aksata), darbha and panchagavya and the balance of seven vessels contain suddhodaka (i.e. pure water) with these 14 kalasas, Abhisheka is performed to the utsavamurthi and the two consorts. The ritual goes like this. The archaka seeks the utsavavigrahas anujna i.e., followed by Ankurarpana. This is a very simple ritual of merely putting the grains with palikas. As soon as the palikas are ready, agnihoma is started. Then aavahana is done to the kalasas (i.e., invoking the presence of the deities). The sankalpa to those who are sponsoring a particular arjitha seva is done and the visesha puja starts with rendering upacharas to God, culminating in offering aarti. As panchasuktas are recited thirumanjanam is done to the utsavamurthis starting with milk, water, curds, water, sandal wood paste and water. After the conclusion of abhisheka, aarti is offered and the idol is given a bath with water in the kalasas. Purnahuti is offered so as to herald the conclusion of the homa. Naivedyam is offered to God.
Each ticket entitles 1 people to attend this arjita seva and they are given one big laddu,one vada as prasadam and vastra bahumanam (a silver laced upper garment) and sathari. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.
This special puja is done normally on Mondays and will not be observed when special festivals like Brahmotsavam, Pavitrotsava etc., take place.
Ashtadala Pada Padmaradhana (Tuesday)
In this seva the god is worshiped with 108 Golden lotus flowers while performing a special archana. Admission for this seva through "vaikundam complex" and conditions for attending this seva is the participant should attend this seva along with his wife as "dampathi sameetha". It is Ashtadala - Swarna - Padma - Puja. This special puja is celebrated on Tuesdays after the second bell is over and Jiyar swamy with the Sri Vaishnavas comes out. The arjitha sevakas who paid for the seva are allowed to go and sit in the mantapa between Bangaru Vakili and the Kulasekharappadi. Once a Muslim devotee offered 108 golden lotuses each weighing about 23 gms. In this visesha puja, the archaka offered these flowers at the holy feet of the Lord with the uttering of each name, during the recitation of Dvadasanamas of the Lord after offering dhoopa and deepa to the main deity. Later archana is offered to Goddess Lakshmi & Padmavathi. Then ratha aarati is offered first followed by ordinary aarti. Then arjitha sevakas are given vastra (upper cloth) along with sathari and they are given five big laddu,five vada's as prasadam.
Sahasra Kalasabhishekam (Wednesday)
This is another unique and exquisite Seva offered to The Lord Venkateswara. It is performed every Wednesday Morning starting 7AM. This special puja is observed before the second bell is over in the morning i.e., after Sattumurai Bhoga Sreenivasa is brought outside the Bangaru Vakili. The idol is placed facing east. The idol will have sambandha daaramu (Telugu word) i.e., a thin rope will be tied connecting it with the Mulavigraha in the sanctum. This rope will be tied round the feet of Bhoga Srinivasa at this end and the other end will be placed near the Kati Hasta of the Mulavigraha, thus symbolically involving the Mulabera with the pooja and making it obvious that Bhoga Srinivasa is only representing the Mulavar. Then the utsavavigraha (Malayappa swamy) is also brought and placed outside the Bangaru Vakili facing south. It is as if the trio is presiding over the special puja to be commenced. 1008 silver vessels filled with Abhisheka teertha are kept along with 8 more parivara kalasas and one gold vessel filled with water. The devotees who have paid for the seva are seated in the mantapa around 1008 kalasas and sankalpa is done. Then the puja starts with the recitation of panchasuktas and pancha-santi-mantras. As these mantras are recited, the archakas do Thirumanjana Abhisheka to the idols viz, Bhoga Srinivasa, Malayapa swami and his two consorts and vishvak sena with water in the 1008 kalasas and the eight pavithra kalasas. Finally the golden vessel with water will be carried by one archaka to the accompaniment of recitation of Vedas and mangala vadya in a pradakshina manner round the ananda vimana prakaram(outer courtyard) (inner prakaram), round the dhvajasthambha and then taken to Mulasthana (sanctum). Then at the Mulavarsannidhi ekantha - ashtothra - archana is offered to the main deity. This archana is not open to public but is done behind the curtain drawn at the sanctum. The archakas sprinkle (proksana) the water from the golden vessel (Swarna kalasa) on the feet of the deity then symbolically including the Mulavigraha also in the sahasrakalasa Abhisheka puja. The vigrahas near the Bangaru Vakili will be taken back to the sanctum. The second bell rings. Then in the presence of temple officers, Akshataropana ritual will take place in the sanctum i.e., Akshata (holy yellow rice) will be offered at the feet of the main deity. Then the archaka sprinkles some of those grains on his head and then the rest is kept for offering to the temple executives and devotees who take part in the seva. By that time, the curtains will be drawn and the arjitha sponsors have a darshan of the Mulavar. They will be given vastrabahumana, sathari and teertha. One ticket for the Sahasrakalasabishekam allows 6 people to participate with one couple allowed for Sankalpam.
