Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Religious Fervor
SUNNYVALE, California. — A magnificent idol of Lord Ganesha set a tone of auspiciousness right at the entrance of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple. Volunteers added warmth to the whole atmosphere by helping the visitors with parking, shoes and registrations. The sound of priests performing mantras purified the whole ambience and the decorations reflected the celebrations permeating the entire premises.

This is how the Hindu Temple and Community Center here celebrated its Silver Jubilee, with the grand three-day celebration starting May 26 and culminating May 28.
(L-r) Sunnyvale Hindu Temple president Balwant Birla, Rani Kumra, and Sudesh Birla seen with temple priests at the inaugural puja to launch the 25th anniversary celebrations. (Som Sharma photos)
(L-r) Sunnyvale Hindu Temple president Balwant Birla,
Rani Kumra, and Sudesh Birla seen with temple priests at
the inaugural puja to launch the 25th anniversary celebrations. (Som Sharma photos)
Each of the three days was packed with religious rituals, great food and cultural performances. The elaborate celebrations were kicked off with a Ganesh Havan in the morning followed by continuous religious rituals throughout day. In the evening, 108 ladies came together to worship Goddess Lalitha Devi by performing kumkumaarchana 100,000-times in a ceremony called Laksha Kumkumarchana.

The second day started with Mahrudra Japam. In this ceremony, Rudram was recited 10331 times by 120 Ritwiks.

The temple had invited priests from around the U.S., including Boston, Mass.; Michigan, Florida, and Texas to participate in the Maharudra Yajanam.

On the third day, Shatakunda Mahayagam was performed, which was a first in the Bay Area. In this ritual, 108 families performed Mahamrityunjya Havan.
Some of the devotees of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple participating in one of the numerous ceremonies to mark the temple’s grand Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
Some of the devotees of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple
 participating in one of the numerous ceremonies to
mark the temple’s grand Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
The religious celebrations culminated with Pancha Kalyanotsavam, which is a popular religious activity from the southern part of India. This was a colorful celebration of five divine marriages of five gods and goddesses, including Balaji, Shiva-Parvathi, Seetarama, Rama Satyanarayana and Karthikeya.

Pandit Raghav Prasad, who has been associated with this temple for the last five years, told India-West, “We created committees to take care of each and every aspect starting from food to decorations to parking. Over 60 volunteers have worked hard for the last one month to make this program a success.”

The three-day celebration was attended by approximately 10,000 devotees. Well-practiced participants from 30 music and dance schools from all across Bay Area created a celebratory ambience. It was a delight to watch dancers from ages seven and up, decked up in traditional costumes, perform Indian classical dance forms like Bharatnataym, Kuchipudi, Odissi, and Mohiniattam.
The 108 Havana Kunada puja was just one of many pujas performed by the devotees over the three-day celebrations. (Som Sharma photos)
The 108 Havana Kunada puja was just one of many
pujas performed by the devotees over the three-day celebrations.
(Som Sharma photos) 
Devotees lovingly served simple, yet delicious food in the vast dining hall of the temple throughout the course of the three-day event.

“We are serving all meals and snacks through the day. Once a devotee comes to the temple during these three days, they can enjoy the celebrations without worrying about going home,” Pandit Raghav Prasad explained.

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The Hindu Temple and Community Center was created with a vision to help Hindus practice their religion joyfully while living in this part of the United States. From Janamashtami to Ganesh Chaturthi to Diwali, all Hindu festivals are celebrated with equal enthusiasm.

It also runs a Gurukul for children between 6 and 11 years. The Gurukul teaches the basics of Hinduism, shlokas (religious hymns), bhajans, yogasnas and pranayama. Going forward, the temple is looking at initiating activities involving senior citizens and youth. Classes for Bhagwad Gita and Sanskrit are also under consideration.

“The temple administration is also moving towards going green by replacing paper with stainless steel products,” Rani Kumra, who is a part of the core committee of the temple, told India-West.
Following several cultural performances to mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Hindu Temple & Community Center in Sunnyvale, Calif., Temple board member Sanjay Birla (left) awards certificates to some of the artists, along with his wife Shweta Birla (2nd from right). (Som Sharma photos)
Following several cultural performances to mark the occasion of
the 25th anniversary of the Hindu Temple &
Community Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.,
Temple board member Sanjay Birla (left) awards certificates
 to some of the artists, along with his wife
Shweta Birla (2nd from right). (Som Sharma photos)
“My husband, Mr. Balwant Birla, took over as the president of Hindu Temple & Community Center South Bay over a year back,” Sudesh Birla told India-West. “Since then we have worked hard to eliminate any wastage of resources. We are in a comfortable position as far as finances are concerned, with regular donations from devotees. They conduct small and big religious ceremonies here, sponsor meals and the number is increasing gradually,” added Sudesh Birla, who is actively involved in the functioning of the temple.

For temple board member Sanjay Birla, one of the biggest accomplishments of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple has been to “keep our culture going” for our children and future generations of Indian Americans, he told India-West. Noting that his son was born and raised in the Bay Area, Birla said that this is the best temple that has continued to keep our culture alive for the community.

The temple officials also wanted to thank all the devotees, volunteers, and participants for working hard to ensure this celebration was a success.

_______IW

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