With the Satyanarayana Vratam it is conducting for devotees at the Sri Satyanarayana Swamy temple here proving to be popular and money-spinner as well, the temple board has decided to conduct the Vratam abroad also for the convenience of devotees living in foreign countries.
Speaking to Express, temple executive officer Prasadam Venkateswarlu says that if any organisation invites them and bears the entire expenditure, they will perform Satyanarayana Vratam in other countries. The temple performed the first Vratam outside the country in 2010 when an association invited them to the US to perform it. If any one sponsors the temple priests, they will go to any country to perform the Vratam, temple authorities say.
Meanwhile, steps have been taken to popularise the Vratam on a massive scale. Sri Satyanarayana Vratam is an auspicious ritual performed by devotees on all major occasions like weddings, house-warming, birthdays, etc. Usually, it is performed on the full moon day, Ekadasi, Kartika Purnima, Vaisakha Purnima, solar eclipse day, during the lunar month of Kartika or any other day a devotee wishes.
Many devotees performs the vratam in the evening or night after observing day-long fast. The vratam is very popular in Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra and Karnataka. Many Telugu people living in foreign countries perform it. It a unique vratam with five stories.
The story involves the origin of the puja, its benefits, potential mishaps that may happen if the vratam is not performed after taking a vow to perform it if their wishes are fulfilled. Each story extols the power and benevolence of Lord Satyanarayana, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, and also cautions devotees against ignoring Him. Only couples perform this vratam (observance) which finds mention in the Skanda Purana as narrated by Suta Maharshi to his colleagues in the forest Naimisaaranyam.
The Satyanarayana Swamy temple situated atop the Ratnagiri hill at Annavaramis earns a major portion of its income from conducting the vratam. During 2009-2010 as many as 4,59,327 vratams were performed and the temple earned Rs 9.92 crore and spent Rs 3.64 crore on conducting the special puja. During 2010-2011, as many as 4,78,935 vratans were performed and the income was Rs 10.24 crore and the expenditure Rs 5.14 crore. During 2011-2012 as many as 4,58,282 vratams were performed with an income of Rs 9.40 crore and an expenditure of `5.38 crore. During 2012-13 till January 31, 4,98,896 vratams have been performed.
There are four categories of Satyanarayana Vratam performed at the temple here. For a vratam costing Rs 125, prasadm of 300 gm is given free, for a vratam costing Rs 200, prasadam of 500 gm is given. For the Rs 500 vratam, 600 gm prasadam is given and for the Rs 1,116 vratam, bangi prasadam is given.
There six special vrata mandapams at the temple and about 300 purohits (priests) to conduct it for devotees. The puja, lasting about two hours, consists of Ganesa puja, Navagraha puja and Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy puja. The lord in this form is considered an embodiment of truth.
Ministers, MPs, MLAs, film actors, sportspersons, businessmen and industrialists and many other celebrities make a bee line to the temple to Lord’s benevolence.
The temple management conducted Satyanarayana Vratam in the USA at 10 places in October 2010, and earned $ 40,417. It also received $ 4,964 in donation for its Annadanam scheme. The Satyanarayana Swamy prasadam is delicious and is almost as popular as the Tirupati laddu. It is prepared with wheat, milk, honey, ghee, butter, yoghurt, sugar, smashed bananas, cashews, grated coconut and flower petals. To sell prasadam to those travelling on the highway and are unable to visit the temple, the management has opened counters at the foot of the hill.
Puja material includes kumkum, turmeric, coconuts, bananas, incense sticks, camphor, betel leaves, betel nuts, almonds, copper jars, plates, a mixture of milk, honey, sugar, ghee, curd and sandal paste.