Daily Sevas In Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams

Suprabhatam Seva

Suprabhatam is the ritual performed in the Thirumani Mandapam, in front of the Bangaru Vakili, the golden doors leading to the sanctum, to wake up the main deity and his consorts from His celestial sleep by chanting of the sacred Suprabhatam hymns consisting of

* Suprabhatam (Waking the Lord): 29 slokas
* Strotram (Hymns to the Lord): 11 slokas
* Prapatti (Surrender to the Lord): 16 slokas
* Mangalasanam (Prayer to Lord's Glory): 14 slokas.

Early in the morning at a time fixed the previous day itself 'golla' (cowherd) will go to the residence of the arcakas & collect them who have been allotted the duty in the sanctum sanctorum that day. The arcaka would have by that time had his morning bath, completed his nitya-karmanusthanas. He will then do pranama to the key of the sanctum & proceed to the temple holding the key on his head, accompanied by paricarakas, temple paraphernalia and music. The 'golla' would be holding a fireband in his hand when the priest has reached the main entrance of the temple. The cowherd would go back and bring the Jiyyangar or his representative, Ekangi to the temple. The Jiyyangar or Ekangi will come carrying on their head a box, which contains one key (duplicate) and seals etc.

Meantime, the temple administration representative would have come there with one key. The system is triplicate lock system with arcaka, Jiyyangar and temple authorities having one key each. The arcaka will first symbolically place his key in the hand of the Dvarapalaka on the right of the Bangaru Vakili. The priest will do pranama to dvarapaladeras near the Bangaru Vakili. Then he will take the key from the dvarapalaka and seal is broken and the doors of golden vakili will be opened uttering suitable mantras. The 'golla', the paricaraka, jeeyar & arcaka will go in and the Bangaru Vakili doors will be closed from inside.

Bangaru Vakili is a telugu word which means 'golden doorway'. Here the two doors are massive and covered with gold plate. One should not miss studying these two doors in detail as they depict religious facts. On one door all the ten avataras (incarnations) of the Lord are depicted. The other door depicts the dradasanama devatas viz. Kesara, Narayana, Madhava. Meantime in the Mukhamantapa the devotees for the Suprabhataseva would have assembled. There will be priests outside who will start reciting suprabhatam, stotra, prapatti. Mangalasasana verses composed by Sri Pratiradibhayankaram Annan. While inside the Bangaru Vakili the antarala the golla with his fireband (torch) would have lighted all the lamps. The ekangin would have lighted the Brahmakhanda and sara lamps.

The next ritual is to remove Bhoga Srinivasa. Who acted as Sayanabera the previous night. When he was ceremonially put to sleep in a cot during Ekantaseva. He will be lifted from that cot and will be taken back to the sanctum to rest near the feet of the Dhruvabera on the left side. That place is known as Tirasthana. The height of the icon gifted by Samarai, the Pallava Princess does not reach even the anklet of the Dhruvabera. But all worship in the sanctum is done to this idol.

The vaikhanasa practice is to establish a connection between the Dhruvabera and the Kantukabera through a sambandhakurca during worship. This sambandhakurca is a bunch of 32 blades of darbha (grass) tied by a knot in a rightward direction. The knot will be about 2 inches (angular) in length and will be in the middle thus having about 4 inches (angular) of darbha (grass) fire in the front. The front portion is set to represent Brahma, the knot Vishnu and rest Rudra. This sambandhakurca is placed in the space between the Dhruvabera and the kantukabera with the front portion of the kurca towards the kantukabera. The belief is that the sanctum is water, while dhruvabera is the earth below and the kantukabera is the flower that is nourished by the earth and water. The sambandhakurca is likened to the stalk of the flower, which is connecting link between earth and flower through water.

After restoring the kantukabera to Jivasthana, the sayana mantapa is cleared of the cot and other articles used for Ekantaseva the previous night. The doors are open and by that time the reciters outside would have completed the mangalasasana. In the sanctum, the jiyyangar will light the camphor on a plate and give it to areaka who performs arati to the Mula Vigraha. The devotees are then allowed to pass through the Bangaru Vakili and go up to Kulasekhar for the Visvarupa / Suprabhata darshan.

