This was my third visit to Tirupati. The first was after my marriage where we hardly had any time to know what was happening around us. The second was for the 'mundan' ceremony (of giving the birth hair to the Lord) of my first child and that too passed away with little time to understand the setting. This third visit of mine for the 'mundan' ceremony of my second child was far more enlightening. To begin with, I was amazed by the scale and the grandeur of the entrance to the abode.
Then there was this ceremony of mundan where the waiting time in the free kalyankatta (the place where the mundan is performed) was upwards of six hours. The Temple administration had opened a few more kalyankattas which charge a small fee of Rs/-10. We managed our ceremony in about half an hour. Thereafter we went for darshan. It was very heartening to see that the administration have commenced a seperate darshan for children of less than one year old (along with father n mother) called Supadham darshan. Incidentally Supadham darshan is also for Defence, TTD employees, Newly weds and NRI's also. It was nice of TTD board to extend this facility to these categories especially the Defence as they are guarding our country's borders and therefore may have limited time.
Inside the line there was a fair amount of pushing and pulling but once we entered the temple the rush was too much. The day I went I realised how stampedes take place during religious processions. It was totally mindless of the people because they waited in the queue for 7-10 hours but they could not wait another 5-10 minutes for the people in front to have a peaceful darshan and they themselves have the same. However, such common sense like someone said is not very common and therefore the stampede like situation continued right into the sanctum sanctorum from where the Temple ushers took over in moving crowds forward.
The Sight of the Lord was divine and I was mesmerised for that few seconds I could manage to stand in front of him.
Thereafter I was unceremoniously pulled aside by a Temple usher and I moved out. I looked for the Hundi inside but could not find it. As I came out I saw huge signs reading 'SriVari Hundi' and went there to give my offerings. After the offerings I took the prasad and also went to collect my laddus from the laddu counters. I was quite impressed by the notice in front of every counter (about 40 of them) mentioning the weight of the Laddu and that each devotee is free to measure the weight if in doubt. And believe you me - they installed a digital weighing machine outside every counter. This is another use of technology to curb any malpractices in laddu making (this gains even more significance from the recent event which had come to light where the executive officer of a Temple provided underweight laddus to the devotes over a period of one year without being detected!!).
The collection of the laddu technically marked the completion of our sojourn and we returned back to our room after having dinner. Peculiarly Meals are not available in most of the guest/rest houses of TTD and one has to perforce go to the nearest restaurant which would most of the time be too crowded though the rates are economical. The temple also serves meals to everyone (Anna Danam to reportedly about 40-50,000 people every day)at designated places. I also saw refreshments being given free of cost to people standing in the queue.
All in all, I returned from this trip as a happy man. Whatever little misconceptions that I had about mal practices in Tirupati management were reasonably dispelled by what I observed this time, atleast in the events that concern a common man (as I am not enlightened enough to comment on bigger games played there). I sure look forward to my next trip...