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U.S. Travel Diaries - A visit to SVS (Balaji) temple at Aurora, IL

SVS Temple, Aurora, IL
Om Namo Venkatesaya! Yedukondalavada Venkataramana! Govinda! Govinda!

These chanting reverberate in the sacred Hills of Tirumala. It would be a more thrilling / divinely experience to hear these chanting in a western country / on the other side of the world i.e the U.S.

Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple in short known as SVS (Balaji) temple is located at 1145, Sullivan Road in Aurora (Greater Chicago), IL i.e Illinois state of the U.S. This temple is one of the must visit Hindu temples in the U.S. The temple is at a distance of approx 1 hour drive from Chicago, IL.

The temple is an excellent weekend getaway for desi Indians in Chicago, IL. On entering into the temple, the taste buds of the visitors get stimulated with the mouth-watering aroma of the South Indian foods from the SVS canteen which is at the entrance. The appetite / urge for eating tasty South Indian idlies and dosas increases on entering the temple. Frankly speaking, it is these mouth-watering South Indian foods which is more tempting to Indians in Chicago who long for these typical delicacies, than the tranquil ambiance of the temple. However, a weekend visit to this beautiful temple nourishes the soul and the stomach as well. The temple is heavily crowded with Indians during weekends, particularly with bachelors who can be seen carrying packets full of South Indian foods etc.
There is a large parking lot inside the sprawling temple campus which gets crowded during special occasions like New Year's day, Makara Sankranti etc. The spacious area inside the campus with man-made ponds adds to the beauty of the place. The temple is built in a typical South Indian style of 'gopuram'.

The temple offers regular poojas / services like:
1. 'archana'
2. 'abhishekams'
3. 'vehicle-pooja' etc.

Special poojas like:
1. 'Mrityunjaya Homam' / pooja
2. 'Navagraha Homam' / pooja
3. 'Nakshatra Santi Homam' / pooja
4. 'Chandi Homam'

Special poojas on special days / events include:
1.Dhanur masam celebrations
2. Makara Sankranti celebrations
3.Ratha Saptami

Other special occasions / poojas include 'Deepavali' when the temple is crowded with devotees.

Many religious activities like 'pravachanams' (spiritual discourses), classical dances etc are conducted in 'Panchavati' - a separate building for cultural activities and for conducting social functions like traditional Hindu marriages.

It even offers services / facilities like providing space and priest (purohit) for conducting family functions. You can even engage a priest for house-warming ceremony (grihapravesam).

Besides, SVS canteen, as in every place in the U.S, there a gift shop inside the temple where you can get all pooja related items including books, CDs, 'panchangam' (almanac) etc and a library for the devotees.

The temple remains open from 9 a.m to 9 p.m - Monday through Sunday. You have to walk through the SVS canteen to enter the main temple ('Sannidhi') in the 1st floor where you feel at home in the U.S with Indians of all age groups mostly in traditional attire and moving / running here and there with loud talks in their mother-tongues (Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Hindi etc). Devotees making fast 'pradakshinas' by over-taking one another as seen in most of the temples in South India.

All these remind you of your home country for a while and makes you feel that Indians are Indians!

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