for Replica of Old Hall in Tampa, FL
Artist's rendering of Old Hall in Tampa
On April 15, 2015, devotees of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gathered in Tampa, Florida for a Bhoomi Puja to mark the groundbreaking for construction of an exact replica of the Old Hall that is located at Sri Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai, India. The Old Hall in Tiruvannamalai is sanctified by Bhagavan’s presence for the majority of the last 22 years of His life. Redolent with the aroma of peace and profound spiritual energy, many devotees will bear witness to His continued presence there.
Creating a replica of the Old Hall is the dream of a sincere devotee couple in Tampa named Mathy and Palanisamy Rathinasamy. In 2014 they had purchased a property that is located on the same street as the Hindu Temple in Tampa. This street has a complex of related establishments that, besides the Hindu Temple, also includes a Vishnu Mandir, a Jain Mandir, and an India Cultural Center. Mathy and Palanisamy thought that this would be an ideal location to build a replica of the Old Hall.
The Bhoomi Puja started at 10:30 am on Wednesday, April 15. There were about 25 attendees at the puja. Most of them were Ramana devotees from New York, South Florida and Tampa as well as other Tampa area residents such as temple priests, local Gita teachers, members of the Hindu Temple executive committee, and friends.
The puja was conducted in the northeast corner of the area where the Old Hall will rise to grace the ground that was being consecrated. For the ceremony, we had garlanded pictures of Bhagavan and Arunachala on Easels and a garlanded metal statue of Lord Ganesh.
The puja was conducted beautifully by Gurudutt, the head priest at the Hindu Temple, who had also conducted the Abhishek at the Jayanti Retreat in Tampa. At exactly the same time that the puja was being conducted that morning in Tampa, Anand Ramanan had arranged to have a Sri Chakra puja conducted specially for the occasion at the Matrubhutheswar Temple in Sri Ramanasramam. So this consecration was doubly blessed. By about 11:30 AM the priests had completed the puja and aarti.
After the aarti we had the initial, ritual ground breaking when all the devotees took turns with a pickaxe and spade to help dig a hole in front of the puja area.
Following the creation of a suitably large hole, Mathy, Palanasamy and other devotees placed various sacred objects and substances into the hole including bricks that had been consecrated during the puja, multi-colored sands from Kanyakumari, and water from the Ganga. We also put in Navaratna stones and three stones from Arunachala--all of which Anand Ramanan had arranged to have blessed at Bhagavan's shrine at Sri Ramanaramam and then mailed to Tampa.
The entire ceremony concluded with chanting of Aksharamanamalai. After the ceremony,
all the devotees went to the Hindu Temple canteen to have a Prasadam lunch.
The ceremony started at mid-morning and was concluded by mid-day. Being Florida, the weather was hot and humid. Nevertheless, devotees sat patiently through the ceremony while the hot, blazing sun beat down on hard upon them. This was quite apt and in keeping with the site of the actual Old Hall at Arunachala, the original Agni Kshetra.
During the ceremony, we could tangibly feel the outpouring of Bhagavan’s Grace and vibrational energies that were being generated. There are no words describe their effect on the devotees. Our hearts were filled and we were all profoundly moved. We were further moved by the thought that Bhagavan was conferring upon us a great blessing by allowing us to have the privilege and honor of being present at this momentous occasion: the groundbreaking of the first replica of the Old Hall anywhere. This site is destined to become a center of pilgrimage for devotees and sincere seekers throughout the Western Hemisphere.