SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Vasanthotsavam

Vasanthotsavam is an annual Seva celebrated in Tirumala to celebrate the arrival of spring season. Vasantotsavam is the combination of 2 words - "Vasantha" and "Utsavam"; the festival is celebrated on the three days of tryodasi and pournami in the month of Chaitra In the Gregorian calendar, the festival occurs between the end of March through mid-April. The start of the festival celebration in Tirumala is recorded during the period of Achyutaraya; the festival was started with the fund of 3000 narpanam contributed by Periya Solai, the son of the accountant in the temple. The festival starts with ankurarpanam ceremony conducted on the day of Uttarabhadra star in Hindu calendar month of phalguna. One day before the start of the Vasanthotsavam festival, punya vachanam, vaasthu santhi and samprokshanam rituals are performed by the temple priests. Access to these rituals are not open to public. Abhishekam - called Snapana Thirumanjanam, is performed to the utsava murthy and his consorts on all the three days in the Vasanthotsavam hall outside the temple premises.

On the third day, abhishekam is performed to the idols of Rama, Sita and Hanuman along with Krishna and Rukmini. Procession of the consecrated idols are taken in a procession in the evening on all the three days; the Vasanthotsavam hall was demolished as part of the revamping of the temple surroundings in 2006 and since the Vaibhavotsava Mandapam situated in front of the main temple is used for the festival. Pictures from Tirumala Vasanthotsavam festival Vasonthotsavam is a arjitha seva - paid service where pilgrims pay to view the ceremony; each ticket allows 1 person. Apart from entry to the abhishekam hall, the ticket holder receives one silk angavastram for men, a blouse piece for the women, 2 dosas, 1 vadas and temple annaprasadams

742nd Missile Squadron

The 742d Missile Squadron is a United States Air Force unit stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The squadron is equipped with the LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, with a mission of nuclear deterrence; the squadron was first activated as the 742d Bombardment Squadron in June 1943. After training in the United States with the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers, the 742d deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, participating in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, it earned two Distinguished Unit Citations for its combat operations. Following V-E Day, it remained in Italy without its flight echelon until inactivating in September 1945 The squadron was activated in the reserve in 1947, but was not manned or equipped before inactivating in June 1949 and transferring its resources to another unit, it was redesignated the 742d Fighter-Day Squadron and activated, but did not become operational before inactivating in July 1957. In November 1962 it was organized as the 742d Strategic Missile Squadron, an LGM-30B Minuteman I squadron.

In 1971 it upgraded to the Minuteman III, is a part of the 91st Operations Group. The 742d Missile Squadron controls and maintains 50 launch facilities and 5 missile alert facilities; the squadron is divided into missile operations flights, which are responsible for day-to-day operations and security, an operations support flight, responsible for ensuring the readiness of the missile alert facilities. The squadron was first activated at Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico on 1 June 1943 as the 742d Bombardment Squadron, one of the four squadrons of the 455th Bombardment Group; the initial cadre for the squadron was drawn from the 302d Bombardment Group. In July, a group cadre was given advanced tactical training by the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics at Orlando Army Air Base and Pinecastle Army Air Field, Florida. After organizing at Alamogordo, the squadron moved to Utah, where the ground echelon was stationed at Kearns Army Air Base, although flying operations were based at Salt Lake City Army Air Base.

After completing training at Langley Field, the squadron departed the United States for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in December 1943. The air echelon began staging through Mitchel Field, New York to ferry their Liberators via the southern ferry route; the ground echelon sailed on the SS William T. Barry; the air echelon of the squadron was delayed in Tunisia and was not lodged at the squadron's combat station of San Giovanni Airfield, Italy until 1 February 1944, the squadron flew its first mission that month. The squadron was engaged in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, attacking targets like airfields, oil refineries, marshalling yards in Italy, Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia. On 2 April 1944, the squadron attacked a ball bearing plant at Steyr, Austria for which it earned a Distinguished Unit Citation; the primary target, the Daimler-Pusch aircraft engine factory was obscured by clouds, so the unit attacked the nearby ball bearing plant although attacks by an estimated 75 twin engine fighters continued through the bomb run and heavy, accurate flak was encountered.

The squadron claimed the destruction of six enemy aircraft. Five crewmembers from one of the B-24s lost in the attack bailed out in territory controlled by Yugoslav Partisans and were able to evade German forces and returned to the squadron a month after the attack. On 26 June 1944, the squadron encountered fighter opposition, described as the strongest Fifteenth Air Force had encountered to date, which destroyed several Liberators of the 455th Group, leading the 304th Bombardment Wing on the raid. On this mission, the squadron suffered its heaviest losses of the war, with six planes lost to enemy action. Only one of the squadron's Liberators that reached the target returned safely; the squadron pressed its attack on an oil refinery at Moosbierbaum, for which it received a second DUC. The squadron provided air support to ground forces in Operation Shingle, the landings at Anzio and the Battle of Monte Cassino in the spring of 1944, it knocked out coastal defenses to clear the way for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in September.

As Axis forces were withdrawing from the Balkan peninsula in the fall of 1944, the squadron bombed marshalling yards, troop concentrations and airfields to slow their retreat. It flew air interdiction missions to support Operation Grapeshot, the Spring 1945 offensive in Northern Italy; the squadron flew its last combat mission on 25 April 1945 against rail yards at Austria. Following the surrender of German forces in Italy, it flew some supply missions and transported personnel to ports and airfields for shipment back to the United States. Most of the air echelon returned to the United States. Many of the squadron's remaining personnel were transferred to other units in the 304th Bombardment Wing for shipment back to the United States, while the squadron remained in Italy, serving as a replacement depot; the last of the air echelon departed Italy in July and the squadron was inactivated on 9 September 1945. The squadron was reactivated as a reserve unit under Air Defense Command at Hensley Field, Texas in June 1947, where its training was supervised by ADC's 4122d AAF Base Unit.

It was nominally a heavy bomber unit, but the squadron does not appear to have been manned or equipped while a reserve unit. In 1948 Continental Air Command assumed responsibility for managing reserve and Air National Guard units from ADC