The tradition in Tirumala is that Brahma conducts worship every night for the Lord at Tirumala. Actually every night before closing the doors if the Garbhagruha five gold cups of water with the spices specified for puja as per agamas, added to them along with other puja articles are left at the feet of the Lord so that Brahma may use them for the worship of Lord in the night (Brahmaradhana). The devotees who go for Visvarupadarsana get the Tirtha believed to have been used by Brahma & other Gods for the puja offered in the night. Another important feature is that only during Suprabhata-darshana is the devotee able to have a darshan of Lords sacred feet without any gold kavacha on the fact. It is removed during Ekantaseva when Bhoga Srinivasa is put to bed, a half billa (half a table-like) perfumed sandal paste is placed over his chest, and other billa is placed on the figure of Alamelmanga on the chest if the Mulavigraha, another billa is kept along with puja articles for Brahma to use during his nights worship to the Lord. In addition, another two billas are placed on Lord's feet after removing the gold kavacha. These billas on Lord's feet are placed there, after wiping off the Civet oil with which his feet are anointed before placing the gold kavacha on them. During the Suprabhata-darshan the devotees are given as prasada a bit from these two sandal paste tablets kept on Lord's feet in the night and some will be given the small piece of perfumed cloth with which the Civet oil is wiped off the feet of the Lord, so that they may reverentially press the cloth on their forehead and eyes. The sandal paste is called Sripadachandana and the cloth is called Sripadavastra.

The seva lasts around 30 mins and starts at 3:00 a.m (2.30AM on Fridays). The piligrims are then allowed to enter the Bangaru Vakili, giving them the best view of the "LORD". Each seva ticket provides entry for one person. 2 small laddus are provided to the pilgrim as prasadam. The seva does not allow children below 10 years though parents are allowed to carry children less than 1 year.

Thomala Seva

Thomala Seva: Thomala is an abbreviated form of the Tamil word, Thoditta Malai, meaning garlands which are worn. The Thomala Seva is conducted in the Tirumala temple after Vishwarupa Darshanam. It is Arjitham, i.e., can be attended on the payment of certain amount, on all days except Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On these days, it is conducted in Ekantham.

The Seva begins immediately after the Vishwaroopa Darshanam. The Sanctum is swept with a broom and dried flowers are removed from the idols. The priest performing the Seva hands out a golden pot to a Paricharaka, or servant. The servant goes to Akasha Ganga Thirtham, 3 miles from the temple and gathers water. The Paricharaka returns with the water pot in a procession, on an elephant.Two Ekangins, the representatives of Jeeyar Swami carry the floral garlands from Yamunothurai, a room in the second enclosure of the temple (Sampangi Pradakshinam), where the garlands are prepared, in a procession around the Dwajasthambam and the Balipeetham, accompanied by Nagari, Jheghanta and Firebrands. They carry the garlands in two bamboo baskets, called Thomala Butta, on their heads.A third priest carries a smaller basket of tulsi leaves. Meanwhile, in the sanctum, the priest would have received the Akasha Ganga water and arranged Bhoga Srinivasa and the gold cover of the feet of the Mulavar for Thirumanjanam, or bathing ritual. Upon receiving the garlands, Abhishekam is performed with holy water, milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, turmeric and sandalwood pulp. Purusha Sukta is chanted. After this Bhoga Srinivasa is replaced to His position at the left foot of the Mulavar. The holy feet of Sri Venkateswara is treated with civet oil, and a new silk cloth laid upon it, tulsi leaves are placed and covered with the gold cover.

Then 28 stanzas of Sri Aandaal's Tiruppavai ( 30 Tamil hymns scripted by the incarnation of mother earth (Sri Bhoomi Devi - one of the divine consorts of Lord Sriman Narayana) by name Sri Andal of Srivilliputtur who married The Lord Sri Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam) are recited as the Lord is decorated with the garlands. Other deities in the sanctum, also receive garlands.

