The presiding deity of Lord Srinivasa, festival deities and other deities are exquisitely decorated with floral and tulasi garlands during this seva. ‘Thomala’ denotes the decoration of the deities with garlands.
The grihasthas who have paid the requisite amount can have darsan of the Lord during Thomala seva. However, the priests decorate the main deity of Lord Venkateswara with flowers brought by Ekangi or flowe specially brought from Flower room by Jeeyangar. The seva is performed for 30 minutes. This seva in conducted as arjita seva on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is held in ekantams during the rest of the week.
Thomala is an abbreviated form of the Tamil word, தொடுத்த மாலை, meaning garlands which are worn. The Thomala Seva is conducted in the Tirumala temple after Vishwarupa Darshanam. It is Arjitham, i.e., can be attended on the payment of certain amount, on all days except Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On these days, it is conducted in Ekantham.
The Seva begins immediately after the Vishwaroopa Darshanam. The Sanctum is swept with a broom and dried flowers are removed from the idols. The priest performing the Seva hands out a golden pot to a Paricharaka, or servant. The servant goes to Akasha Ganga Thirtham, 3 miles from the temple and gathers water. The Paricharaka returns with the water pot in a procession, on an elephant.Two Ekangins, the representatives of Jeeyar Swami carry the floral garlands from Yamunothurai, a room in the second enclosure of the temple (Sampangi Pradakshinam), where the garlands are prepared, in a procession around the Dwajasthambam and the Balipeetham, accompanied by Nagari, Jheghanta and Firebrands. They carry the garlands in two bamboo baskets, called Thomala Butta, on their heads.A third priest carries a smaller basket of tulsi leaves. Meanwhile, in the sanctum, the priest would have received the Akasha Ganga water and arranged Bhoga Srinivasa and the gold cover of the feet of the Mulavar for Thirumanjanam, or bathing ritual. Upon receiving the garlands, Abhishekam is performed with holy water, milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, turmeric and sandalwood pulp. Purusha Sukta is chanted. After this Bhoga Srinivasa is replaced to His position at the left foot of the Mulavar. The holy feet of Sri Venkateswara is treated with civet oil, and a new silk cloth laid upon it, tulsi leaves are placed and covered with the gold cover.
Then 28 stanzas of Sri Aandaal’s Tiruppavai ( 30 Tamil hymns scripted by the incarnation of mother earth (Sri Bhoomi Devi – one of the divine consorts of Lord Sriman Narayana) by name Sri Andal of Srivilliputtur who married The Lord Sri Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam) are recited as the Lord is decorated with the garlands. Other deities in the sanctum, also receive garlands.
This Seva is performed in Ekantham (private, with only priests and TTD officials) during the months of May through July and again in the month of “Margazhi” (Margasira in Telugu) which roughly falls anytime between the English months of mid December through mid January. Devotees are allowed to sit all along the corridor leading to the Sanctum sanctorum at Tirumala, from the second doorstep, extending into the foyer area where the imposing idol of Sri Garudalwar (Lord Vishnu’s mount) kneels in obeisance to His Lord.
The enchanting Seva lasts for about 45 minutes, giving the devotees to feast their eyes on the Lord.