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The splendid Brahmotsavam is the annual festival celebrated in the district Tirumala of Andhra Pradesh for nine days when the sun enters Kanya Rashi from Ashwayuja Shuddha Padyami to. Ashwayuja Shuddha Dashami during September/October. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, many other states also celebrate this festival of Lord Venkateswara. But the main temple is situated at Tirumala. Lord Venkateswara is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. It is believed that he came to reside on the southern bank of Swami Pushkarni, a tank that passes by Tirumala. The temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri. According to the legend, when Saint Ramanuja climbed the seven hills of Tirupati, Lord Srinivas that is Lord Venkateswara- appeared before him and blessed him to live till the age of 120 years and spread the divinity of Sri Venkateswara. It is said that the temple was built by Ramanuja and later was taken care of by the following dynasties.

This festival attracts millions of people from all over the world, be it from any religion, caste, creed or race. His devotees know Lord Venkateswara for his grant of boons and history says none of his devotee have returned back home disappointed. People mostly visit Tirumala on the day of Ekadasi in the month of Vaikunta, during which all the pilgrims in the abode of God will be forgiven of all their sins. Salvation would come to them after death.

It is believed that Lord Brahma was first who celebrated this utsavam; hence it is given the name. Both in the mornings and the evenings, processions of beautifully decorated idol of Lord Venkateshwara with his consorts are taken round the temple on different vahanams (chariots) daily for a series of nine days.

Below is the detailed description of the meticulously followed tradition of the Lord Venkateswaras devotional proceedings.

 

DHWAJAROHANAM OR PEDDA SESHA VAHANAM (The serpents chariot):

This is the first day of the festival, where in the evening, Lord Srinivasa that is Lord Venkateswara with his consorts is well decorated with rare jewels and a procession is carried out on a glittering gold pedda sesha vahanam. The procession is brought to a halt near the ?Dhwajasthambham?, where a ?Garuda Flag? is hoisted with the chanting of the Vedas. This is done to mark the beginning of Brahmotsavam. This vahanam exhibits the services rendered by the serpent to Lord venkateswara in all his forms. If one remembers, the serpent played a very important role in the incarnation of Lord Krishna in Krishna Leela.
 

CHINNA SESHA VAHANAM (The small serpent chariot) :

The second day starts with the Lord's procession, this time on Chinna Seshavahana which is golden plated. Several bhajans are sung in different tunes of Indian music. The seven Tirumala Hills are believed to be the manifestation of the seven hoods of ?Adivesha'- the serpent god. The pedda sesha vahanam and the china sesha vahanam are one of the most significant vahanams of Lord Venkateswara.
 

HAMSA VAHANAM (The swan chariot):

The hamsa vahanam is used for the Lord's procession in th e n ight of the second day. It is to remind the devotees of the Lord's incarnation as a swan to restore the Vedas from the demons and then hand it over to Lord Brahma. It is for this reason that Lord Brahma uses swan not only as its vehicle but also to chant Vedas. The Hamsa vahanam signifies purity, and the Hamsa (swan) is known to for its ability to differentiate between good and bad, and said to denote peace.

 
SIMHA VAHANAM (The lion chariot) :

On the third day, deities decorated with diamonds and precious gems are taken out for procession on a chariot embossed with a lion emblem. Simha vahanam explains the omni potent personality of the Lord with all its strength and command on its devotees. It denotes authority and pride of the Lord.

MUTHYALA PANDIRI VAHANAM (The pearl chariot) :

A chariot decorated heavily with pearls is prepared for the procession on the third day's night. Lord with his consorts shine in the purity and royalty of the pearls.

 

KALPAVRIKSHA VAHANAM (The boon granting tree) :

Kalpavriksha vahanam is used on the fourth day's morning. This vahanam of Lord Venkateswara is a tree made of gold. Kalpavriksha is the tree that fulfills all the desires of its selfless devotees. Lord Venkateshwara is symbolized like the tree since his devotees know him for his ultimate grant of boons.

SARVABHOOPALA VAHANAM (Lord of the Lords) :

This procession is carried out on the night of the fourth day. The significance of this vahanam is that it reminds people of Lord's great love for his devotees. On this very day, all the kings of the universe are believed to bow their heads in the honor of the Lord.
 

MOHINI AVATARAM :

On the fifth day's morning Lord Venkateshwara is dressed like a mohini- one of his incarnations. A lotus with a golden parrot sitting on it is placed in the right hand of the Lord and a mangalsutra made of gems and diamonds is in the other hand. This incarnation of Lord Venkateshwara makes one recall about the fight between the gods and the demons for ?Amritam'-nectar that makes one immortal. Lord Venkateshwara with his consorts are seated on an ivory palanquin during the procession.

GARUDA VAHANAM (The bird) :


Garuda , the bird is assumed as the body of Vedas and since Lord rides upon it; the Lord is said to be the ultimate reality. It is a magnificent chariot with the garuda holding the feet of the Lord. The procession is carried out on the fifth day's night. It is the greatest vahana of the Lord. The Lord is specially decorated with precious jewels like Lakshmi haram and Makarakanti on this day. The Chief Minister gifts Sesha Vasthram to the Lord on the behalf of the state government. Lord Venkateshwara is also called as Garudadhvaja because of a emblem of garuda on his banner.

HANUMANTHA VAHANAM (The hanuman) :
Hanuman is one of the greatest devotees of Lord Rama- an incarnation of Lord Venkateshwara. Hanumantha vahanam is carried out on the sixth day's morning. Devotees feel blessed if they get to see a glimpse of this stunning vahana. Its the demonstration of unlimited service of a devotee to his dearly god.
 

GAJA VAHANAM (The elephant):

In the evening of the sixth day, deities are seated on to a marvelously decorated gaja vahanam. It signifies the wealth of the Lord. This vahana can be attributed to the elephant in Gajendramoksham (story from the Mahabhaghavatam), which is saved from a crocodile by Lord Vishnu.
 

SURYAPRABHA VAHANAM (The sunlight):

On the seventh day, the idol of the Lord Venkateshwara is beautified with ?Vajra Kavacham' and ?Makutam'. Lord Vishnu is considered to be the sole source of knowledge and light in the universe. It is from him that we get our wisdom. Gayatri mantra comes from surya prabha.

CHANDRA PRABHA VAHANAM (The moonlight) :

On seventh day's night, the Lord is embraced with pearls, which shine in the moonlight. The pleasant rays of the pearls provide he devotees with self-belief and brightness. It keeps them calm and composed.
 

RATHOTSAVAM:

On the eighth day, along with the idols of Daruka and four horses, Lord with his consorts is seated on an 80 tons wooden chariot. His devotees pull the chariot of the Lord manually. Devotees believe that one who gets the chance of pulling the Lord's chariot is lucky. It means that the devotee has served the Lord in giving darshana to million other people. It is a huge procession with drums and conches. Through out the procession,the devotees chant Govinda!Govinda!

 

ASHWA VAHANAM (The horse):

Later in the night of the eight day, the Lord is mounted on a ashwa vahana. The

horse symbolizes speed and energy. It is believed that those who witness Rathotsavam will not be reborn.

CHAKARASANA MAHOTSAVAM :

On the last day, Pallaki Seva and Chakrasnana Mahotsavam in the morning and Dhwajavarohanam are performed in the evening. The processional images are anointed with oil, turmeric powder and other auspicious ingredients and Abhishekam is performed. Sudarsan Chakram is given a bath in the Swami Pushkarini. The Garuda flag is then lowered.

Thus with lots of excitement and devotion the ?maha festival' of Lord Venkateshwara is celebrated.