5,000 devotees brave heat to watch Hindu celestial wedding

Priests performing rituals as part of the celestial wedding ceremony of deity Lord Venkateswara and his consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, outside the Sri Sivan Temple in Geylang East Avenue 2 yesterday. The statues were flown in from the Tirumala Venkatesw
Priests performing rituals as part of the celestial wedding ceremony of deity Lord Venkateswara and his consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, outside the Sri Sivan Temple in Geylang East Avenue 2 yesterday. The statues were flown in from the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, one of the most visited temples in India. ST PHOTO: KELLY HUI

About 5,000 devotees braved the heat yesterday morning outside Sri Sivan Temple in Geylang to witness the celestial wedding ceremony of deity Lord Venkateswara and his consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi, in one of the largest religious ceremonies in Hinduism.

The statues arrived in Singapore last Thursday on a cargo plane. Ranging from 0.5m to 1m in height, they were flown in from the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, one of the most visited temples in India.

The shrine sits atop the Tirumala hill in Andhra Pradesh in south-eastern India and is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Hindus.

It is believed to be where Lord Venkateswara - also known as Lord Perumal - resides.

The wedding of the gods, or Sri Srinivasa Kalyanotsavam, which is held over three days from last Friday to today, takes place in the open field outside Sri Sivan Temple in Geylang East Avenue 2.

The pre-wedding ceremony was held last Friday, when special prayers were conducted and about 1,000 devotees attended.

About 40,000 devotees are expected over the weekend and about 250 volunteers are helping out with the event, which is free to attend.

The event is organised by cultural society Singapore Telugu Samajam, and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, an independent trust that manages the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, with the support of the Hindu Endowments Board and Sri Sivan Temple.

The statues of the deities were last brought in from Tirupati in 2008.

 

Singapore Telugu Samajam secretary Satyanarayana Chirla said that the statues were brought in so that those who could not travel to India can get a glimpse of the deity here in Singapore.

Said Mr Chirla: "Because of financial or age or health reasons, some devotees are unable to visit the temple in India.

"This is equivalent to God coming here to bless the people."

Vanessa Liu

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 13, 2019, with the headline '5,000 devotees brave heat to watch Hindu celestial wedding'. Print Edition | Subscribe