The Chicago Shatha Chandi Mahayagnam - a Memoir by Meera Kannan

Sri Matre Namaha!! Sri Gurubhyo Namaha!!

The much anticipated Chicagoland Shatha Chandi Mahayagnam that was conducted over a three day period by disciples of Bhaskara Prakasha Ashram from Friday, June 29th to Sunday, July 1st was a bliss-filled experience for all of us. The rare presence of Sri Gnanananda Teertha Swamigal and Sri Yegnarathnam mama was  a delight for all devotees, and so were the loving presence of  our gurus Smt. Akhila manni and Sri Raghu anna.  

On Friday, the evening’s program started off with a soulful performance of Sri. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s navavarna krithis by the local artists. Their beautiful renditions created  the perfect ambiance for the Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Kumkuma Laksharchana by 108 Suvasinis. The highly sacred Navavarna poojai by Sri Swamigal on all the days was an added treat to all who thronged the place.

On Saturday morning, the day’s program started off with the recitation of  the Vedas, Upanishads and Rudrabishekam , and these were followed by one round of the Devi Mahatmiyam parayanam. While this was going on, the Navavarna poojai was conducted by Sri Swamigal . The highlight of the event- the 108 Suvasini Poojai - was a rare sight to behold. Each Suvasini was ascribed a naamaah from the Devi Vaibhava Ascharya Ashtothra Shatha Namavali and, she was treated as a Goddess Herself with the upachara poojas being offered after Avaahanam. Everyone who attended this poojai was moved and felt the palpable presence of the Goddess Herself. This was followed by the highly auspicious and rare  Thithi Nithya poojai celebrating the Goddess within each Suvasini. The concluding prayers for that session were Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam, Sri Vaibhava Ashcharya Ashtottha Stotram and The Sri Lalitha Trishathi Stotra parayanam.

The evening program began with the well-known Abhirami Andadi and Abhirami Pathigams in praise of Ambal by Abhirami Bhattar, a true devotee of Ambal. Yegnarathnam mama gave us a bhakthi filled and highly moving speech on the karuna aspect of the  Devi and the proper method of worshipping Her as it is laid down in Sri Tripura Sthavaraja.

Sunday morning was replete with all the special homams that one could imagine. Since it was Sankatahara Chaturthi, special prayers were offered to Lord Ganapathy with the Chathuravartti Tarpanam by Sri. Sridhar Sivaraman mama. After a recitation of  the Upanishads, Ganapathy Homam, Rasi Graha Nakshatara Yogini Homam, Rudra homam , Sundari Garbhita Purusha and Sri Suktha homam, , Navakshari Moola Mantra homam, Chandi homam, and the Sri Vidya Navavarana homam were conducted by our gurus in strict accordance with the procedures and rules laid down in the shastras.

While these homams were taking place, the Navavarna poojai was being performed by Sri Swamigal to the Kalashas and the Sri Chakram. Simultaneously, the Kanya poojai(11 of them) and Vatuka Poojai (10 of them) and Sumangali Poojai were offered. The  Dampathi poojais were offered to our Gurus as we sought their blessings.  The concluding prayers and mantras of the Chandi Homam were a sight to behold.

At the volunteer appreciation meet, Sri Yegnarathnam mama’s parting words of advice inspired us all, and the most stunning aspect was that his speech was followed immediately by a rejuvenating shower of rain. Mama later told us that The Devi was extremely happy with the effort of Her children and this was Her way of manifesting it. We were thrilled and humbled.

On the concluding day, all of us, devotee-volunteers felt that we were a part of a huge family all with the focused purpose of Loka kalyanam. What better way of spending a weekend than celebrating the glory of Shri Mahashodashi!!

We thank Sri VijayaGanesh for these amazing photos from the Shata Chandi Maha Yagnam

May we all come together again very soon for lokakshema !! Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu!

Chicago Shata Chandi Maha Yagnam 2018