Preparing for the Purtassi pilgrimage
HE North West Tamil Federation will be facilitating its third annual pilgrimage to the Balaji Temple of Gaborone in Botswana, which is a scaleddown version of the Thirupathi Temple in India.
Federation president, Pregy Pillay, initiated the pilgrimage with the idea of promoting and educating people on the auspicious month of Purtassi, which will start on September 17.
Purtassi is a holy month on the Tamil calendar where devotees go on pilgrimage to Thirupathi to pay tribute to Lord Vishnu, the divine preserver of the universe.
“It was in this month of Purtassi that Lord Vishnu, in the form of Lord Venketeshwara (also known as Lord Balaji), came to guide people and left his form in Thirupathi, India. Since then people from all parts of the world flock to Thirupathi to pay homage as a thanksgiving for all that the divine Lord bestowed upon us,” explained Pillay.
He said the pilgrimage was a divine and humbling feeling.
“It is a sacred journey where pilgrims experience worship and associate with people of similar divine interest. So if you have the opportunity to embark on a pilgrimage, you should take advantage of it.”
For South African devotees, who live hectic lifestyles, the Thirupathi Balaji of Botswana offers an accessible yet affordable opportunity for people to go on a short pilgrimage.
“There is a need for our people to understand the importance of maintaining fast and prayers during this holy month of Puratassi,” said Pillay.
“This Puratassi pilgrimage, is facilitated annually, on the first Saturday of every Puratassi and this year devotees from Durban have organised a bus and will be joining us.
“The Durban bus will depart at 7pm on Friday, September 22, from the MTSS Hall in Merebank, while the Gauteng buses will leave at around 6.30am on Saturday from Midrand, Lenasia, Laudium and Benoni. Our pilgrims are expected to cross the Botswana border at around 10am and check-in to their respective hotels.”
Prayer and offerings at the Thirupathi Balaji Temple, said Pillay, would be between 4 and 8pm on the Saturday evening.
“Devotees can also participate in the tonsure (shaving of their hair) and Archanai (prayer). Sunday includes visits to the Iskon’s Hare Krishna Temple, the Satya Sai Baba Centre and Clinic, the Seikh Gurudwara (Seikh Temple) and the Swaminarayan Mandir. We are hoping everyone has a bhakthi filled (devotional) weekend to set the month of Puratassi.” The group is scheduled to depart from Botswana on September 24 from 2pm.
Those wanting to join the pilgrimage can register online at www.purtassipilgrimage.org.za, or WhatsApp Pregy Pillay on 083 626 7512