How it all began?
We are a few devoted followers of Lord Ayyappa who first met in the Sri Raja Ganapathi Temple (SRGT) in Swedesboro, New Jersey. We played a key role in organizing the monthly Ayyappa Bhajans and the annual Sashtha Preethi pooja at the temple. We were united in our love for Lord Ayyappa and passionate about uniting devotees to sing bhajans that glorified the Lord’s splendor.
When the COVID pandemic struck in 2020, our small group of devotees were no longer able to gather at the temple for bhajans or devotional events. That’s when we started hosting online gatherings on Zoom, and thanks to technology, individuals could participate in devotional events and sing bhajans together. What started with 5 or 6 participants quickly grew into a group of 15 to 20.
What led to the creation of Akhanda Ayyappa Bhajans?
Monthly bhajans turned into weekly Saturday Bhajans; the sessions were lively, and participants were grateful for a spiritual retreat amid trying times. Ironically, the weekly bhajans were switched back to monthly as the COVID pandemic began to wind down, and participants resumed their usual lives. However, it was at this point when one of us had a vision and voice from Lord Ayyappa asking for a more intense event to be conducted. This led us to start planning for an online Ayyappa Bhajan Event, utilizing Zoom as a platform in which devotees from all over the world could participate.
The idea for the Akhanda Ayyappa Bhajans event emerged from the auspicious occasion of Sankranthi when the Lord Ayyappa’s “Thiruvabaranam” (royal ornaments) is carried by foot from the Pandalam palace to the “Sanidanam” in Sabarimala. We decided to organize a three-day online marathon bhajan event coinciding with the Thiruvabaranam procession between January 12 at 4 AM IST and January 14 at 6:30 PM IST and culminating with the “Makaravillaku” in Sabarimala. Devotees from across the globe would sing the glory of the Lord, non-stop during this period. The few of us set out to make the way for the Lord’s will.
Our maiden attempt at Akhanda Ayyappa Bhajans in 2022
As the second wave of COVID lingered in late 2021, we began preparing for our maiden event in 2022. To spread the word and solicit participation, we created 30 two-hour slots and started contacting relatives, friends, organizations, temples, and communities around the world. Despite encountering various obstacles, we remained committed to holding the event. Even though each one of us had doubts at various points, we were able to successfully overcome them and make the event happen, thanks to the Lord’s will and grace.
We had 16 groups and 8 individual participants, but not all slots were filled so we had to have some filler slots where one of us either sang or we played some online devotional songs to ensure the continuity that we aimed for. We were able to use Zoom to host the event and capture the audio and video feed of the participants from around the globe and transmit them to viewers around the world on our YouTube channel. We were also fortunate to have one of our acquaintances accompany the Thiruvabarnam procession on foot and send us video and audio feeds whenever possible. We were thus able to play the bhajans on one of the tiles and showcase the procession live on another tile, side by side on Zoom. This was unique and our participants and viewers were thrilled. Though there were several glitches and it was far from perfect, the feedback we received at the end of the event was overwhelmingly positive.
The repeat performance and confirmation in 2023
At that point, we realized that the Lord had chosen us to organize this remarkable event, and we became committed to improving it in 2023. Though 2023 presented a different set of challenges, with our prior experience, support of many of our previous participants and as always, the grace of the Lord, we made it even better than 2022. We had 23 groups, 4 continents, 8 countries, and 22 locations participate in 2023. We had reached out to more groups globally and most importantly we saw the participation of the younger generation. The Bhajan sessions were more vibrant and divine and the eagerness to participate was more. The viewers had nothing but great comments on our Youtube channel for several of the amazing renditions that were delivered. This was a confirmation of the Lord’s will and our collective ability.
Creation of the AkhandaBhajans.com site
We realize that there is no looking back now! We have a great responsibility at hand to ensure that this event continues every year and we find ways to enhance and improvise the experience for our participants and viewers. AkhandaBhajans.com and related social media sites are thus created to facilitate the same.
An Online portal to connect ardent Hindu devotees across the globe and facilitate intense, vibrant online bhajan events, namasankeerthanam, satsang for multiple occasions for Lord Ayyappa and other Hindu Deities.
Starting with the Akhanda Ayyappa Bhajans during Makaravilakku in January and soon to be followed by other similar devotional events during the course of each year.
The goal of AkhandaBhajans.com is to make this portal available to everyone who wants to cherish and devote themselves to the Lord in the way of Bhakthi yoga
- Continue to organize devotional events and bring more groups and individuals to connect and participate.
- Create events for the younger generations to foster bhakti in them and give them a platform to perform.
- Organize several other devotional events related to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Lord Karthikeya, Goddess Durga, and more
- Create a global online directory of groups and individuals devoted to the path of bakthi / yoga, building an online community / forum for collaboration on related matters and to make this world a better place for everyone through unconditional devotion to the Lord!