Omkarananda Kamakshi Devi Mandir

Ashtabandhana Mahakumbhabhishekam of
Omkarananda-Kamakshi-Devi Mandir
At Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas, Rishikesh
From 1st to 4th April 2004

Thursday, 1st April 2004

The auspicious ceremony began early in the morning at 5 o’clock with Nadaswaram by temple musicians of Kancheepuram, specially invited for this occasion. Along with this, the priests started preparations for Hawanas and Pujas in the newly built Yajnashala of the temple complex. After performing an elaborate Sankalpa at the Yajnashala, all the Sannyasis/disciples of Gurudev and the priests led by Shri Kamakoti Shastriji, proceeded to Gurudev’s room in the nearby Omkarananda Shanta-Durga Mandir of the Ashram to seek His Blessings and Permission for the Mahakumbhabhishekam ceremony.

Priests conducting Ganapati Hawan
Thereafter, the Head Priest Pandit Sureshji, son of Shri Kamakoti Shastriji, conducted the main Hawana and Puja in the Yajnashala. At first, Kalasha Puja, Deepa Puja etc., and then Ganesha Puja was performed. This was followed by Shodasha-Lakshmi-Avahana-Puja with a big plate of coins and lotus flowers at the centre. Alongside, Varuna Devata was invited to consecrate the Kalasha water, with which then the whole new temple area was purified. Another big Kalasha was prepared with green leaves and coconut and was taken by the priests and Sannyasis to the Ganesha temple, in front of Omkarananda Shanta-Durga Mandir, to transfer the Prana of Lord Ganesha into this Kalasha to be used for Kalasha-Sthapanam on the Omkara Mahaganapati Mandir in the afternoon.

Ganapati Talam: On completion of the above ceremony a beautiful and powerful Mantra of Lord Ganesha was recited by a veteran South Indian priest to invoke His Blessings for the Kalasha-Sthapanam. This inspiring hymn for Lord Ganesha was set to the ancient rhythm called ‘Ganapati Talam’.

Shodasha-Lakshmi-Avahana Puja being performed by Shri Kamakoti Shastriji (centre), Pandit Sureshji (left) and Pandit Sudhakar Sharmaji (right
Ganapati Homa: The morning ceremony continued with Agni-Prajvalanam, i.e. lighting of the sacred fire. The Ashtaloka-Pala-Devata-Avahanam was done, followed by Mantras to start the fire and Shodashopachara-Ganapati-Puja, in which Ahutis were offered. The main Hawan started in an elaborate way with offerings like Sahasra-Modaka (thousand special sweets), Ghee, Gulab Jamun, rice powder, wheat, white rice, fruit salad, puff-rice, white sesame etc. and along with the recitation of Ganesha-Atharvashirsham, which created a divine atmosphere around the temple complex. The ceremony ended with powerful recitation of selected portions from Rigveda, Atharvaveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda by the team of South Indian priests, and kept the devotees and Sannyasis mesmerized for hours.

Navagraha-Homa: In the afternoon, a Yajna for the Navagrahas (nine planets), viz. Surya (Sun), Soma (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu and Ketu, was conducted by the assembled priests with the recitation of appropriate Mantras. Purnahuti was offered in Yajna, which was followed by Arati, Mantrapushpam, Naivedyam etc. Consequently, Kalasha-Sthapanam was conducted on the Omkara-Mahaganapati Mandir and Prasadam was distributed to all.

Priest performing Ganapati and Ganga Puja
at Omkarananda Public Ghat
At 4.30 p.m., the priests went to the holy river Ganga at Omkarananda Public Ghat, Muni-ki-reti. They performed a ceremony to purify 16 big Kalashas and 2 big-size umbrellas to be used for Kumbhabhisheka. Kalashas were sanctified in a fire lit with dried cow dung.

Ganapati Puja and Ganga Puja were performed at the bank of holy Ganga, in which blessing and permission was sought from Mother Ganga to allow the use of holy water in performing Pujas for the opening ceremony of the new temple. Then, the priests took all the Kalashas, filled with the holy water, on their heads, and Arati was performed to them. Subsequently, the priests proceeded towards the Ashram in a religious procession led by temple musicians playing their instruments in a befitting manner. On their arrival at Omkarananda Shanta-Durga Mandir, they were received with Karpoora-Arati on a plate mixed with water and Kumkum. At that precise moment, an unprecedented thing happened. Suddenly, the priest holding the Kalasha meant for Gurudev, went into a trance. Everybody present was pleasantly surprised with this good omen, and surmised it as a sign of Gurudev’s blessing finally empowering the Kalasha.

Priests seeking the blessings of Mother Ganga
for using Ganga Water for the Kumbhabhisheka

Priests carrying holy Ganga Water from
the Ganga to Omkarananda-Kamakshi-Devi Mandir

In the evening, Vastu-Puja was performed beside the Navagraha Temple and Kalasha-Sthapanam was conducted. Hawan was conducted in Hawan-Kundas, in which fire was lighted from the Karpura Arati. A big figure, symbolising Vastupurusha, was prepared out of dry grass, and it was invoked with Mantras to purify the place and free it from all evil forces. Hawan was conducted to propitiate the Vastupurusha. A priest prepared a Mandala on the ground with white powder for the Chatuh-shashti-Yoginis, and the 64 fields, representing each Yogini, were worshipped with Mantras and offered a melon anointed with Kumkum. This way, all the Bhutas were satisfied with offerings. At the end, the effigy of Vastupurusha was lighted and the smoky Vashtupurusha was taken around the whole new temple complex to drive away all the evil forces. At this time, nobody was allowed to look at the burning effigy. Further, some seeds were planted into small vessels of clay near the Pipal tree in the Ashram premises and these were placed near the Chamundi Mandir after Puja. Later, Prof. Shukla of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan delivered a short speech on this occasion and exhorted the Sannyasis to recite Narayana-Sooktam along with him. The last ritual of the day was Rakshabandhanam conducted by Shri Kamakoti Shastriji, in which a priest held a coconut in his right hand while Shastriji fixed an auspicious thread around his wrist. Shastriji also tied sacred threads around the wrists of other priests and silver bracelets on the wrists of the Sannyasis.
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