Finally we saw the Visa Balaji – Chilkur Balaji temple – The Visa Balaji
Chilkur is a small village situated at a distance of 30 kilometers from Hyderabad city. I had heard a lot about it but had not visited the same. I often postpone visiting places as I reserve it for vacation so that both my mother and my nephew will be here and we can visit places along with them. But this time we had to hurry. The reason was my husband had to submit his Visa documents in three days. He has been working on it for months and still not able to complete the same, how can he do that in three days. But his manager asked him to hurry up. So there was no other way, than to take the help of Visa Balaji!
Yes, believe it or not, this Lord Venkateshwara at Chilkur Balaji temple is popularly known as Visa Balaji. All those aspiring to go abroad come here and take his blessings. During the first visit, they will offer 11 Rounds of Pradakshina ( Going around the God or the Temple for 11 times) . Then once their wish is fulfilled they have to come back and offer 108 rounds of PradakshiNa. If you are too lazy to offer the Pradakshina, and if you plan to offer only Dakshina the so called donation to temple in monetary form, this God will not accept.
Yes, the beauty of this place is
ü it does not have Hundi, the box where devotees offer cash to God.
ü Also it does not have separate queue system. All should go in only one line.
ü When we do pradakshina, the Purohits stand their and they keep singing and make devotees sing.
So, coming back to our story, when my husband suddenly came and told me tomorrow we are going to Chilkur Balaji temple, I thought why tomorrow, how can Anagha (my small daughter) get up early? Why early? Why cannot we go afternoon?
He said, ‘No, I heard there will huge rush of devotees, if we can reach their by 7am, then it is ok, afterwards there will be huge crowd’. I said, ok, let us leave at 6.30 then.
We booked the taxi at 6.30 a.m, and it was 7.a.m by the time we left. I was just praying that, let there be not too much crowd, otherwise my husband would scold me for not leaving early!
But to our surprise there was not much vehicle movement in road. So our family friend Mr.Vasant, who accompanied us told, there might not be much crowd today as it is Ganesh Visarjan in Hyderabad. Otherwise by now, we should have come across lot of vehicles. So by God’s grace there was not much crowd when we reached temple. We took Coconut and flower to offer to the God. Mr.Vasant told, they will not accept anything. But the shopkeeper insisted. He told us, we will be allowed to Garbhagudi, the inside shrine where God’s Pooja takes place if we have that Tulasi garland!. We did not believe him, but still took the Tulasi leaves garland, coconut and flower garland. There was no queue at all and we reached the inside of temple very easily. But there were hundreds of people doing the Pradakshina. If on a un-croweded day there are so many people doing Pradakshina, you can imagine what will be the plight on other days, peak days and during afternoon hours.
We got to see the god from outside the shrine, not the inner shrine as told by flower shop keeper!. But Darshan was good. Here also they would ask us to move, but still we could fill our eyes with God’s beauty for atleast 30-40 seconds, as against Tirupati, where you get a glimpse only for fraction of second. After the Darshan and offering flowers, which were kept in the Tray there, we made 11 Pradakshina to God. Even my daughter happily joined us in the Pradakshina. Then we sat in the temple premises for a while as is the custom we follow. Then we had the darshan of Lord Shiva in the same temple.
It is said, in this temple you should not close your eyes in front of Shiva!
Then we had our breakfast at Harita restaurant, run by APTDC. Did some shopping and returned home.
On the way back we stopped at Gandipet Dam and enjoyed the beauty of Water, then stopped at Durgam Cheruvu to get a glimpse of Biggest Ganesha Idol. Returned home before noon happily delighted and blessed!
Doll house festival
In Karnataka we have the tradition of exhibiting all the Dolls neatly and making some themes out of it and invite neighbors to come and have a look at the same. Children are given some sweets. This event happens during the Dasara festival. Dasara festival falls usually during september or Octover month. It is also called as Navaraatri (Nine nights). During those 9 nights every night one or the other festival will be there.
In local language this occasion is called as ‘ Gombe koorisuvudu’ literally translated as ‘seating of Dolls’. This practice started few centuries ago by the Wodeyars the then rulers of Mysore Dynasty.
In this ‘Festival of Dolls’ the dolls are seated in a particular order by making as many rows as needed depending on the number of Dolls. And the rows will resemble a staircase. This is usually done using different sized Benchs or boxes, or combination of what ever is avaialble at home. Then it is covered with white cloth. Then the Dolls are arranged on that.
If a home is having good collection of Dolls, they will reserve each row for one theme. In one row they will narrate the story of Ramayana, another row will be for Mahabharata and so on. These days people include modern dolls with new messages like ‘save environment’ etc.
One keeps buying Dolls and goes on adding to his/her collection.
I was hardly 10 years old when we came to Mysore. During that time we used sow the raagi cereal in a Tray of mud. This would be done few weeks before Dasara. Thus by the time Dasara approached we used to have the raagi grown up resembling the shape of Grass. Thus this this would be used to portray either the Crop field or the Jungle and relevant Dolls would be kept in that plantation. How I wish I want to try that again.
Thus every home which celebrate Doll house festival will make use of its creativity and go on making different themes.
The regular set of dolls we find in these Doll houses are a ‘Marriage set – a Pair of wooden dolls having a bride and groom’ This doll is usually present in all the Brahmin families, as this is given during the time of wedding to the newly wed couple. This ritual might have started during the time of child marriages.
There will be the dolls of Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha. Krishna and Radha. Some village setting and other Gods and Goddesses.
Few mix up the modern toys with the classic toys, I feel it will spoil its ethnic look.
Few years back a colleague of mine had invited me to view the Dolls she had showcased during the Dasara festival. And she gifted me with a Doll. I just love that culture. You keep Dolls, invited people and gift them Dolls, they can make a collection and they will be motivated to do the same for the next Dasara. Hope this culture continues.
Recently I visited the ‘Bombemane’ which exhibits and sells the Dolls from various manufacturers all over the country. Most of the videos and photos I have uploaded are from the same exhibition. But here you can buy the sets at a very high price ( its relative) but you wont get the fun and satisfaction which you get, where in you will buy dolls at different places at different periods and then make a theme out of it. In bombemane you get all theme sets.
The famous Dasara Bombe which I have shown in the photo was priced at 525/- each at Bombemane, and I bought the similar one at Shilparamam, Hyderabad for 300/- per pair.
Finally what I would like to mention is in the fast pace of life, where both husband and wife are working. Kids hardly get any holidays for Dasara, and even if they get they will have loads of homework. its becoming difficult to celebrate all these events. But we definitely spend lot of time in front of Computers or in front of TV, If we borrow few hours from these for the purpose of making these festivals a success, I am sure it will be worth the effort it takes.