Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vedu Pari Thirumangai Azhvaar

‘Thief’ Thirumangai Azhvaar’s way laying the Lord and trying to steal Namperumal’s jewels is enacted on this 8th day of the Era Pathu Festival

The last of the Azhvaars Thirumangai Azhvaar made a significant contribution, visiting and singing praise of the Lord in 86 Vishnu temples. While all other Azhvaars got things done by showing love and devotion to the Lord, Thirumangai Azhvaar alone was different. He was forceful in his interactions with the Lord and sometimes even threatening. We have seen in several cases where the Lord has come down a step to make Thirumangai sing praise of him.

He had threatened to leave Thiru Indhalur( without singing praise of Parimala Rangan as was the case in Thiru Ninravur( He is also the only Azhvaar seen with a spear in his hand.

Thirumangai initiatied the Prabhandham Festival in Margazhi
While one of Thirumangai Azhvaar’s biggest contribution to the Srirangam temple was his effort in building the huge fort like walls around the prakaarams, it was also Thirumangai who wanted this (Margazhi Festival) to be a Tamil Divya Prabhandham festival as against just the Vedic recital that existed before his time and requested the Lord to make this a Divya Prabhandham Festival. And the Lord is said to have agreed.

A festival for Thirumangai
Nathamuni wanted to create a festival for ThiruMangai Azhvaar for his contribution to the Prabhandham. Thus, started the 10 day Pagal Pathu festival (the opening 10 days of the Prabhandham festival) which precedes the Vaikunta Ekadesi. Lord NamPerumal listens to the 1st 2000 Paasurams at Arjuna Mandapam at the Srirangam temple during the first 10 days.

Thirumangai turns thief
The story goes that Thirumangai fell in love with the beautiful Kumudavalli. In order to attain her, he accepts the conditions laid by her- to feed a 1000 people every day. In this attempt, Thirumangai Mannan loses his wealth, but his love for Kumudavalli remains. To try and fulfil the conditions, he turns a thief and resorts to ‘stealing’.

To bring him back on the right path, Lord comes to meet Thirumangai in a disguised form. Thirumangai, however, remains focussed on attaining his beloved and he way lays the Lord and threatens to remove all his ornaments. Despite all his attempts, Thirumangai fails in his attempt to remove the valuables from the ‘disguised’ Lord.

Angered at his failure and shocked at this strong defence shown, Thirumangai questions if that person is a magician. It is then that the Lord appears along with the Goddess in a Kalyana Kolam and shows his real form to Thirumangai and utters the astaachara mandiram in the ears of Thirumangai.

Thiruvai Mozhi Thirunaal was created for the Lord to listen to the beautiful Tamil composition ‘Prabhandham’. The 8th day of this Era Pathu festival is entirely dedicated to Thirumangai in recognition of his contribution. On this day, even the Paramapada Vaasal is closed.

Vedu Pari Festival
In Srirangam, this day is celebrated as Vedu Pari. Lord Namperumal comes out on a Horse Vaahanam from the Santhana Mandapam. On this day, the people from the ‘Kallar community’, who currently reside on the banks of the Melur Road Theppakulam, come with sticks and weapons to way lay Lord Namperumal and to steal the jewels of the Lord. This drama is enacted on the Eastern Side of the Srirangam temple in front of the Ramar Sannidhi adjacent to the 1000 pillar mandapam between 5pm and 7pm on the 8th day of the Era Pathu Utsavam.

Namperumal’s List of Jewels read out
To confirm that all the jewels of the Lord is intact, the entire list of jewels of Lord NamPerumal is read out. It is a time for the devotees to listen in to the different kinds of jewels worn by the Lord. This is the only day in the year when the list of jewels is read out. We had seen earlier that Lord Namperumal wears 365 different kinds of dresses on the Kaisika Ekadesi day.

Another speciality on this day is the performance of Vaiyali inside the temple. On all other occasions, Vaiyali is seen only outside the temple premises (on street processions).

This year(2009), Vedu Pari Utsavam is to take place today(14th January).

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