Weekly Sevas in Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams
Every Monday after the second bell, the utsava vigraha is brought to the mantapa for what is called 'chaturdasa kalasa visesa puja' (i.e. with 14 kalasas). Seven vessels have the following seven materials (dravyas); Gingelly oil milk, curds, ghee, yellow grain (aksata), darbha and panchagavya and the balance of seven vessels contain suddhodaka (i.e. pure water) with these 14 kalasas, Abhisheka is performed to the utsavamurthi and the two consorts. The ritual goes like this. The archaka seeks the utsavavigrahas anujna i.e., followed by Ankurarpana. This is a very simple ritual of merely putting the grains with palikas. As soon as the palikas are ready, agnihoma is started. Then aavahana is done to the kalasas (i.e., invoking the presence of the deities). The sankalpa to those who are sponsoring a particular arjitha seva is done and the visesha puja starts with rendering upacharas to God, culminating in offering aarti. As panchasuktas are recited thirumanjanam is done to the utsavamurthis starting with milk, water, curds, water, sandal wood paste and water. After the conclusion of abhisheka, aarti is offered and the idol is given a bath with water in the kalasas. Purnahuti is offered so as to herald the conclusion of the homa. Naivedyam is offered to God. The arjitha sevakas are then given vastra bahumanam (A silver laced upper garment) and sathari. This special puja is done normally on Mondays and will not be observed when special festivals like Brahmotsavam, Pavitrotsava etc., take place.
Ashtadala Pada Padmaradhana (Tuesday)
In this seva the god is worshiped with 1008 Golden lotus flowers while performing a special archana. Admission for this seva through "vaikundam complex" and conditions for attending this seva is the participant should attend this seva along with his wife as "dampathi sameetha". It is Ashtadala - Swarna - Padma - Puja. This special puja is celebrated on Tuesdays after the second bell is over and Jiyar swamy with the Sri Vaishnavas comes out. The arjitha sevakas who paid for the seva are allowed to go and sit in the mantapa between Bangaru Vakili and the Kulasekharappadi. Once a Muslim devotee offered 108 golden lotuses each weighing about 23 gms. In this visesha puja, the archaka offered these flowers at the holy feet of the Lord with the uttering of each name, during the recitation of Dvadasanamas of the Lord after offering dhoopa and deepa to the main deity. Later archana is offered to Goddess Lakshmi & Padmavathi. Then ratha aarati is offered first followed by ordinary aarti. Then arjitha sevakas are given vastra (upper cloth) along with sathari.
Sahasra Kalasabhishekam (Wednesday)
This is another unique and exquisite Seva offered to The Lord Venkateswara. It is performed every Wednesday Morning starting 7AM. This special puja is observed before the second bell is over in the morning i.e., after Sattumurai Bhoga Sreenivasa is brought outside the Bangaru Vakili. The idol is placed facing east. The idol will have sambandha daaramu (telugu word) i.e., a thin rope will be tied connecting it with the Mulavigraha in the sanctum. This rope will be tied round the feet of Bhoga Srinivasa at this end and the other end will be placed near the Kati Hasta of the Mulavigraha, thus symbolically involving the Mulabera with the pooja and making it obvious that Bhoga Srinivasa is only representing the Mulavar. Then the utsavavigraha (Malayappa swamy) is also brought and placed outside the Bangaru Vakili facing south. It is as if the trio is presiding over the special puja to be commenced. 1008 silver vessels filled with Abhisheka teertha are kept along with 8 more parivara kalasas and one gold vessel filled with water. The devotees who have paid for the seva are seated in the mantapa around 1008 kalasas and sankalpa is done. Then the puja starts with the recitation of panchasuktas and pancha-santi-mantras. As these mantras are recited, the archakas do Thirumanjana Abhisheka to the idols viz, Bhoga Srinivasa, Malayapa swami and his two consorts and vishvak sena with water in the 1008 kalasas and the eight pavithra kalasas. Finally the golden vessel with water will be carried by one archaka to the accompaniment of recitation of Vedas and mangala vadya in a pradakshina manner round the ananda vimana prakara (inner prakara), round the dhvajasthambha and then taken to Mulasthana (sanctum). Then at the Mulavarsannidhi ekantha - ashtothra - archana is offered to the main deity. This archana is not open to public but is done behind the curtain drawn at the sanctum. The archakas sprinkle (proksana) the water from the golden vessel (Swarna kalasa) on the feet of the deity then symbolically including the Mulavigraha also in the sahasrakalasa Abhisheka puja. The vigrahas near the Bangaru Vakili will be taken back to the sanctum. The second bell rings. Then in the presence of temple officers, Akshataropana ritual will take place in the sanctum i.e., Akshata (holy yellow rice) will be offered at the feet of the main deity. Then the archaka sprinkles some of those grains on his head and then the rest is kept for offering to the temple executives and devotees who take part in the seva. By that time, the curtains will be drawn and the arjitha sponsors have a darshan of the Mulavar. They will be given vastrabahumana, sathari and teertha. One ticket for the Sahasrakalasabishekam allows 6 people to participate with one couple allowed for Sankalpam.
