UK - National Prayers for Peace
The widely-anticipated event, the National Prayers for Peace, commenced with a team of dedicated volunteers beginning the process of setting up on Friday. Devotees from all across the country then gathered at the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple in Tividale on the Saturday to continue preparing for the event, working across the clock to ensure that each brick for the havan kund was laid perfectly, each flower was carefully sown on the garlands, and the pooja items were placed neatly, ready for fifty couples to use the next day. The list of tasks appeared endless, but the circa seventy volunteers worked tirelessly to get everything done.
Sunday had finally arrived, with volunteers applying the finishing touches, whilst Vedam chanters and those performing the pooja got ready. The sixty Vedam chanters began the procession from the Shirdi Temple, with the Shiva Lingam being carried behind. As they entered the hall, the sound of the Vedas beautifully collided with the melodies of bhajans and all were able to take their first darshan.
Region 4 President, Sister Manisha Patel, welcomed the gathering and then the three priests began with various prayers to invoke the right atmosphere. The main part of the pooja began as eleven rounds of Namakam and Chamakam were chanted vibrantly, whilst the central pooja was carried out. As the priests poured all the offerings and libations onto the Lingam, so did each couple on their Padukas. The power of the Vedas being chanted could be felt by everyone in the tent, each person sat transfixed as they absorbed the vibrations permeating the air.
Once the final round of Rudram was chanted, the priests continued with various other mantras, and then finally took to dressing the Divine Lingam. The curtain was removed and all the devotees were able to have darshan whilst the Young Adults sang Stotrams and Bhajans. A delicious Mahaprashadam was served by the temple volunteers before the devotees departed.