Thursday, Apr 18 2024  


It was a feast to watch hundreds of people of different religions, castes and creeds in addition to different nationalities gathered at Ujjain to perform a variety of Pujas with sincerity and devotion. This was made possible by H.H. Sri Saidas Babaji, who with his infinite love and grace, gave devotees the opportunity to witness and participate in the Puja Mahotsav, the first of its kind in Ujjain, India, which took place between Nov.10 and Nov.17, 1997.

Devotees from around the world were lodged in a wide range of hotels around the city. All were picked up personally by volunteers from airports, train stations, etc. Excellent transportation arrangements were provided to devotees from their hotels to Dharmshala and Prashanti Dham grounds. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at Mahakal Dharmshala which is about 8 miles from Prashanti Dham. Commendable arrangements for pujas were made at the Prashanti Dham grounds with huge vented tents erected and carpeted for the comfort of devotees. Life size pictures of Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba, Sri Saidas Baba ji and many other deities were placed on stage. Prashanti Dham, on the banks of Kshipra river, the site of Baba’s future Ashram, was where all the pujas were performed, while Mahakal Dharamshala hosted all cultural and evening functions in its huge auditorium.

For the Pujas, seating arrangements were made for couples with a complete set of items required for each specific puja. The items included a silver idol of the deity to which the puja was being performed, and other accessories like a lamp, fruits, flowers, turmeric, kumkum, etc. The Puja Committee did a wonderful job in making arrangements in spite of limited time between pujas.

The Utsav began on Monday with Suprabhatham and Nagarsankeertan followed by Ganapathi Puja and Homam. Hanuman Chalisa, Sri Shirdi Sai Baba's Paduka Abhishek and Puja were performed on Tuesday. Devotees were given idols of Hanuman and Sri Shirdi Sai Baba's padukas after the puja for future worship in their home shrines. That evening was the spectacular Krishna-Tulasi wedding ceremony, every bit of which devotees enjoyed witnessing. Sri Saidas Babaji was very cheerful, as always, with his radiant smile, swinging and dancing to the music of auspicious moments in the ceremony. The Nadaswaram troupe brought out their best to match the mood of the function and Baba's dance. It was a moment to watch!

Priests of high caliber were invited to perform Mahachandi Yagna on the following day. Many large pits (Homa Gundams) were constructed inside the tents to perform the Yagna. The Yagna continued for three days and finally ended with Purnahuthi on the third day. A large variety of offerings were made to the fire including different foods, stones and gems, and even clothes. Devotees were given the opportunity to go around the fire pit and make offerings personally.

The highlight of the Chandi Yagna was the presence of heads of other spiritual centres in India. These included H. H. Jagatguru Sri Bala Ganga Dhara Nath Mahaswamiji from Sri Adi Chunchunagiri Maha Sansthan, H.H. Sri Sri Sri Shivapuri Mahaswami from Omkar Ashram Bangalore, H.H. Sri Sri Sri Vivekananda Mahaswamiji from Sri Kaveri Sansthanam, H.H. Sri Karnic Babaji, H.H.Sri Dabral Babaji, and a representative of H.H. Satguru Sri Sai Kumar Babaji from Hyderabad.

It was a magnificent scene to have Darshan of so many divine souls under one roof on the sacred Bhoorni. A breathtaking miracle happened on the second day of the Yagna when one of the Swamijis broke a coconut and observed the unusual growth of the kernel in the shape of Lord Ganesha on the outside and that of Lord Shiva in the form of a Lingam inside the fruit. His interpretation of it was that even the Gods were happy with the ongoing yagna. What else would anybody ask for when they witness such a miracle in front of their eyes.

While the Chandi Yagna was being performed, preparations were being made for the Sahasra Kalasha Abhisheka of Lord Venkateshwara. The ritual began with bringing in the idols of Lord Venkatashwara, Sridevi and Bhudevi from Madras after performing preparatory pujas for their pratishtan. The pujas included soaking the idols in cracked wheat, water, flowers, etc. Sahasra Kalasabhishekam which means pouring water on to the idols from a thousand and eight pots was done methodically by the priests who were specifically invited from Tirupathi, the Abode of Lord Venkateshwara.

The Abhishek was followed by Venkateshwara Kalyanam (marriage) which was another event that devotees enjoyed participating to the fullest extent. The most prominent part of this divine wedding was the 'baraat'. The idols were brought to the stage with music and dance and the wedding was performed with all the grandeur. In the evening, there was Sahasradeeparadhana, in which everyone had a chance to light a lamp out of a thousand offered to Lord Venkateshwara. That was a special day called Karthik Poornima, an auspicious day to light a lamp. This was followed by Unjal seva, swinging the Lord in a decorated swing. What was even more delightful was a special surprise program for Babaji & Sri Manojji organized by the volunteer group. They burst crackers and sang songs like Akhanda Jyothi Jalao that Babaji likes the most and invited Him to light the lamp. The atmosphere on the day was full of joy and ecstasy.

There were bhajans, and discourses by Babaji on the evenings of the first couple of days of the Mahotsav. There were various music and dance programs by both local and national artists. Babaji also honoured many people who had devoted themselves to this occasion both physically and financially. The generosity of Babaji is evident from the fact that he presented gifts in the form of clothes to children and adults.

On the last day was the Punya Vitharan by Babaji which is distributing his Punyam acquired through penance, yagna and other means, to everyone who participated in the utsav. There was nobody in the auditorium who was not shedding tears when Babaji washed the fruits of his penance into a bowl. the water from which was sprinkled on everyone in the room. Babaji also gave an emotional message that he will be with us forever and will guide and protect us. He also said that Sri Manoj will continue His tasks after Him and that He will make His presence felt through Sri Manoj. Babaji blessed one and all with the same smile filled with abundant love and affection. How can we pay tribute to Babaji for arranging such an event and make us partake the divine fruits of His wisdom? On behalf of everyone who attended the function, I express my humble pranams, sincere gratitude and thanks to Babaji for showering His love, Divinity and the grand treatment at the Mahotsav.

Sai Ram!

Sis Sujatha Anant
'Sai Dham' Long Island, New York, USA


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