"Prasadam" - 7 Big Laddus, 1/4Kilo each of Sweet Pongal, Pulihora and 7 dosas and 7 vadas.
Tiruppavada Seva (Thursday)
This is a unique and exquisite Seva among all the methods of worship offered to The Lord Venkateswara. It is performed every Thursday Morning starting around 5:30AM. Here is the background.
Starting every Friday thru the early morning of the following Thursday, The standard famous Huge, Wide "Naamam" (a decoration with perfumed camphor paste across the forehead for all forms of Vishnu, The Vaishnavait Hindu God) adorns Sri Venkateswara's forehead covering all but part of His Eyes.
Removing this Naamam and bathing The Lord (Abhishekam) and again adorning Him with a New wide Naamam on the same day (Friday) was considered too time consuming, given the rush of pilgrims and the time constraint for a Seva.
Therefore, The TTD introduced a New Seva every Thursday Morning by the Name of "Tiruppavada" (translated, means a divine skirt, or loosely, a veil). A Huge mound of cooked Tamarind spiced rice (Pulihora) is poured on a gold plated tray (Size about 6 ft X 4 ft) and placed directly in front of The Lord such that it is about a couple of feet in front of His steed, Sri Garudalwar, in the foyer area of The Temple's Sanctum Sanctorum.
Amid Chanting of Mantras, The previous wide Naamam is peeled off and a thin Naamam is adorned on His forehead just to cover the space between His eyebrows. When this happens, it is believed that The Lord's first gaze after "opening" His Eyes (because they were covered by The Naamam) should NOT fall on mortals, because it has so much power. Instead, it is made to fall on the mound of "Pulihora" directly in front of Him, thereby sanctifying it and reducing the intensity of His Gaze. The "Pulihora" therefore acts like a Veil ("Paavada" in Telugu/Tamil) protecting devotees from His Powerful Gaze.
This new Thin Naamam then stays for the entire Thursday, and finally peeled off completely in the early hours of the next morning (Friday) during Abhishekam.
One ticket for the Tiruppavada Seva allows 6 people to participate including one couple for Sankalpam and begets a full basket of Sacred food cooked inside The Temple - "Prasadam" - 7 Big Laddus, 1/4Kilo of Pulihora, 5 humongous Jilebis (only cooked for this Seva), 5 dosas, and 5 big Vadas and 5 Jilebi Vadas.
Abhishekam is a Sanskrit word for the sacred bath that is performed to the idol of the main presiding deity in any Hindu temple. Based on ancient Hindu spiritual customs, this is performed once a week, typically on Fridays. As a Hindu custom, this Seva is for wedded couples (a male husband and a female wife) Only. As a "don't-disturb" rule, children under 12 years of age are not admitted - No exceptions. In Tirumala, it assumes a most ethereal, rare significance in that it is the most sought after "seva" (form of worship for the Lord by a devotee). Devotees virtually make a beeline for this Seva because watching the priests bathe the idol is the most emancipating of experiences, given that the belief of the devout that the idol is actually a manifestation of the Supreme Divine being Himself and not just a manually carved idol.
