A Visit to Simhachalam Temple and the Beginning of the Guru Pooja Celebrations
Thursday morning started with a fire ritual conducted by Sri Kumar and Smt Kumari-Garu in the retreat centre.
The morning fire ritual
Afterwards we were served “umma”, a delicious dish like couscous, and bananas. Around 10 am a very old bus arrived to bring us to Simhachalam to visit the temple. It had a beautiful old diesel roar, awakening like a dragon. Slowly we were rolling through Visakhapatnam, then the road was changing between small bumpy parts and broad lanes with many streetlamps – in the wilderness. Finally we arrived at Simhachalam downhill and the bus immediately started climbing the hill to the uphill station. We were told not to take any phones, cameras and the like to the temple, since now they were strictly forbidden and we would be controlled at the entrance. So we left the luggage in a taxi.
Starting the bus ride
Group members in the bus
Sri Kumar and Kumar Garu joined us at the entrance of the temple. It seemed that the rule with the cameras was valid only for us – inside the temple compound Indians were waiting for us and taking shots in front of the temple entrance – and inside.
In the inner chamber of the temple we participated in a worship ritual, singing the mantram OM Namo Narayanaya. It was a thrilling atmosphere – especially when the priest waved the camphor light and gave us some sacred tulsi herbs together with some water with cardamom. There was a new brass statue of Lord Narasimha at the inner sanctum – and already at the outside there were many new colourful statues of him in different positions. Also different parts of the temple compound were freshly painted and the huge temple entrance door shone in fresh gold colour.
The temple tower is shining through the trees
The huge banyon tree in front of the temple compound
After the visit we descended the long stairway down into the valley to the Guru Pooja compound at Simhachalam downhill, where we were served lunch. Then we went to a small palm forest for a “siesta”. A friend from Barcelona did a special deep relaxation exercise which made me dive deep inside – it opened a profound silence in me.
Around 5.15 pm the Guru Pooja celebration began with a little ritual of Sri Kumar at the Ganesha statue at the backside of the hall, followed by lighting the candles at the main altar and the recitation of mantric songs. After the evening prayer Master Kumar started his lecture in Telugu. It was translated into English and then to German and Spanish. I took my notes in English. Later, after dinner, we drove back to the retreat centre, while most of the Indian members stayed on the Guru Pooja compound at Simhachalam. Answering some e-mails and then I fell asleep – for a short night rest.