|SAPTHAGIRI - January 2003|
Sri Ajeya Kallam, Commissioner for Endowments, Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken charge as the Executive Officer of T.T.Devasthanams vice Dr. P. Krishnaiah who has been appointed Commissioner for risheries Department, Government of A.P. Sri Ajeya Kallam, a senior IAS Officer has considerable experience in administration at various levels. He was sworn in on December 8 at Tirumala.
Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS), the TTD run super-speciality hospital has procured a new German-made Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment. With the arrival of this Rs. 5 crore Siemens equipment, SVIMS becomes the second hospital in the State to own one.
The device is said to provide a high resolution three dimensional (3-D) image with an excellent contrast, that would enable viewing the tissues, hitherto seen hazily, thus aiding in MR spectroscopy, functional imaging and multiplanar data acquisition. Not only this, it helps in a rapid assessment of the liver in patients in a 14 second breath-holding period.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams is gearing itself to widen its information network to cater to the needs of the pilgrims thronging the hill temple daily. It is estimated that on an average about 40,000 pilgrims on week days and 80,000 plus at week-ends and on festive occasion visit the temple daily.
With a view to providing pilgrims all required information preferably at their own destinations before they set out on the pilgrimage, the TTDs Executive Officer convened a meeting with State's senior officials and those from the Railways, Transport and Tourism departments and allied wings including representatives from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The exercise was to enlist the support of the departments in widening the TTDs information network and provide the pilgrims all details like various sevas available at the temple and their timings and tariff, accommodation and donation schemes.
The meeting identified about 20 areas where the TTD and other non-TTD departments including those outside the State could interact and guide the pilgrims. Broad consensus was reached at the meeting on nearly a dozen subjects while the rest, needing approval of higher-ups, were kept in abeyance and were likely to be addressed at the next sitting.
As nearly 42% of the pilgrims visiting Tirumala are from AP, 37% from Tamil Nadu, 14% from Karnataka and the rest from the rest of the country, it was agreed that the TTD and the Tourism departments of these states have a more crucial role to play in the interactive task. As a first step in the direction, the Tamil Nadu Commissioner of Tourism, C.P. Singh, who attended the meeting, agreed to keep at the disposal of the TTD the State's tourist information centres located in 29 districts in that state besides in major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata so that the TTD could display there all its broachures, publicity material, hand-bills etc and cater to their needs. The representative from Karnataka also agreed to a similar arrangement at all the 20 centres spread over the State.
The Executive Officer also put forth a proposal to the Railways that the audio-cassettes on Venkateswara Suprabhatham be played on board trains bound for Tirupati an hour before they reached the destination to put the pilgrims in a devotional mode. Useful information needed for the pilgrims could be announced on board, it was suggested. The Railways's Liason Officer, Seshagiri Rao, who participated in the meet, promised to convey these views to higher-ups and get a positive reply. Similar assurances were drawn from the RTC and private operators as well. It is said that as many as 14 trains comprising nearly 520 bogies were touching Tirupati daily and the proposal could be tried on an experimental basis at least on the Narayanadri, Garudadri, Saptagiri and Tirumala express trains.
The TTD also struck a deal with the Srikalahasti and the Kanipakkam temple managements to mutually display their publicity materials. The TTD agreed to make its Information Centre at Chennai (T. Nagar) available for these temples to keep their broachures for the benefit of the visiting pilgrims.
Among the participants were the Tirupati Municipal Chairman, K. Sankar Reddy, and the Vice Chairman of the TUDA, D. Karunachandrababu.
The State Government ratified the appointment of Sri U. Ankaiah as 'Asthana Rangasthala Gayaka' of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams and advisor to the cultural programmes of the TTD.
The Government issued a G.O. to this effect recently. The TTD decided to utilise the services of Sri Ankaiah for the Dharma Prachara Parishad and other projects and issued orders in April this year and sent it for ratification by the State Government. Incidentally 76 year old Ankaiah, Director in the Department of Culture, is said to be the first SC to be nominated to the post by the TTD. He would serve for a period of one year with a monthly honorarium.
Sri Ugrasrinivasamurthi, originally known as Venkatatturaivar (resident Godhead of Venkatam) is said to represent the snapana beram of Sri Venkateswara. But all the holy baths (snapana tirumanjanam) are given to the processional deity Sri Malayappaswami at Tirumala.
Epigraphical records show that Sri Venkatatturaivar was the utsavabera or processional deity of the Lord in ancient times. According to recorded tradition a terrible fire broke out destroying the houses on one occasion during Brahmotsavam, when the procession was round the streets. Unable to get into the cause of the outbreak of the fire, the archakas prayed the Lord who was stated to have enjoined on them not to take Him in procession thereafter on pain of recurrence of such disasten.
As directed by the Lord, the present utsavamurthi Sri Malayappaswami was brought from the mountain glade and installed in the temple. From thence forward, Sri Ugrasrinivasa murthi is confined to the sanctum only except on one occasion viz. Kaisika Dwadasi day when this murthi is taken in procession round the mada streets before day break. The other two occasions which are solely intended for propitiation of Him are Mukkoti Ekadasi and Dwadasa Aradhana which are conducted inside the temple.
This is a unique festival observed in Tirumala. Marici's Vimanarchanakalpa mentions in detail the rituals connected with the Pushpayaga. It says that this ritual should be observed at the conclusion of any festival. According to the agama, performing Pushpayaga is equal to performing an Asvamedha yaga conferring good progeny, riches, santi and ultimately moksha. It is also said to be an utsava for fulfilling all one's wishes and for getting rid of any dosha. So it is a penetentiary as well as a propitiatory ritual.
In Tirumala, the Pushpayaga is observed on the next Sravana day after the Brahmotsavam i.e. Aippasi Sravanam. This year, it was conducted on November 11. For performing the Pushpayaga after ankurarpana, the deity was brought to the Asthanamantapa and placed in a heap of grains. On the dhanyapitha pushpa devata was invoked by keeping flowers. The processional deity was adorned with new clothes. Later, all the devatas were invoked to be present at the pushpayaga, Choicest flowers were offered to the Lord starting from the feet upto the chest, amidst chanting of the mantras.
After the rirual, the Deity was taken out in procession round the temple.