This Seva is performed in Ekantham (private, with only priests and TTD officials) during the months of May through July and again in the month of "Margazhi" (Margasira in Telugu) which roughly falls anytime between the English months of mid December through mid January. Devotees are allowed to sit all along the corridor leading to the Sanctum sanctorum at Tirumala, from the second doorstep, extending into the foyer area where the imposing idol of Sri Garudalwar (Lord Vishnu's mount) kneels in obeisance to His Lord.

The enchanting Seva lasts for about 45 minutes, giving the devotees to feast their eyes on the Lord.
 Archana

On completion of Thomala Seva, Archana or Sahasranamarchana (1000 Name Recital) is performed to the main deity Lord Venkateswara amidst chanting of his one thousand names. After the recital, blessings are obtained from the Lord for the whole world as saying the name and gotram of each the ticket holders would make it a lengthy process as there would be about 200 Seva karthas every day. The entire ritual lasts for 30 minutes. Archana is then performed to Vaksha Sthala Lakshmi Thayar in Ekantham.

Unlike other Vaishnava temples, the sahasranamarchana invoked is not the well known Vishnu Sahasranama but Sri Venkateswara Sahasaranama which is unique and recited to the Lord only in Tirumala. While the origin date of the seva is not known, an inscription from 1518 A.D. is the earliest recorded instance where sahasranamarchana is mentioned.

Lord Venkateswara receives the second and third archanas in ekantam later in the day. Archana is an arjita seva on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and is performed in ekantam on other days. Each ticket allows one person and 2 small Laddus are offered as prasadam for this arjita seva.

In tirumala it is very difficult to state the name and gothram of every sevakartha, as there would be some 1000 people who participate, so the gotram is not read. Instead the Lord's blessings is sought for the welfare of the whole world.

Archananantara Darsanam[AAD]

At the completion of Archana, pilgrims are allowed to have a darshan of the Lord. This darshan is called Archananantara Darsanam ("Darshan after Archana"). Usually, pilgrims are allowed to enter through the last prakara for this darsanam. But the piligrim rush each day doesn't allow to beyond the first prakaram. Each ticket allows one person and two small laddu are offered as prasadam to pilgrims.

Under the new system (2009), up to 12,000 tickets will be issued on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while the number is restricted to 5,000 on other days.

Earlier, only 750 AADs were being issued under open category through Vijaya Bank and from 3,500 to 5,000 tickets under discretionary category by Chairman, EO, JEO, DyEO (temple) and board members. Increase in the number of AAD tickets in the open system will enable the devotees to purchase tickets directly at the counters without any hassles. It is also being planned to issue cellar tickets in a similar way.

Initially, till the year 2000 all pilgrims are allowed to enter the last prakaram because there are less crowds. The TTD also maintains a limited tickets but now the quota for this AAD is increased by the TTD to accommodate more people.This makes the people to worship the lord from a very long distance that is from dwarapalaka itself. TTD should look some other alternative for crowd management techniques as the crowd will grow in near future.In a heavy crowd times these tickets were sold as high as 20000 tickets per day.

Currently issuing ticket for this Darshan has been withheld. The Seva has been cancelled with effect from 26 November 2009.

 Kalyanotsavam

Srivari Kalyanotsavam is performed to the utsava murti - Lord Sri Malayappa swami (instead of the main deity) and his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. A purohit conducts the marriage and an archaka is consecrated to perform other rituals on behalf of the bridegroom. The wedding ceremony is held according to Vaikhanasa Agama rituals and starts with the Panchamurthi Puja. This is followed by recitation of Vedic mantras and pronouncing the family pedigree of the brides and bridegroom. The idols of the Lord and his brides face each other with a thera (screen) in between them. After the priests perform appropriate homas, the bridegroom and the brides are allowed to see each other at the appropriate auspicious moment as the screen is removed. This is followed by Mangala sutra dharana, Thalambralu and then Lord and his consorts are garlanded.

This seva is not performed on important festivals like Srivari Brahmotsavam. Pavitrotsavam, Pushpayagam etc. and on the days of solar and lunar eclipses. The duration of the seva is about one hour. Each ticket entitles 2 people to attend this arjita seva and they are awarded one silver Pendant (2 grams), two big laddu, five small laddus, one vastra bahumanam (Cloth Gift consisting of one silk Uttariyam for gents and one cotton blouse for ladies), two vada along with Lord's akshantalu ('sacred rice' used for blessing). At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.

