The Brahmotsavam or the annual festival is
celebrated in Tirumala for nine days when the sun enters Kanya Rasi from "Aswayuja
Shuddha Padyami" to "Aswayuja Shuddha Dasami" during
September - October.
This Utsavam is said to have been first celebrated by Brahma Himself; hence the name. Every morning and evening 'Utsavamurtis' are taken round the temple on different "Vahanams" (vehicles) decorated in varied raiments, glittering ornaments etc.
The Car Festival
The fifth and the eighth days of the festival are especially significant as the "Garudotsavam" and the "Rathotsavam" or Car Festival takes place on these days. "Arjithabrahmotsavam" can be celebrated by devotees upon payment on days other than the days of the Brahmotsavam. In fact, no Arjitha Sevas are performed during Brahmotsavam.
Brahmotsavam- A Nine Day Celebration
Dhwajarohana is conducted on the first day of Brahmotsavam. Near the "Srivari Alaya Dhwajasthambham", "Garudadhwaja" (flag with the emblem of a black 'Garuda') is hoisted. This signals the start of Brahmotsavam.
Tirumala Hills, the abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara, is believed to be the manifestation of "Adisesha". In commemoration to this, the Lord is carried in a procession around the streets of Tirumala on the "Seshavahana" (vehicle shaped like "Adisesha") during the first two days of Brahmotsavam ('Pedda Seshavahana' and 'Chinna Seshavahana'). The meaning of 'Sesha' is 'to serve'. 'Adi Sesha' is a thousand-headed serpent, on whom Lord Sri Maha Vishnu rests in his abode, 'Vaikuntam'.
On the second day, the Lord is taken around the streets of the Venkateswara temple on the 'Chinna Seshavahana' in the morning. In the night, the 'Unjal Seva' is performed at "Uyala Mandapam", after which the deities are taken around the streets of Tirumala on the "Hamsavahana" ('Hamsa' or swan means 'pure').
Lord Venkateswara uses the "Simhavahana" ('Simha' meaning lion), as his vehicle on the third day morning of Brahmotsavam. In the night, Unjal Seva is conducted and the deities then ride in the "Mutayalapandiri Vahana" (a vehicle made of pearls).
On the fourth day, the deities are carried in a "Kalpavriksha Vahana" in the morning. Kalpavriksham is a tree that is believed to grant boons and fulfill devotee's wishes. The vehicle shaped like the 'Kalpavriksham' signifies that the Lord grants boons and fulfils the wishes of his devotees. In the night, after the Unjal Seva, the deities are carried in a "Sarvabhoopala Vahana". ('Sarvabhoopala' means 'all the kings of Mother Earth').
On the fifth day morning, "Mohini Avatarotsavam" is celebrated to commemorate the Lord's incarnation as Mohini. The Lord is dressed like Mohini, and taken in a procession in a Palaquin.
According to legend, the Devatas and the Demons performed Ksheerasagaramadhanam" that resulted in 'Amrit' (nectar which when consumed grants immortality) and other sacred qualities. The 'Devatas' and the Demons fought for possession of the Amrit. Lord Vishnu then assumed the form of 'Mohini' (a beautiful woman) and procured the Amrit for the Devatas.
After the Unjal Seva in the night, the Lord is decorated with 'Mahaakanti', 'Sahasranaramala', and is carried along with his consorts on "Garuda Vahana". Lord Vishnu is the God of the Vedas, and Garuda, the king of birds is a replica of the Vedas. The Lord sees Himself in Garuda, and therefore He selected Garuda as his vehicle for the most important day of the Brahmotsavam. Garuda Vahana is the greatest of all the Vahanas and on this day large number of pilgrims come to visit the temple.
Hanumad Vahana is a beautifully decorated vehicle, on which the Lord is carried on the sixth day morning. Devotees believe that they are indeed blessed if they catch a glimpse of the Lord on Hanumad Vahana (The Vehicle of Hanuman). Unjal Seva is not performed on the sixth day. Instead, Vasantotsavam (spring festival) is celebrated. In the night, the Lord is mounted on the Gaja Vahana (Gaja meaning elephant) and taken in a procession.
On the seventh day morning, the Lord rides on "Suryaprabha Vahana" (Sun chariot). After the Unjal Seva in the night, the Lord is taken in the "Chandraprabha Vahana" (moon-shaped vehicle) around the brightly lit streets of Tirumala. It is believed that riding in the Chandraprabha Vahana is a soothing experience for the Lord. The Lord's contentment will bring peace to devotees' minds and result in a good crop.
'Rathotsavam' is celebrated on the eighth day, in which the Lord is seated in a "Ratham" (chariot) and taken in a procession in the morning. It is believed that those who witness Rathotsavam will not be reborn. The idols of "Daruka" (the charioteer of Lord Sri Krishna) and the four horses ('Saibyam', 'Sugreevam', 'Meghapushpam' and 'Valahakam') are placed before the decorated idols of the Lord and his consorts.
This symbolises that the lord's charioteer is driving the chariot. The chariot is pulled along by devotees, who chant Govinda! Govinda! This is the only opportunity that devotees get to be of service to the Lord during Brahmotsavam, and so on this day too pilgrims gather in large numbers. After the Unjal Seva in the night, the deities are taken in the "Aswa Vahana" ('Aswa' meaning horse).
On the last day, 'Pallaki Seva' and 'Chakrasnana Mahotsavam' in the morning and 'Dhwajavarohanam' in the evening are performed. The processional images are anointed with oil, turmeric powder and other auspicious ingredients and "Abhishekam" is performed. 'Sudarsan Chakram' is given a bath in the "Swami Pushkarini". Dhwajavarohanam or lowering the Garuda flag is carried out in the evening of the last day and it signals the end of Brahmotsavam.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Rail: Tirupati is the nearest railway station. There are trains that travel via Renigunta or Gudur, but do not touch Tirupati. In such cases, Renigunta (just 10-km from Tirupati) or Gudur (100-km from Tirupati), are convenient points to alight. From Renigunta/Gudur, you can reach Tirupati by train, bus, or taxi.
Buses: APSRTC buses run from all the important places in the state and between Tirupathi and Tirumala. TTD also runs buses between Tirupati and Tirumala, free of cost. Taxis are also available.