kumbha3_insert_1The new Balaji Temple at 5004 N First St., San Jose, CA 95002, was inaugurated with Maha Kumbhabhishekam held from May 30 to June 3, 2012. The five day event commenced with Ganapathi-vasthu Homa and Deeksha Homa being held on the first day.  That same afternoon, the moorthis were brought from Sunnyvale Cypress Avenue temple to the new location. The next day, Sudharshana Homa was performed in the morning and Swamiji blessed and released the Vishnu Sahasranama prayers books. In the evening Panchagavyadivasa, Bhimbhashuddhi, Jaladivasa, Kshiradivasa, Dhaanyadivasa (using various items to purify the moorthis) were performed. Maha Chandi Homa was held on the morning of the third day followed by Samoohikaa and Lalitha Sahasranama with 108 ladies chanting together. This was accompanied by bhajans by Sumita Chakravarthy.  On the morning of the fourth day, the priests performed Ekadasi Rudra Homa with chanting Rudra (praise of Lord Shiva) eleven times. This was held in conjunction with a day long line up of cultural activities starting at 9AM and extending all the way until 6PM. There were more than 60 performances from various dance and vocal schools from all over the Bay Area. Both devotees and performers were thrilled to witness and perform at this event. Well-known vocalist Shubhangi Sakhalkar  gave a very captivating performance at thisevent. Volunteers received free tshirts and Balaji Temple ribbon badges that were donated by devotees. The evening ended with the first Balaji and Mahalakshmi Abhishekam done with Panchamritham and variety of holy waters in preparation of giving prana the next day. Abhishekam was also done for Sri Hanuman and Sri Radha Krishna. This was a feast for the eyes to the hundreds of devotees who witnessed it.

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The fifth and final day started with the Prana Prathishta (to give life to the moorthis) and then came the Mahakumbhabhishekam, which is the ritualistic pouring of holy waters on the Gopuram. This is a practice that dates back several hundreds of years to post vedic times when temple rituals were formalized. More than a 1000 devotees along with dignitaries watched Swamiji pour sacred water on the Gopuram Kalasha to invoke the presence of God.

After the Kumbhabhishekam was done, Swamiji did abhishekam for each of the moorthies. Prasad Bhandarkar then played the flute on stage. Following this, the Secretary of the Balaji Temple board Krishna Sheelam gave a brief history of the temple and invited Swamiji and the dignitaries onto the stage. Swamiji came with the kumbha and other priests who sang a shanthi prayer. Then, Board members Sumathi, Vijayalakshmi and Padma sang “Bhagyada Lakshmi Bharamma”. The dignitaries on stage included the Consul General for India at San Francisco, Mr. Nageshwar Parthasarathy, his wife Mrs. Geetha Parthasarathy, Sri Prabhu and Poonam Goel, Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski, Santa Clara County Board Supervisor Dave Cortese and his wife Pattie, the Mayor of Milpitas Jose Esteves, the Mayor of Sunnyvale Tony Spitaleri, Vice Mayor of Fremont Anu Natrajan, Council member Kansen Chu of San Jose who attended with his wife Daisy Chu, Council member Xavier Campos of San Jose and Council member Ash Kalra of San Jose. Also in attendance was Captain Mark Bustillos from the San Jose Police Department. Then Swamiji spoke about Kumbhabhishekam and the significance of having a temple in the community. Swamiji thanked Kansen Chu, Ash Kalra, Dave Cortese and all the devotees who helped make the temple a reality. After this, Sri Prabhu Goel expressed his joy to see the temple reaching this milestone from its humble beginnings. He thanked Swamiji for the opportunity to be able to support the temple.  Mr. Mahesh Nihalani, longtime temple devotee, then introduced each of the dignitaries. Mr Kansen Chu spoke briefly about how it was an accomplishment to complete the temple while honoring the strict rules for building in Alviso, San Jose. He expressed his strong support for any help needed by the temple in the future. Mr. Xavier Campos welcomed the temple to the community and expressed his support. Mr. Ash Kalra spoke about how happy he was to see a temple in the Bay Area and shared his childhood experience of performing poojas at home since there were no temples nearby. He also mentioned how significant it was that members belonging to Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities were sharing the same stage and supporting a noble cause. Kansen Chu, Xavier Campos and Ash Kalra together gave a proclamation from the city of San Jose to the temple. Indian Consul General Mr. Nageshwar Parthasarathy then came forward to give a wonderful speech about how significant a role a temple plays in society. He mentioned that God is everywhere but it is the temple that provides the right environment to bring out the God in each one of us. He thanked Swamiji for bringing a new temple to the Bay Area that would bring together people in the Indian community. He along with all the dignitaries  released the Temple Souvenir book to commemorate the occasion. Dave Cortese remembered his visit to the first Balaji temple fund raising event “Bhakti Kalasagar”.  He said that he cherished the moment very much and still had a photo with the phrase “We will celebrate the One Truth behind all religions that God is One and in all of us” on his home computer. He gave a proclamation to the temple from the County of Santa Clara. Mr. Bob Wieckowski, California State Assembly Member, expressed his happiness at being present at the inauguration of another community institution adding to the diversity of the Bay Area. He gave a proclamation from the California State Assembly. Mrs. Anu Natarajan talked about how having a temple will help inculcate Hindu values in our children and acts as a showcase of Hindu culture. Jose Esteves welcomed the temple to Alviso and also Milpitas as it was close to the cities of Alviso, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Cupertino. He mentioned how great it is to live in this United States of America where the fundamental right of freedom of worship allows all of us to celebrate the opening of this Hindu Temple together. He presented a proclamation from the city of Milpitas. Alison McInnis who represented California Congressman Michael Honda, conveyed her best wishes on his behalf and presented a proclamation from his office.

