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New Dhwaja Stambha installed with devotion, gaiety at Atlanta temple

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By Ravi R. Ponangi

Atlanta, GA: A newly made huge and brass covered Dhwaja Stambha (flagpole) was installed in front of Siva Temple located in the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale, Georgia, on November 11. The Dhwaja Stambha was ceremoniously consecrated in the presence of Swami Tattvavidananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. The new Dhwaja Stambha installed in front of Siva temple is part of the ongoing completion of the Siva temple built in 2004.

Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati is an eminent Vedanta Scholar, an expert exponent of Vedantic treatises, epics, the Bhagavad-Gita and many Upanishads. He is a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.  While giving his blessings to the jubilant devotees immediately after the consecration of Dhwaja Stambha, Swami Tattvavidananda expressed his happiness and commended the Indian community members, who are thousands of miles away from their native places, for attending the installation of Dhwaja Stambha in accordance with Agama Shastra. He further said Indians outside India were patronizing the Indian culture and heritage more than the people in India. He explained  the significance of Dhwaja Stambha and Panchakshari mantra.

The three-day Dhwaja Stambha pratisthapana celebrations studded with rituals and stuffed with devotion started in the evening of November 8 with sankalpa and concluded with a grand finale on November 11 with Dhwaja Stapana, Dhwaja Maha Kumbhabhishekam and Dhwaja Arohana. Thousands of devotees and visitors from all over neighboring states thronged the temple to witness the sacred Dhwaja Stambha pratisthapana.

A huge Yagasala (canopy) was erected in front of the Siva Temple foreground, under which decorated homa- kundas were constructed. The temple’s resident priests, Srinivasa Sarma Adaraasupalli, Pavan Kumar Kistapati, Narasimha Murty Challa, Siva Naga Kumar Dusi, Sai Swarna from Memphis temple along with Vedic pundits conducted homas chanting Vedic slokas, in front of the consecrated fires. Some of the highlights in three-day ceremonies were Anugna, Ganapati puja, Punyahavachanam, Vastu puja, Mrutsangrahanam, Agni pratista homam, Pradhaana Kalasa yaga Sala Pravesam.

Siva temple, being built in the traditional South Indian style, Dhwaja Stambha is an important feature. Dhwaja Stambham is like a divine antenna to receive cosmic energy and to communicate devotees’ pious wishes to the Almighty. Hindu temples are not just structures and idols. Temples are not only complete residences but also compared to human body for the presiding deity. There are specific steps in the installation (pratisthapana) of a Dhwaja Stambha in a temple premises as outlined in the Agama Shastras. Dhwaja Stambha also represents all the deities installed in the temple; and therefore, devotees traditionally prostrate and pay their obeisance at the base of the post, satisfied having prostrated before all the deities in the temple at the same time.

In order to cleanse all impurities, a replica of Dhwaja Stambha made in Silver was immersed in water (Jalaadhivasam) along with paddy (dhaanyaadhivaasam), milk ( ksheeradhivasam),  new garment (sayyadhivasam), and flowers (Pushpaadhivaasam).

Kurma yantra was engraved on a metal plate and Vedic rituals were performed and placed under Dhwaja Stambha along with gems, Nava Ratnas, gold, coins and Panchakshari (Om Namah Sivaya) Mantra Likhita Japa books written for several months by several devotees. The purpose of these ceremonies was to purify the Dhwaja Stambha and to confer divinity upon it.

The Hindu temple of Atlanta, Riverdale has two temples in the same location -- one temple with Lord Balaji built in 1990 as the presiding deity and the other temple with Lord Siva built in 2004 as the presiding deity. In addition to the presiding deity, both complexes housed other deities.