Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oonjal Utsavam in Srirangam

500 year old Swing Festival was celebrated at the Ranganatha Temple in Srirangam last week with Vaadhyam, Prabhandham and Saamaram
Lord Namperumal witnessed the display of measurement of Paddy at the Thiru Kottaram
மாணிக்கம் கட்டி வைரம் இடை கட்டி
ஆணிப் பொன்னால் செய்த வண்ணச் சிறுத் தொட்டில் ….
வைரம் அளந்தானே தாலேலோ - Peri Azhvaar

With this verse of PeriAzhvaar referring to the Lord's cradle, Araiyars Sampath Kumaran and Ramanujacharya welcomed Namperumal with the Ubaya Nachiyars at the Oonjal Mandapa on the 7th day of the Oonjal Utsavam that took place on  8November at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.

Perumal Thirumozhi Thaalattu Verses
When the Araiyars followed this with another set of beautiful Thaalaatu verses - Kulasekara Azhwar’s ‘மண்ணு புகழ் கௌசலைதன் ’ one could almost visualise Namperumal reacting with joy to the presentation of these Perumal Thirumozhi verses. This showcased as to how much Lord Ranganatha enjoyed playing on the swing and how relaxed he now was. This presentation was also relevant, for the Oonjal Mandapa is located in the Kulasekara Thiruchutru (Prakara) – one contributed by Kulasekara Azhwar.

The two Araiyars completed their presentation for the evening with Thirumangai Azhwar’s Saranagathi Periya Thirumozhi Prabhandham – 
ஏழை எதலன் கீழ்மகன் என்னாது ….
அணி பொழில் திருவரங்கத்து அம்மானே
The Nine Day Oonjal Utsavam at the Ranganathaswamy temple dates back to the late 15th Century AD.

 Nel Alavu Display
The 7th day of the Dolotsavam is particularly special in that it is on this evening that Namperumal used to personally inspect the granary and witness the measurement of paddy that have accrued to him through gifts from Kings as well as from his devotees. The quantity of paddy also symbolises the prosperity or otherwise of the kingdom.

Namperumal, with his Ubaya Nachiyars started on the procession at 6pm to reach Thiru Kottaram, West of the Garuda Sannidhi. Here, the ‘Nel Alavu’ display event was enacted with representatives of Namperumal measuring and displaying to the Lord 25kgs of Paddy following which the representatives shouted out the next measurement as 250kgs and 2500kgs of Paddy thus informing Lord Namperumal that all was well in the region and that devotees were taking good care of him by gifting in plenty.

After the joy of finding out that his devotees were showering their wealth on him, Namperumal made his way to the Northern Entrance of the temple to meet with and have darshan of Ranganayaki Thaayar, who presented the Lord with Thiruvanthikaapu as a measure of protecting the Lord from Drishti.

By 7pm, Lord Namperumal had made it to the Oonjal Mandapam via the Manal Veli (Eastern Side) and the Arya Bhattal Gate.

For the next three hours, thousands of devotees watched the swinging Lord Namperumal along with the Ubaya Nachiyars on the Oonjal enjoy the presentation of joyful verses of Peri Azhwar and Kulasekara Azhwar.

 Vaadhyam, Prabhandham and Saamaram
During the Swing Festival, Lord Ranganatha is showered with unending care by his devotees with Vadhyam (instruments), Arayar Prabhandham and the Saamaram (fanning of the Lord) while he himself enjoyed these pleasures sitting through the evening on the Oonjal which swayed up and down with delicate push from the Lord’s representatives. During this period, the Lord is said to be relieved from all mental tensions and worries and is believed to be in a complete mood of enjoyment.

Oonjal Utsavam removes Dosham in the Swing
Belief is that when the Lord is in such joyous mood, he does not hold himself back and showers his special blessings fulfilling the prayers of devotees who come here to have darshan of him.  Age old belief is that his presence at the Oonjal Mandapa is said to remove any dosham in the Swing.

On the 9th and final day last Saturday (Nov10), Namperumal made his way to the sacred Chandra Pushkarani for the Theerthavari Utsavam, following which a Thirumanjana was performed on the Lord at the Oonjal Mandapa. That evening Namperumal returned to his sanctum bringing to end for another year the annual Aipasi Dolotsavam.

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