After this, devotees then proceeded to get darshan and maha mangala aarti inside the temple. Devotees and dignitaries were overjoyed to see Sri Balaji and other deities in their full alankaram.

Later, Swami Vedanandaji from the Vedanta Society of Northern California at San Francisco visited and expressed his happiness at seeing the inauguration of the temple. He mentioned how one can see Sri Balaji at their own leisure at this temple while this may not be possible in other major holy places.

Pandit Habib Khan’s students performed bhajans during the afternoon.

Later in the day, Balaji Kalyana Utsavam and Sri Satyanarayan Pooja with 108 Kalashas, which were embraced by all the devotees with much fervor, were performed. Guru Pooja was performed by Dr. and Mrs. Ashok Kumar performed Guru Pooja for Swamiji. The organizing committee members thanked all the volunteers and participants for making the event a grand success.

Food was sponsored for both lunch and dinner for all the five days by Sharad Banerjee family, Om Prakash Choudhary family, Ganesha Restaurant, Peacock Restaurant and Turmeric Restaurant.  Other devotees also prepared and served food.

More than 6000 devotees came to take part in the five day celebrations.

History of the Balaji Temple

Swamiji first came to the United States in 1993. He served at various temples in the Bay Area and travelled wherever in the US devotees requested him to perform poojas, share Vedic knowledge, provide spiritual advice and comfort through difficult situations.

Seeing Swamiji’s sincerity and devotion to God and serving humanity, a devotee donated a residence at 678 Cypress Ave, Sunnyvale to support his sadhana. Many times, devotees felt having witnessed God through the fire of the homa. During this time, someone criticized that Balaji Temple should perform only Balaji homa and not Ganesh homa. That same person took photos during the Ganesha homa, and in one of the photos, the fire of the homa came out looking like the face of Ganesha. He himself was surprised.

Sometime in 2003, Swamiji helped perform yagna at the residence of Shri Prabhu and Shrimathi Poonam Goel. Seeing Swamiji’s devotional demeanor and perfect Vedic pronounciation and explanations during the performance of of the yagna, one of the lead acharyas commended him greatly. The Goels were also impressed and met with him at his residence at Cypress Ave in Sunnyvale during his sadhana time. They told Swamiji that they wished to do something for him and asked what would best benefit him. Swamiji requested that it would be nice to have an idol of his Ishta devatha Sri Balaji and Lakshmi Devi for sadhana.

The murthis came to the US on February 13, 2004 and were installed in 2007. In 2005 devotees were inspired to form the Balaji Matha organization with Swamiji as its Founder and President. The aim of this organization is to do service to humanity, disseminate Vedic knowledge and build a permanent Hindu temple. The prayers and Swamiji’s reputation spread and a steady stream of devotees started coming. This stream of devotees grew ever larger and the other murthis for Sri Hanuman, Sri Sai Baba, Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, Sri Durga Devi, Sri Ram Pariwar and Rukmani Panduranga were donated to the temple by various benefactors.

Donations were collected for the construction of a new temple. After much effort spent searching for a suitable location, a site at 5004 N First St, San Jose was accquired. Nilesh Zhaveri, architect, drew plans for the new temple design. In 2009, sometime after Navrathri, the murthi of Sri Vasavi Devi was donated to the temple by the Vasavi Seva Foundation. In 2010, a sister center in Bangalore was opened for Balaji Matha.  Around the same time, a 23 acre site near Hollister, CA was donated to Swamiji as Guru Dakshina. During the same year, Swamiji took sanyasa under Padmabhushana Dr Sri Sri Sri Balagangadhara Swami to dedicate his life to service of God and humanity. In 2011, the adjacent site at 5010 N 1st St. came up for sale by a bank. At the behest of devotees suggesting that extra space would be very useful and that this was a rare opportunity to acquire the neighbouring property, donations were collected and the property purchased.

By now, the Cypress Ave residence had grown so much in popularity that to ensure that the rest of the community were not disturbed, some of the murthis were temporarily moved to 5010 N First St. until the construction of the new temple was completed. Approvals for the temple construction came in 2011 and a contractor was selected in February 2012. A bhoomi puja was performed and the construction has gone full pace culminating in this Maha Kumbhabhishekam we celebrated May 30 to June 3, 2012.

Balaji Matha began as a small gathering of devotees desiring to build a temple where all could come and worship daily with Swamiji and has now grown to what it is today through the blessings of Swamiji’s sadhana and hard work over the years. It stands as a testament to the fact that, “where there is a good will with good intention, good things will always follow”.

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