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Lord Balaji’s maiden trip to Nepal

world Updated: Feb 13, 2012 23:50 IST
Utpal Parashar

Leaving his Tirumala abode in Andhra Pradesh, Lord Venkateswara, popular as Balaji, will travel nearly 3,000 km northwards to Nepal this month to meet devotees.

Malayappa Swami, the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara Temple, along with his two consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, will be kept at the Tundikhel ground in Kathmandu on February 24 for public viewing.

This is the first time the idols are being brought to the former Hindu nation which became a secular republic in 2008 after monarchy was abolished.

Kathmanduites will also get a chance to witness the wedding ceremony of the deity with his consorts. Known as sriniwas kalyanam, the ceremony is likely to be viewed by 35,000 devotees.

"Nepali people will have the opportunity to see the same idol that is worshipped at Tirumala," said non-resident Nepali businessman Upendra Mahato, organizer of the event.

According to the organizers, the temple authorities won’t charge anything for the trip. Devotees will be allowed free access and money collected from donations will be used for charity work in Nepal.

Due to security reasons, the organizers didn’t divulge how the idols will be brought to the country. Once the ceremony is over, the idols will be taken back to the Lord Venkateswara Temple.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, the trust that manages the temple, organizes such ‘divine weddings’ across India with the latest being held in Nasik (Maharastra) last month.

"This is the first time idols of Malayappa Swami and his consorts are being taken to Nepal. Earlier they were taken to Dubai, Kuwait, UK and the US," said Ravi Thalari, PRO at TTD, over phone.

According to the TTD website, such events are aimed at spreading devotion and promote spiritual values "in masses especially among the youth".

Malayappa Swami is a form of the main deity—Moolavirat or Dhruva Beram—which is taken out of the sanctum sanctorum for processions. The idol along with the two consorts is called Utsava Beram.

Lord Venkateswara Temple is the second richest pilgrimage centre among all religions and with nearly 40 million visitors annually---the most visited holy site in the world.