Types of Abhishekam Seva: This Seva is of 4 kinds - Only 3 of them are advertised, the 4th being the most expensive of all Sevas in Tirumala, and naturally, the least advertised.
2. Musk Vessel
3. Civet Vessel
Lord Malayappa swami Utsava Murthy during Thirumanjanam (another form of Abhishekam) - Friday's Abhishekam is NOT Done to the Utsava Murthy - It is performed on The Main Idol of The Lord in The Sanctum Sanctorum
There is really no difference in the current manner of treatment of devotees who paid for either of these Sevas. It used to be different in old times when the number of devotees availing this seva used to be smaller.
Each of these cost INR 750. Each of the couples are given a small silver vessel (that can hold about 0.5 gallons of water) that the priests help fill with water brought from the Sacred Hill stream of "Akasa Ganga" (The Heavenly Ganges). The couples carry the water round the Temple once and are then led into the Sanctum Sanctorum where it is taken from them and poured on The Lord during the Sacred Bath. The 4th Seva is called "Vasthralakarana Seva", or "Mel Saatthu Vastram" (In Tamil, this literally means "The cloth that adorns the body exterior"). This costs INR 12,250 and has a waiting list of 7 years. Only 8 tickets (for 8 couples) are reserved every Friday for this and the TTD gets request list of at least 100 every time. The lucky couples get the extreme bliss of carrying the heavy silk Holy Sari that will adorn the Lord subsequently in a heavy silver plate, carrying the silver plate on their head around the temple before being let into the Sanctum Sanctorum. The husband carries the sari while the wife carries the silver vessel and partakes in a small worship before the Abhishekam and hands over the sari from the priests to her husband.
For that Friday, the sari that was carried by the first of the 8 couples adorns the deity but the other sarees are catalogued and dates are assigned when they would adorn the deity.
The Seva Detail: It takes about 3 hours from around 2.30 a.m. through 6.30 a.m. for the entire Seva to complete and to come out of the temple. A team of 4-5 priests perform the Abhishekam based on a previous roster. 2 priests carry the water from outside in huge vessels into the Sanctum Sanctorum. A 3rd priest holds a perforated circular silver disc of about 3 ft in diameter over the deity's head. As for the deity, all bedecked gold and diamond ornaments, clothing, and finery is taken before this bath. The Lord only wears a white loin, and a heavy gold necklace bearing a pendant with Sri Mahalakshmi's seated pose. 4th priest pours the water from those huge vessels into a small silver special nosed vessel and keeps on handing it over to the chief priest who stands atop a wooden stool to give him that height to reach over The Lord's head, and pours the water slowly to the marvellously melodious vedic chanting of the Pancha Suktam - Purusha Suktam, Sri Suktam, Bhoo Suktam, Nila Suktam, and Santhi Vachanam. The Pancha Suktam is recited by 4 other priests whose only duty that morning will be the chanting of the Suktams. The water that the chief priest pours over The Lord's head trickles onto His Body through the several perforations in the silver plate that the 3rd priest holds. The sight simply enthralls the devotess into ecstacy and can only be beheld visually. Just before the chanting of the Sri Suktam, one of the priests brings a heavy silver cup full of semi-fluid, sandal powder that is viscous yet fluid enough to flow like syrup. As the Sri Suktam is recited, the chief priest pours this sandal paste solution over the heavy golden necklace of Sri Mahalakshmi that hangs over Lord Venkateswara's left side chest.
The Abhishekam concludes with the Santhi Mantram and curtains are drawn to dress up The Lord - the devotees await their visual delight - Lord Venkatewara with a freshly prepared Namam, dress, and some of the ornaments.
Nijapada Darsanam (Friday)
Archana anantara darshan on Friday is called Nijapada Darsanam. The seva allows piligrims to see the feet of The Lord Venkateswara. The Devotees are allowed one step inside the First prakaram of sanctum. Each ticket (Rs. 200/) allows one person and one small laddu is offered as prasadam.