"Prasadam" - 7 Big Laddus, 1/4Kilo each of Sweet Pongal, Pulihora and 7 dosas and 7 vadas.
Tiruppavada Seva (Thursday)
This is a unique and exquisite Seva among all the methods of worship offered to The Lord Venkateswara. It is performed every Thursday Morning starting around 5:30AM. Here is the background.
Starting every Friday thru the early morning of the following Thursday, The standard famous Huge, Wide "Naamam" (a decoration with perfumed camphor paste across the forehead for all forms of Vishnu, The Vaishnavait Hindu God) adorns Sri Venkateswara's forehead covering all but part of His Eyes.
Removing this Naamam and bathing The Lord (Abhishekam) and again adorning Him with a New wide Naamam on the same day (Friday) was considered too time consuming, given the rush of pilgrims and the time constraint for a Seva.
Therefore, The TTD introduced a New Seva every Thursday Morning by the Name of "Tiruppavada" (translated, means a divine skirt, or loosely, a veil). A Huge mound of cooked Tamarind spiced rice (Pulihora) is poured on a gold plated tray (Size about 6 ft X 4 ft) and placed directly in front of The Lord such that it is about a couple of feet in front of His steed, Sri Garudalwar, in the foyer area of The Temple's Sanctum Sanctorum.
Amid Chanting of Mantras, The previous wide Naamam is peeled off and a thin Naamam is adorned on His forehead just to cover the space between His eyebrows. When this happens, it is believed that The Lord's first gaze after "opening" His Eyes (because they were covered by The Naamam) should NOT fall on mortals, because it has so much power. Instead, it is made to fall on the mound of "Pulihora" directly in front of Him, thereby sanctifying it and reducing the intensity of His Gaze. The "Pulihora" therefore acts like a Veil ("Paavada" in Telugu/Tamil) protecting devotees from His Powerful Gaze.
This new Thin Naamam then stays for the entire Thursday, and finally peeled off completely in the early hours of the next morning (Friday) during Abhishekam.
One ticket for the Tiruppavada Seva allows 6 people to participate including one couple for Sankalpam and begets a full basket of Sacred food cooked inside The Temple - "Prasadam" - 7 Big Laddus, 1/4Kilo of Pulihora, 5 humongous Jilebis (only cooked for this Seva), 5 dosas, and 5 big Vadas and 5 Jilebi Vadas.
Abhishekam is a Sanskrit word for the sacred bath that is performed to the idol of the main presiding deity in any Hindu temple. Based on ancient Hindu spiritual customs, this is performed once a week, typically on Fridays. As a Hindu custom, this Seva is for wedded couples (a male husband and a female wife) Only. As a "don't-disturb" rule, children under 12 years of age are not admitted - No exceptions. In Tirumala, it assumes a most ethereal, rare significance in that it is the most sought after "seva" (form of worship for the Lord by a devotee). Devotees virtually make a beeline for this Seva because watching the priests bathe the idol is the most emancipating of experiences, given that the belief of the devout that the idol is actually a manifestation of the Supreme Divine being Himself and not just a manually carved idol.
