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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fast, Feast for the "Richest God" in the World

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Well I am not kidding about the post title. He is indeed the richest god in the world.And he is none other than Lord Venkateshwara, also known as Balaji, Srinivasa, Govinda etc etc. So why is he the most rich and famous? The Tirumala temple, located in Andhra Pradesh in South India, has 14 tonnes of gold reserves and jewelery worth Rs.5 billion donated so far by devotees alone. **Gulp**. With more than 50,000 daily visitors and an average of 19 million visitors a year, it is almost double the estimated number of people visiting Vatican City. And this is where I got married. Don't ask, longgggg story.

Here is a summary(a tip of the iceberg) about Hinduism,why Hindus offer money/gold to Lord Venkateshwara and whats with the fasting business? Well, as a born Hindu I myself find it baffling because there are simply too many gods..well too many incarnations/manifestations of supreme being if you will. So here goes-

Hindu religion, somewhat like Christianity, is based on a three-part God.  In Hinduism, the trinity is based on three Gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  These three major figures each have a defining role.   
  • Brahma is considered the lord of creation,.
  • Vishnu is considered the preserver and protector of creation -the embodiment of goodness and mercy, and is the all-powerful force that works unseen to maintain cosmic order or Dharma (a Hindi word and concept meaning, "That which binds together").  Vishnu is most often seen resting on a coiled serpent, with his consort Lakshmi rubbing his feet.  Additionally, Vishnu is usually represented as resting because he never sleeps, keeping an ever vigilant watch on the world.  Vishnu has nine separate incarnations, each with weapons to care for and protect the world. 
  • Shiva, the final deity in the Hindu trinity, is the destroyer.  However, Shiva is not seen as a figure of evil.  Instead, he makes change possible by destroying the old elements and people in the world so they can be reincarnated.  Shiva is most often represented as traveling about on his white bull Nandi, and can also be seen cross legged and with his many arms in the air as he rests in his home atop Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas. 
Now to the story why it is raining gold, diamonds and money at the Tirumala hills where sits the Shrine of the richest god in the world-
Goddess Lakshmi(Goddess of wealth), also referred as Shri, consort of Lord Vishnu,once had a fight with Lord Vishnu and left Vaikunta, the heavenly abode.Around the same time the king/ruler of seven hills of Tirumala was tilling the ground, found a baby in a lotus flower and named her Padmavathi(Lady born in Lotus petals) and adopted her as his daughter. She is none other than the manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Lord Vishnu soon arrived on earth searching for Goddess Lakshmi. But He failed to trace Shri and settled on Tirumala hills in form of a forest gatherer and continued his search.During the search, Lord Vishnu met a beautiful girl named Padmavati who was the daughter of the King of the seven hills in Tirumala. They both fell in love and decided to get married.The father of Padmavati asked for a huge bridal price and to pay the money Lord Vishnu took a huge loan from Kubera, the Hindu god who is the treasurer of wealth. But Kubera gave the loan on the condition that Vishnu cannot return to Vaikunta (heavenly abode) without paying off the debt.
So Lord Vishnu resides at Tirumala as Tirupati Venkateswara without returning to Vaikunta(heavenly abode). To help him repay his debt, devotees offer him wealth and in return Lord Vishnu fulfills their prayers.Can you help him repay his debts? I do whenever I visit Tirumala. :)

Puratassi Fasting (Sept 17, 2010 -- Oct 17, 2010)
My MIL keeps strict fasting during the auspicious month [in the Tamil(Hindu) calendar] called Puratassi and the fasting is called Puratassi Viratham/Vratam. This month is of great importance to Tamilians(MIL is Telugu but she keeps fast anyways as she has lived in TamilNadu her whole life) as it is believed that Lord Venkateswara (Balaji) appeared on the earth in this month. Some people observe partial fasting on all days in Puratassi others limit it to Puratasi Saturdays.The strict fast on Puratassi Saturdays which involves not even drinking a drop of water until prayer.Some devotees only eat vegetarian food during the entire month. They also quit smoking and consuming alcohol for one month.

Okay, this is the best/only decent-sized picture of Lord Venkateshwara and this is all I have got since I am not a very pious girl..Yeah, don't have many idols or have an entire room dedicated as a prayer room.Just a small cabinet space with my favorite gods -- a smallish place of heaven and hope to go to when I am upset/state of turmoil.
Hymns dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara are chanted on Puratassi Saturdays.
Clean, cooked and untasted food is offered on a new plate(or any plate unused by mere mortals for eating) on the Saturdays of this month. Food menu should have something sweet, something bitter, something sour and something salty.
A sample of whats on the plate that is fit for the god(s):
  • Potato Fry
  • Dhal Fritters
  • Jaggery and Lentil Payasam(Pudding)
  • Dhal With Clarified Butter And Jaggery over white rice.
  • Okra fry
  • Homemade Yogurt
  • Sambhar
  • Cabbage Fry
After prayer, everyone takes a small share of this food which is considered to be blessed by the god(s). Delicious! Will upload recipes soon.

There are too many gods in Hinduism. But my favorite is Lord Ganesha(The elephant faced god) and can you guess how many of his idols/pictures are there in the photo?
Curios about how he got that elephant face? Check here.
Enjoy!
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26 comments:

  1. wow ...wonderful post...toooooooo interesting dear...! Excellent write up with beautiful clicks...!

    Tasty Appetite

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  2. Thank you for posting this I know so little about Hinduism.

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  3. Lovely post and wonderful Naivedyam offering CL....Even beautiful Pooja place!!
    Happy Dasera!! Enjoy!

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  4. that just looks yummmeeeeeeee. its been ages since ive had a full fledged thali like tht

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  5. A very nice write up and beautiful presentation!

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  6. Looking at the plate I would love to dive into the picture to feast on a plate like that. Very nice.

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  7. Enjoyed the write-up with a smile on my face :):)

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  8. Bonne fête à vous tous.
    I've awards for you.
    See soon.

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  9. Dear Lassie
    Best wishes on Dushera and durga Puja. Goddess will bless you all forever.
    I was badly tied up and could not read the postings...
    I like the write up..I did not know so much really. Although I love to eat the Laddu prasadam but Lord hasn't called me yet to visit Him.:-(
    I have already tried the hard boiled egg recipe ...very nice. WHen I am away from home, I often eat 6 boiled eggs for Bfast , just with salt and pepper, now I will try this ..
    Let me read now , what all i have missed.
    Have a nice week ahead
    Ushnishda

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  10. I wish i was there to eat some prasad :) beautiful presented

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  11. As ever great post.
    Have a great Sunday ♥

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  12. nice post ,wish i could get a little from the prasad

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  13. Very interesting information about Hinduism. It is a fascinating religion. My son just learned about the Hindu religion in his African Asian class this year, and I loved hearing all about it.

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  14. Wonderful and an useful post!!Glad to follow you!!

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  15. Hy dear,

    An award is waiting for you at my blog...plz stop by to collect your award..

    Tasty Appetite

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  16. is this the mandir u hv @ ur US home.thts simply peaceful and gorgeous with all the gods arranged so bfully and lassie wow wow wow wht a wonderful festive platter...drooooooling over all my fav things...busy travelling nowadays wil catch u with other mouthwatering posts soon...tc..

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Thanks a bunch for your valuable comments and continued support.They are very much appreciated. Yes,like "Rain on Dry Land" and like "Oasis in Desert Sand".
XoXo, Cool Lassi(e)