Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pranapratishtapana Anniversary at CVHTS

Pranapratishtapana Anniversary at CVHTS, text and photographs by Joseph Getter

Recently, members of the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Pranapratishtapana (installation) of the deities represented in sculptures within the sanctum of the temple. These include Sri Satyanarayana (Truth in the form of Hindu god Lord Vishnu), his consorts Sri Devi and Sri Bhudevi, and Sri Ganesha (the elephant-headed remover of obstacles). The house of worship is located at 11 Training Hill Road in Middletown, just opposite the entrance to Middlesex Community College. I attended and participated in the rituals, festivities, and music on the last day (Sunday, August 7, 2011), and assisted in the documentation of the event for the community. Here, I present a photographic essay on the events in our town.

The day began early with Homa, in which ritual offerings were consecrated in fire, in order to please the gods. This was conducted outdoors during quite a rainstorm. The priests chanted Sanskrit prayers and texts, and offered various substances such as clarified butter, rice, and flowers into the fire. The temple has four priests, all of whom were very busy this weekend: Ramachandra Bhattar, Govindaraja Bhattacharya, Srinivasacharyulu Dittakavi, and Shastri Vinayak Pathak. At the bottom of this picture are the Kumbhas, pots filled with water and other offerings, topped with a coconut:

Inside the temple, a man played a shell, with a beautiful and haunting sound:

Outside in the rain, devotees pulled a cart around the temple, carrying the Utsava Murthis (mobile versions of the deities found inside). Many carried their kumbha offering, a strenuous effort that served as a penance:

The kumbas and cart were then brought inside:

Many performed a personal ritual connected to the offerings taking place at the Garbagriha (within the innermost part of the main shrine):

The priests poured the contents of each kumbha over Sri Satyanarayana, in a ritual called Abhishekam. These offerings consist of milk, honey, water, rosewater and other substances, such as yogurt seen here:

In the back of the room, several women strung together beautiful garlands of flowers:

The rituals celebrate the anniversary, but are also intended to re-energize the divine presence within the deities, as well as re-energize the community. At the conclusion of the rituals, several people were honored. Here are (left to right) Ramachandra Bhattar (a priest), Dina Bhatt (one of the senior leaders of the temple), A. V. Srinivasan (a founder of the temple), and Kamla Srinivasan (his wife):

To see the newly-decorated Sri Satyanarayan is an occasion of reverence and joy. Here, a participant offers a prayer:

A concert of South Indian Carnatic classical music followed, featuring a recent graduate of the Hartford Conservatory, Kamakshi Kalyanasundaram (vocal), accompanied by Kalyanasundaram (her husband, on violin), Kumar Kanthan (mridangam drum), and Ravi Balasubramanian (on the clay pot ghatam). A student also joined them on the stage, and I ran the audio gear:

Sisters Deepika and Vishaka enjoyed the music:

Middletown resident and music-lover Rajam Kumar offered a vote of thanks at the end:

All are welcome to visit the temple. If you go, check their website for a schedule of times it is open, at: If you're not familiar with Hindu practice, please ask for assistance and a tour from a priest or volunteer before entering the sanctuary.

For more information (including hundreds of photographs) from the event, please see the event website:


Prof. Jay Pillay said...

A very well documented event. A job very well done. Thank you.

Madam Nirvana (Molly Salafia) said...

Wonderful article and beautiful pictures!