LORD TIRUPATI'S WEDDING TO SRI PADMAVATI
Tirupati, the Home of Lord Venkateswara has long been the destination of many a newly wed couple. The temple is believed to have a particular signification for newly weds as it is believed to be place where Lord Venkateswara married Padmavathy.
An interesting tale forms the backdrop to the temple. Quarrels are not unknown between happily wed couples and the divine ones are no different. Following a spat with Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi left her heavenly abode and came down to the earth. Here she stayed in a hermitage on the banks of the Godavari.
Missing his beloved, Lord Vishnu went to search of her and this search brought him to earth. Ultimately his quest brought him to the Seshadri hills where he stopped to rest in an anthill. Upset by the separation between Vishnu and Lakshmi, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva decided to intervene. Taking the guise of a cow and a calf they went to live at the place of a Chola king.
The cowherd took them everyday to graze in the Seshadri hills where the cow would secretly visit the anthill where Vishnu was living without sustenance. Emptying her milk, the cow would then return to the palace.
The cowherd was angry as the cow never yielded any milk to him. He watched movements carefully and his explorations brought him to the anthill. In trying to ascertain what lay beneath the anthill, he struck it with an axe thus injuring Vishnu on the forehead.
In search of herbs to heal the wound, Lord Vishnu wandered far and wide. His wanderings brought him to the Shrine of Sri Varahaswamy - the third incarnation of Vishnu as a boar. Here, he sought permission to stay, but Varahaswamy wanted a rental to be paid; Vishnu pleaded that he was poor now and needed rent free accommodation. To reciprocate this gesture of goodwill, he said he would tell his devotees to worship Varahaswamy before they worshipped him. The contract sealed, Vishnu built a hermitage and lived there waited on by a devotee, Vakuladevi who looked after him like a mother. In a nearby kingdom ruled King Akasha Rajan. Childless for many years, he had one day found a beautiful baby girl sleeping on a golden lotus in a golden box while ploughing the fields. He had named her Padmavathy. A beautiful and accomplished girl, Padmavathy had been granted a boon in her earlier birth that she would be married to Lord Vishnu. One day, Vishnu, who had been renamed Srinivasan by his devotee and foster mother Vakuladevi, went hunting in the forest. His wandering led him to a garden with a pond. Srinivasan was thirsty and tired. After drinking from the pond, he rested in the shade of a tree. Soon the soft singing of Padmavathy who was dancing in the garden with her companions roused him. He was stunned by her beauty and drawn to her. She too seemed to be drawn to him, but the angry attendants thinking him a mere hunter drove him away.
Depressed and unhappy he poured his troubles out to Vakuladevi. Now for the first time, he revealed to her who he really was and also told her the story of Padmavathy.
In the meanwhile, Padmavathy was dreaming of Srinivasa. She had no idea who he really was and knew that her parents would never let her be married to a hunter.
Srinivasa urged Vakuladevi to approach Padmavathy's father, Akasha Raja, with the marriage proposal. In the meanwhile he disguised himself as a soothsayer and went to the court of Akasha Raja. There, he assured Padmavathy that the hunter she had fallen in love with was no ordinary man but the Lord and told her that the worries would soon be over. Padmavathy too poured out her heart to her parents. At about the same time, Vakuladevi arrived with the marriage proposal. After consulting with the sages Akasha Raja accepted the proposal and invited Srinivasa to attend the wedding on Friday, the 10th day of Vaikasi.
Srinivasa now had arrangements to make. He sought a loan of one crore and 14 lakh coins of gold from Kubera and had Viswakarma, the divine architect create heavenly surroundings in the Seshadri hills.
The day of the wedding arrived, Lord Srinivasa was bathed in holy waters and dressed in jeweled ornaments befitting a royal bride groom. Then he set off in a procession for the court of Akasha Raja. There Padmavathy waited radiant in her beauty. Srinivasa was hailed with an arthi and led to the marriage hall. There the queen and King washed his feet while sage Vasishta chanted the Vedic mantras. Soon the wedding was over and it was time for Padmavathy to take leave of her parents.
Together, they lived for all eternity while Goddess Lakshmi, understanding the commitments of Lord Vishnu, chose to live in his heart forever.
Tirupati, today, stands as a special place, commemorating the marriage between the two. Everyday, a kalyana utsavam celebrates the divine union in a celebration that stretches to eternity. Even today, during the Brahmotsavam at the temple, turmeric, kumkum and a sari are sent from the temple to Tiruchanur, the abode of Padmavathy. In fact Tirupati is rarely visited without paying a visit to Tiruchanur.
In the light of this background, it has become the favored destination of many newly wed couples who pray for a happy wedding - a wedding like that of Srinivasa and Padmavathy.