The Crowning Glory of Lord Venkateswara in Hamilton

Venkat Raman

When our Hindu Religious Columnist Ragavan Rengachariar sent us the Gold and Gems-Studded ‘Kritam,’ (Ornamental Headdress) that adorns Lord Venkateswara, the Main Deity at the Balaji Temple in Hamilton, the Divine Implication was that we would write about the Crowning Glory of one of the most Opulent Hindu Gods in the world.

The picture of the Kritam (weighing 6.5 kgs with about 7000 gem stones) was so captivating that it warranted a study of how it came to be in Hamilton, which arguably is the only Home for the Lord Venkateswara (popularly known as Lord Balaji) in New Zealand.

For those not in the know, the ‘Original Abode’ of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala Hills (Tirupati) in Andhra Pradesh attracts more than 40 million devotees of almost all religions (although mainly Hindus) every year. The value of jewellery in this Temple is estimated at US$11 billion including about 300 tonnes of gold. The Tirupathi Temple is stated to be the second richest Temple in the World after the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala with its total assets estimated at US$18 billion.

Indian Newslink has extensively covered the Balaji Temple in Hamilton since it was officially inaugurated on March 9, 2015.

Soon after inauguration, Trustees of the Temple sourced ornaments from Chennai for all the Deities, except the two Hands for Lord Venkateswara. Jewellers in India advised  that the Hands must be specially made for the Hamilton Temple.

The installation of the precious Crown has had its own challenges and colourful story, which began with the design of the two Divine Hands of the Lord, known as ‘Abhaya Hastham’ and ‘Kadiya Hastham.’

The Divine Hands

Abhaya Hastham denotes the ‘Protection-Affording Hand,’ wherein the palm of the Hand, with the fingers pointing upwards, is exposed as if engaged in enquiring about the welfare of the visitor in the Hindu fashion.

According to Hindu religious scholars, there are two positions of the forehands (Hastha Mudras), with the right hand in blessing posture (Abhaya Hastham) and the left hand in downward position (Varada Hastham) signifying grant of boons.

But in the Statue of Lord Venkateswara, the Hastha Mudras are different and arranged in the opposite direction by closing the blessing posture.

Changing the “boon-giving” left hand to right means that the Lord gives boons and fulfils the desires and relieves His devotees of their problems.

The left hand, with the fingers from the wrist turned inward signifies that it is not customary to bless with the left hand.

Hand-Made Ornament

The arrival of Pandurangan Narasimhan as the Priest in March 2016 proved to be propitious. His extensive experience in sourcing ornaments for the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple  (or Thiruvarangam located at Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu) and other Temples in India and the USA helped in quickening the process. Lord Balaji was soon adorned with ‘Yagnopaveetham’ (Sacred Thread worn across the body from the left shoulder to the right), Lakshmi Padakam and Sadari in July 2017.

Making Headway

The two decorated, golden hands of the Lord were so mesmerising that an ardent devotee, who prefers to remain anonymous, offered to meet the cost of making a Crown.

“The Lord must have a Gold Crown, studded with jewellery. Cost is not an issue. Speed and efficiency are of the essence,” he is reported to have said.

The Trustees placed an order in August 2017 and it took (understandably) seven months to design and produce the Crown.

“When the Lord ordains, there is no stopping,” is the belief, true to which Lord Balaji is believed to have found His own carrier. The Crown arrived in Auckland on April 7, 2018.

However, that was not the end of anxiety.

The storm in Auckland and the resultant power outage kept the Crown in the custody of Customs- the only Shining Object in darkness.

The scheduled date of ‘Coronation of the Lord’ on April 14, 2018 seemed impossible.

“And lo and behold, the Crown was cleared by Customs on April 13, 2018 and arrived in Hamilton at 9 am the next day. The ‘Govinda Pattabhisheka Mahotsavam’ was completed on time, marking the dawn of ‘Vilambi,’ Tamil New Year.”

The Trustees of Balaji Temple Hamilton have expressed their gratitude Dr Vijay Pera and Dr Deepika Pera, Priest Pandurangan and artiste, Ravikumar Sthapathi for their contributions in the successful completion of the ‘Crown Project.’

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  1. The Crown for the Lord (Picture Supplied)
  2. Lord Venkateswara in His Ornamental resplendency at Balaji Temple in Hamilton (From Facebook)
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