The practice of Kalyana utsavam started in 1536 AD when Tallapakam Tirumala Ayyangar conceived the idea of celebrating the marriage festival of Lord Malayappa swami and the ceremony was conducted over five days in the Tirumamani mandapam.

This seva starts exactly at 11:30am and ends up at 1:00pm followed by darshan. More than 500 couples will take part in this seva.

Dolotsavam (Unjal Seva)

Dolotsavam is performed in the adhala meda (Mirror Hall) as it is popularly known. The hall is in Aina Mahal (Addala Mantapam) opposite Ranganayaka mantapam where Arjita Brahmotsavam is performed. The Aina Mahal consists of mirrors on four walls and a central stage with a provision for unjal (Swing). Sri Malayappaswami, Sridevi and Bhudevi are seated in the unjal (Swing) and the deities are swung to the accompaniment of Veda parayanam and mangalavadyam.

The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.

Arjitha Brahmotsavam

Arjita Brahmotsavam is performed daily and is the abridged version of the Brahmotsavam event. The seva is done in the vaibhavotsava Mantapam where the vahanams are kept throughout the year. In the seva, Sri Malayappaswami is seated on Garuda Vahanam, Hanumantha Vahanam and Peddasesha Vahanam in that order and offered worship. This seva is conducted after the Dolotsavam is completed.

Each ticket allows 5 people to participate in the seva. The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.

 Arjitha Vasanthotsavam

Arjitha Vasanthotsavam is conducted daily as an abridged version of the Vasanthotsavam. The seva is conducted in the Vaibhavotsava Mantapam . The seva is offered to Sri Malayappa swami and His consorts - Sridevi and Bhudevi. The seva begins with perfumeries and scents applied to the deities. The veda pandits chant Purusha suktam,Narayana Suktam,Shri Suktam and Bhu Suktam. Abhishekam is done to the Lord and His consorts with sacred water, milk, curd, honey and turmeric. Finally, sandal paste is applied to Sri Malayappa Swami and consorts. At the conclusion of the Seva, a perforated plate is held on top of the deities and water poured, creating a shower.

The ticket holder are given vastra bahumanam, 5 big laddus, 5 small laddus and 5 vadas as prasadam for this arjita seva. The duration of the seva is about one hour. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum.

Sahasra Deepalankarana Seva

Lord Malayappa swami and his consorts arriving for the Sahasra Deepalankara Seva.Sahasra Deepalankara (1000 Candle decoration) seva is the only daily seva that is performed outside the temple. The seva is performed in the Unjal mantapam located on the south eastern corner of the Srivari Temple at 1730 hrs every day evening. Sri Malayappa swami along with Sridevi and Bhudevi are taken out in procession where one thousand wick lamps are lit. The lord is seated in an unjal in the midst of the lamps and Annamaya Sankirtanas and vedic hymns are sung to the newly wed God and Goddesses. On occasions, group dance (typically from Karnataka, though not restricted) is also held. As a recent practice, after the Sahasra Deepalankarana seva, the Lord and his consorts are taken on a procession on the 4 streets surrounding the temple, before he is taken inside the temple complex.

The ticket holders are given vastra bahumanam and 5 small laddus for this seva. At the conclusion of the seva, the ticket holders are also sent for the darshan of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum. The duration of the seva is 30 minutes.

 Ekanta Seva

Ekanta Seva is the last seva performed to Lord Venkateswara before closing the temple for that particular day. Bhoga Srinivasa idol is laid on a gold Vuyyala (Swing) in the mukhamantapam using silver chains. Milk, fruits, almonds are offered to the Lord and performed chandanam is placed at the feet of the main deity after removing the kavacham covering the feet. Chandanam is also placed on the chest of Bhoga Srinivasa, Alamelumangai (on the chest of main deity). Since it is believed that Lord Brahma comes to perform prayers to the Lord after the temple doors are closed every night, chandanam, water and puja material is left for his usage. Water filled in silver cups are also kept for being consecrated by Lord Brahma and the same is distributed as 'thirtha' (holy/sacred water) to all pilgrims on the next day.

