Garuda Vahana seva which is performed on fifth day of Brahmotsavam in Tirumala Tirupati Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is an important event of entire Brahmotsavam. In 2017 Navaratri Brahmotsavam, Garuda Vahana seva is performed on September 27.
Lord Malayappa Swamy (the Utsava Vigraha of Lord Balaji) goes around Mada streets riding Garuda, the eagle god. Lakhs of devotees attend the festival on this day.
On this day Lord Malayappa Swamy is adorned with many special ornaments such as Makara Kanti, the Sahasra Nama Mala, the Chathurbhuja Lakshmi Haaram etc. These ornaments are always on Moola Murthi’s image in the garbhalaya and only on this day they are brought out of the temple especially for this seva.
Another unique aspect of Garudotsavam is umbrella festival. Two very big umbrellas are specially made ecstatically and brought from Chennai. Many devotees accompany these umbrellas on foot from Chennai singing bhajans accompanied by nadaswaram band.
After reaching Tirumala the ‘godugulu’ (umbrella) are received by temple officials and offered to Lord Srinivasa with Vedic chantings by temple priests. Tirumala hills are sea of humanity on the day of Garudotsavam.