Types of Abhishekam Seva: This Seva is of 4 kinds - Only 3 of them are advertised, the 4th being the most expensive of all Sevas in Tirumala, and naturally, the least advertised.
- Musk Vessel
- Civet Vessel
There is really no difference in the current manner of treatment of devotees who paid for either of these Sevas. It used to be different in old times when the number of devotees availing this seva used to be smaller.
Each of these cost INR 750. Each of the couples are given a small silver vessel (that can hold about 0.5 gallons of water) that the priests help fill with water brought from the Sacred Hill stream of "Akasa Ganga" (The Heavenly Ganges). The couples carry the water round the Temple once and are then led into the Sanctum Sanctorum where it is taken from them and poured on The Lord during the Sacred Bath. The 4th Seva is called "Vasthralakarana Seva", or "Mel Saatthu Vastram" (In Tamil, this literally means "The cloth that adorns the body exterior"). This costs INR 12,250 and has a waiting list of 7 years. Only 8 tickets (for 8 couples) are reserved every Friday for this and the TTD gets request list of at least 100 every time. The lucky couples get the extreme bliss of carrying the heavy silk Holy Sari that will adorn the Lord subsequently in a heavy silver plate, carrying the silver plate on their head around the temple before being let into the Sanctum Sanctorum. The husband carries the sari while the wife carries the silver vessel and partakes in a small worship before the Abhishekam and hands over the sari from the priests to her husband.
For that Friday, the sari that was carried by the first of the 8 couples adorns the deity but the other sarees are catalogued and dates are assigned when they would adorn the deity.
The Seva Detail: It takes about 3 hours from around 2.30 a.m. through 6.30 a.m. for the entire Seva to complete and to come out of the temple. A team of 4-5 priests perform the Abhishekam based on a previous roster. 2 priests carry the water from outside in huge vessels into the Sanctum Sanctorum. A 3rd priest holds a perforated circular silver disc of about 3 ft in diameter over the deity's head. As for the deity, all bedecked gold and diamond ornaments, clothing, and finery is taken before this bath. The Lord only wears a white loin, and a heavy gold necklace bearing a pendant with Sri Mahalakshmi's seated pose. 4th priest pours the water from those huge vessels into a small silver special nosed vessel and keeps on handing it over to the chief priest who stands atop a wooden stool to give him that height to reach over The Lord's head, and pours the water slowly to the marvellously melodious vedic chanting of the Pancha Suktam - Purusha Suktam, Sri Suktam, Bhoo Suktam, Nila Suktam, and Santhi Vachanam. The Pancha Suktam is recited by 4 other priests whose only duty that morning will be the chanting of the Suktams. The water that the chief priest pours over The Lord's head trickles onto His Body through the several perforations in the silver plate that the 3rd priest holds. The sight simply enthralls the devotess into ecstacy and can only be beheld visually. Just before the chanting of the Sri Suktam, one of the priests brings a heavy silver cup full of semi-fluid, sandal powder that is viscous yet fluid enough to flow like syrup. As the Sri Suktam is recited, the chief priest pours this sandal paste solution over the heavy golden necklace of Sri Mahalakshmi that hangs over Lord Venkateswara's left side chest.
The Abhishekam concludes with the Santhi Mantram and curtains are drawn to dress up The Lord - the devotees await their visual delight - Lord Venkatewara with a freshly prepared Namam, dress, and some of the ornaments.
Nijapada Darsanam (Friday)
Archana anantara darshan on Friday is called Nijapada Darsanam. The seva allows piligrims to see the feet of The Lord Venkateswara. The Devotees are allowed one step inside the First prakaram(outer courtyard) of sanctum. Each ticket (Rs. 200/) allows one person and two small laddu's is offered as prasadam.
The main annual festival of the Tirumala temple is the Brahmotsavam festival coinciding with the Dussara festival though Brahmotsavam function is carried out twice in the temple (the lesser known of the Brahmotsavam occurs earlier in August–September). Apart from Brahmotsavam, the following functions are conducted every year:
- Padmavathi Parinayam
- Abhideyaka Abhishekam
- Pushpa Pallaki
- Koil Alwar Thirumanjanam
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