Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aadi Utsavam in Srirangam

A Thanks Giving Event- Festival to honour Goddess Cauvery for her significant contribution

As can be seen from several of the festivals and events at the Srirangam temple, Lord Namperumal recognizes and respects each and every one who has played a role in the well being of the people. And this gesture of rewarding is almost always done immediately without any delay.

The Aadi (18th day festival) festival is an event to honour the significant role played by Goddess Cauvery in the development of the Srirangam temple and the peaceful and prosperous lives of the people there. It also marks the first procession of Lord Namperumal in the month of Aadi.

The significance of Cauvery can be compared to the Vraja River which flows in Vaikuntam. Just as one who attains moksham has to enter Vaikuntam after a bath at Vraja river, one who wishes to have darshan of Lord Ranganatha has to bathe first in the Cauvery before entering the temple.

Singing Cauvery's Praise

River Cauvery, as praised by Emberumaanar, is even more pious than the sacred Ganges. Parasara Bhattar, the eldest of the two sons of Koorathazhvan, who is said to have lived in the 12th Century AD explains this beautifully in his verse.

‘The water flow at the Cauvery is fast, touching the edges of the banks on both the sides. When one closely looks at the froth, it seems as if Cauvery is laughing.

Parasara Bhattar reasons out this laughter of the Goddess. "Cauvery seems to be laughing at Goddess Ganga and saying ‘All of them seem to be singing praise only of you and your greatness. Yes, the water there flows through from Brahmma’s Kamandalam to the legs of Lord Vishnu and then Shiva keeps the water on his coil (on his head). You are Lord’s Shree Paatha Theertham.’"

Parasara Bhattar says ‘Theertham Sunthathi’ in reference to Cauvery-a river that makes all other rivers pious. Those who bathe here with purity of thought are said to be relieved from all sins.’

Parasara Bhattar goes on to say, ‘The beautiful garlands that one sees every day around Lord Ranganatha are a result of the pure water from the Cauvery. Trees are seen all around the place, flowers bloom every day. All streets and corners are clean and cool, with water from the Cauvery.’

Even more significant is the fact that though there are 10 wells inside the Srirangam temple, the theertham for the Lord and his Thirumanjanam is from the Cauvery, every single day. Is this not a great contribution of the Goddess?

What more, Goddess Cauvery has encircled the Lord from all sides coming round and round him day after day and her presence makes his stay right in the middle of Srirangam a cool and comfortable one keeping him in the right spirits at all times. Thus, Goddess Cauvery is always near Ranganatha.

It is the Goddess who has kept the farmers in the delta region of Tamil Nadu happy and prosperous all these years.

For such a significant contribution made by Goddess Cauvery, Lord Ranganatha wonders as to what he can do to recognize and praise her in public.

Namperumal leaves to meet Goddess Cauvery
With this as the background, Lord Namperumal, the Utsavar deity of Lord Ranganatha, goes in his palanquin on a 6 hour procession to Amma Mandapam on the Southern Banks of the Cauvery to praise Goddess Cauvery and shower gifts on her for keeping every one happy.

It is believed that this is the time when the Cauvery is at its peak with water gushing across from the West and flowing through the green belt of Tamil Nadu down east- Thiruvayaru, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Mayavaram (things may not be as rosy these days as it once used to be!!).

6 hour Procession

The Aadi 18 event of Lord Rangantha (through his processional deity) making it to the Cauvery river banks is an appreciation and recognition of this contribution of Goddess Cauvery and his way of showing gratitude to her for helping the farmers with the right quantity of water for the coming harvest season.

Namperumal reaches Amma mandapam, South of Srirangam, right in the mid afternoon heat,and goes straight on to the Southern banks of Cauvery for Theerthavari. For the next 3 hours, he provides darshan to the devotees at the Mandapam.

2 special events in the evening
The evening of the Aadi 18 Utsavam is marked by two special events.

Showering Gifts on the Goddess
The first event saw Namperumal’s representatives getting on to the temple elephant and showering gifts - Garlands, Thiru Mangalyam, Thaligai, Fruits and Saree- on the Goddess Cauvery in a thanks giving gesture as per the wishes of the Lord.

Later in the evening, on his way back to the temple, Namperumal seeks a 9pm appointment with Andal at the Veli Andal temple, the original Andal temple in Srirangam(before a sannidhi came up later inside the temple) on the Southern end of West Adaivalanjan and standing right opposite Andal exchanges garland with her bringing to end the ‘Aadi 18’ Utsavam.

The Aadi 18 Utsavam this year(2009) took place in Srirangam on Monday August 3.

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