Tirumala the divine abode of Lord Balaji, is visited by many devotees every day. Devotees worship Lord Venkateswara as per their own customs and traditions. On looking at the statue of Lord Balaji, we see one hand pointing below. This signifies that by surrendering everything at his divine lotus feet we get whatever we need. Many people offer their hair to Lord Balaji of Tirumala. Black colour represents thamas. So the significance of offering our own hair is to remove the thamas and animal qualities in us.
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Vishnu carries in his hands- sanka, chakra, gadha and padma. The sanka is a symbol of sound – this means that the entire universe is in God’s hands. The Chakra symbolizes the wheel of time. The inner significance of this is that God holds time in his grip. The lotus is a symbol of the heart. God holds in his hands the hearts of all beings. The mace is a symbol of prowess. God is the possessor of all power and strength. This is the esoteric meaning of the weapons attributed to Vishnu.
When the attributes of the Divine are studied in this manner, it will be found that divinity in any name or form bears all the attributes and potencies.
The road to the temple of Balaji is a complete zig-zag resembling our spinal cord. The temple which is on the seventh hill, represents the seventh place of the Kundalini. Just as the Kundalini rises from bottom to top from muladhara to sahasrara – the untapped energy at the base of the spine is drawn up through the awakening of the kundalini. Full enlightenment occurs when this energy reaches the top, which signifies darshan of Lord Balaji.
The various events that take place in the temple can be grouped under four major categories.
1. Nitya Kainkaryam – daily worship
2. Kaalotsavams – special calendar events, seasonal celebrations.
3. Sraddhotsavam – as desired by devotees.
4. Nimittotsavam – a prescribed celebration for purification following repairs of the temple or following an eclipse etc.
One of the major important festivals is Brahmotsavam. It is one of the most important and auspicious functions in Tirumala., celebrated very grandly as per Vaikhanasa Agama Sastra every year. Kaisika ekadasi, mukkoti dwadasi and Rathasapthami. Ugadi, Anivara Asthanam, Gokulastami. Besides, these occasions in a year, it is also conducted as a shraddotsavam as desired by devotees. Although the festivals are performed to the Omnipotent and omniscient God, they are actually meant for the benefits of devotees. The hearts of joyful devotees is the place where God resides.
Brahmotsavam means ‘grand celebration’. A celebration performed by Brahma in a legend. It is said that indra happened to kill a brahma raakshasa and in order to relieve him of this sin Lord Brahma conducted a ceremony. In this ceremony officiated by Brahma, indra held Lord Vishnu on his head during the special ritual bath ‘avabritha snaanam’. This verily was the first Brahmostavam.
Because of the immense cleaning power of brahmotsavam this utsavam is periodically performed in temples to wash away all wrong doings that may have been incurred. It is said that Lord Brahma himself rendered the first Brahmotsavam to Lord balaji of the tirumala shrine. Indeed, it is a common belief that every Brahmotsavam is witnessed by Lord Brahma. In recognition of this, a well decorated empty chariot is pulled in front of the vahanas carrying the deities at the processions held during the Brahmotsavam. Brahma is believed to be seated in the chariot overseeing the celebrations. Thus, Brahmotsavam is also referred to as ‘BRAHMAPRATYAKSHOTSAVAM’ – a celebration conducted right in front of Brahma.
Brahmotsavam celebration lasts for nine days. Brahmotsavam is not just a temple ritual, but is a grand festival for the whole town. It begins with ankurarpanam and concludes with Dhwajavarohanam. One each day the utsava murthis will be decorated and taken in procession, once in the morning and once in the evening on different vahanams. In the night, there will also be unjal seva. The intricate step by step details of the main events in the Brahmotsavam celebration at tirumala are as follows.