May 22, 2012
Jyeshth Shukla Dwitiya, Kaliyug Varsha 5114
Hundreds of Hindu faithful from around the Midwest will gather in Pewaukee on Saturday for what is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many: a celestial wedding performed by priests from one of the most-visited holy places in the world.
Seven Vedic priests of the Tirupati temple in southern India are bringing the ancient ceremony known as the Kalyanam to the United States for only the second time. And the Hindu Temple of Wisconsin is one of 13 sites to host it this year.
“Tirupati is one of the most sacred temples in India. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have them here,” said Lakshmi Bharadwaj, a member of the Pewaukee temple’s board.
Hinduism is the world’s oldest and third-largest religion, with more than 1 billion adherents.
The Kalyanam, meant to bring peace and prosperity to the community and to those who participate, is performed on a smaller scale each month at the Pewaukee temple.
The ceremony re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sri Venkateswara (Balaji), believed to be the current incarnation of the Lord Vishnu, the preserver of creation; and the Goddesses Sridevi and Bhudevi, manifestations of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The program begins at 7:30 a.m. with a ritual washing of the deities, followed by the wedding ceremony from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Laddu prasadam, a traditional sweet sold to pilgrims outside the temple in India, are being shipped from the Tirumala region for the occasion.
For those who cannot attend the ceremony, the deities will be displayed for public viewing from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and during temple hours Sunday. It will also be telecast live around the world by Dish Network, according to Bharadwaj.
The Hindu temple is at N4063-W243 Pewaukee Road. Families are paying between $51 and $1,116 to participate; however, spaces are available for others. Preregistration and a strict dress code are required. For more information, go to www.hindutemplewis.org/htw/list/km.