Tarikonda Venkamamba's harati in a plate inlaid with one of the dasavatarams (10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu) along with pearls bought by Venkamamba's descendent is waved to the Lord. During the entire ceremony, descendants of Tallapaka poets sing Tallapaka sankirtanam. In the Dhanurmasa (Marga masa), the idol of Lord Krishna is put to sleep in the vuyyala instead of Bhoga Srinivasa.

This last ritual is in the night. This is called ekantha seva. This is also known as Rathri pooja as it is done in the night. This pavalimpu seva is an arjitha seva. It lasts for 45 minutes. During this ritual the garlands adorning the moolavar are removed. 'The gaddam bottu i.e. the 'Sripada renu' on the chin is removed and fresh one put. The gold kavacha for the feet is also removed. The priest performs Sripada seva viz. at the feet of Dhruvabera, two full tablets of sandal paste are taken and after covering the bare feet with a vastra, the two tablets are placed on the two feet over the cloth. A tablet is placed on Alamelmanga on Dhruvabera's chest (Vakshasthala Lakshmi). In the meantime the sayana mantapa is ready for the deity. A silver cot will be brought in and suspended from silver chains from the roof in the sayana mantapa. The floor will be covered with Rangavalli design with rice powder. A velvet bed is laid on the cot. The sanctum is cleaned as the Kantakabera is removed from the Jeevasthana. Now milk is offered to the Kantakabera in a silver pot. The 2 queens of Krishnadevaraya (Chinna devi and Tirumala devi) are gifted each a gold cup (374 tulas) for offering milk during this seva. One another large silver plate with cashewnuts, almonds, dried grapes, clarified butter, fruits, sugar candy & tambula (50 betel leaves, nut, coconut gratings, cloves, cardamom and Japatri) is also offered. Then the Kantakabera is laid on the cot with its head to the south, sayana sukta is recited. Half a tablet of chandana is placed on the chest of the sayanabera. Meantime at the Bangaru Vakili, Mukhaveena will be played. Then a descendant of Tallapaka Annamacharya will sing some songs. Aarti is offered to the Kantakabera with Dasavathara aarti plate i.e. each day the aarti plate will have one avatara of the Lord engraved in it. Simultaneously the puja articles will get ready for Brahmaradhana in the night. Another half tablet of chandana paste will also be kept there and 5 vattils (cups) will be filled with water from Akasaganga and other fragrant articles. Then the priest goes to the sanctum to put out all the lights. Previously the Brahma-akhanda lamp was kept lighted as that light lit by the creator while conservating the shrine. It is said that every day this lamp used to consume not less than 17 kgs of clarified butter. But now-a-days all the lights are put out in order to avoid fire hazard. The Bangaru Vakili is closed and bolted with archakas key followed by Jiyar's and administrator's keys. The temple authorities scale the door lock. On Varalakshmi Vrata day alone after Ekantaseva a few more rituals are observed. Later the archakas go to Potu (kitchen) and Thirumanjanam is done to Potu Thayar. She is adorned with a new vastra and naivedya is offered to her with preparations made out of Bengal gram. With that the curtain is drawn for the day on the daily worship rituals in the temple. Quite often the rush is so much in the temple town that even within 15 minutess of closing the doors and depositing the keys in the matha, steps for opening it for the next day's suprabhata seva start. The deity is not given the luxury and comfort of a long sleep. He is ever at the beck and call of his sincere devotees. 'Edukondalavada', 'Apadbandhava', 'Vaddikasulavada', 'Sankataharaka', 'Venkataramana', 'Narayana', 'Govinda' - the devotees cry & call for his grace.

This exercise is done everyday, either as an arjita seva (paid service with public allowed to view) or in ekanta (without any public presence) based on the pilgrim rush on that day. Each ticket allows entry for one person and 2 small laddus are awarded as prasadam along with the mixture of milk, almonds from the seva. The duration of the seva is 30 mins.

The exact date of start of the seva is unknown while records exists of Krishnadeva Raya's wives - Chinnaji Devi and Tirumala Devi presenting golden cups to offer milk to Lord in 1513 A.D.