Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vaira Mudi Utsavam Melkote

The entire temple town of Thiru Narayanapuram (Melkote) wore a festive look last Sunday (April 1) on the occasion of its biggest festival of the year with tens of thousands of devotees from across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh thronging the otherwise quiet and sleepy town.

Located in the Mandya district, 35kms North of Srirangapatna on the banks of the Cauvery at the foot of the Yadava Giri, Thiru Narayana Perumal temple in Melkote dates back to the Kretha Yuga and is referred to as Dakshina Badri, a reference to which is found in 12 chapters under the topic Yadava Giri Mahatmiya in the Narada Purana. Thiru Narayanapuram is one of the four famous Swayambu Kshetrams, the other three being Srirangam, Kanchipuram and Tirupathi.

Utsava deity makes his way to Thiru Narayanapuram
Lord Rama, who had given his Aradhana pooja idol, Ranganatha, to the newly crowned Lankan King Vibheeshana, was left without an idol for his daily poojas. Brahmma is said to have provided the idol of Selva Pillai to Rama who later passed this on to his sons Luva and Kusha. When Kusha’s daughter married a Yadava prince, this idol was given as part of the gifts to be given by the Bride and thus this idol landed up in the lunar dynasty from the solar dynasty.

The story goes that Vaira Mudi (the diamond crown) belonging to Lord Paramapatha Nathan in Vaikuntam was stolen by Prahalada’s son Virochana. Giving Virochana a chase, Lord Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda managed to recover the Vaira Mudi and handed over the Vaira Mudi to Krishna on his way back.

When Balarama came to this place on a religious trip, he found the moolavar deity resembling the idol of Cheluvaraya (another name for Selva Pillai) at his home, back in Dwaraka. Krishna and Balarama came back to this place with the idol and they decided that this was the ideal Utsava deity for Thiru Narayanan and placed it here. The Utsava deity having been Rama’s pooja idol came to be called ‘Rama Priyan’.

Grand Celebrations

On Sunday morning, ahead of the Vaira Mudi Utsavam, the Utsava deity Selva Pillai went on a procession around the temple complex providing darshan to the early visitors.

On Sunday evening, the event of Garuda presenting Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran with the Vaira Mudi was enacted at the Thiru Narayana Perumal temple. 63year old Narasaraja Bhattar had the honour of collecting the crown from Garuda and placing it on Lord Selva Pillai.

Earlier in the day, the diamond crown had been brought all the way from the Mandya Treasury (30kms from here)- via Srirangapatna and Pandavapura- where it is kept under safe custody through the year.

7hour Vaira Mudi Procession

Devotees had occupied every inch of space on each of the four Big Mada streets with several hundreds of them perched atop the buildings. The temple complex was grandly decorated with special illuminated lamps brightening the entire temple town.

Just after 830pm, Lord Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran, adorned with a glittering Vaira Mudi and led in the front by the loud recital of Naanmugan Thiruvanthathi, the fourth set of verses of Iyarpa (Naanmuganai Naarayanan Padaiththaan Naan Muganum….) praising Lord Narayana as the Ultimate Lord, made his way out of the temple complex to display his special and grand Thiru Kolam seated atop the small Garuda Vahana and with his legs placed on the shoulders of Garuda.

Over the next 7 1/2 hours, Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran displayed his majestic diamond crown in a procession around the four Mada Streets before heading back to the Vahana Mandapa opposite the Temple complex at 4am.

Raja Mudi Seva

Immediately after, it was time for Selva Pillai to change to another form – the Raja Mudi Thiru Kolam. This crown was presented to him by Raja Wodeyar, the first king of the Mysore Dynasty. Adoring the grand Raja Mudi (King’s Crown), Selva Pillai displayed his 2nd special Thiru Kolam on this fourth day celebrations of the Brahmotsvam as he went around the prakara inside the temple at 4.30am.

Araiyar Sevai
One of the other highlights at this temple is the continued performance of the Araiyar Sevai, an artistic song and dance enactment of the Naalayira Divya Prabandham. This is one of the four Vishnu temples in India where Araiyar Sevai is still performed, the others being Srirangam, Srivilliputhur and Azhvaar Thirunagari. At 530am on Monday morning, the Araiyar presented sacred verses on Selva Pillai as he led the Lord back into the Sanctum bringing to end the Vaira Mudi Utsavam.

Honouring the Archakas
For their special service to the Lord, the Archakas of the temple were presented with the honour of wearing the Lord’s Parivattam and his sacred garland.

For full historical story on Melkote Thiru Narayana Perumal, please read:

(a part of this story featured in The Hindu Friday Review on April 6)

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