Saturday, May 30, 2015

Azhagar Chitrai Festival 2015

Liberating Manduka Rishi from his Curse
Sesha Vahana, Garuda Vahana and Dasavathara display all on a single day
Lord Kallazhagar getting into the Vaigai on the full moon day in Chitrai is a well known event. However as per the Vaishnavite legend, the purpose of his long trip to Madurai from his abode in Thiru Maliruncholai Hills on the outskirts of the city is to liberate Manduka Maha Rishi from his curse.

This historical episode is enacted every year on the day following Azhagar’s entry into the Vaigai. It is also a day when Lord Kallazhagar provides darshan in different forms at three different venues around Madurai.

This year with the full moon day starting a little late in the morning, Azhagar made his entry early the next morning (Full Moon Day was on Sunday 3rd May and Azhagar entered the Vaigai on Monday morning).

Sesha Vahana at Vandiyur
After his entry into the Vaigai on his Golden Horse Vahana, Lord Kallazhagar made a day long trip along the river banks to reach Veera Raghava Perumal temple in Vandiyur around mid night.

The next morning he woke up early to provide a ‘Vaira Mudi’ Seva inside the Veera Raghava Perumal temple at 5am. For the next two hours, Sundara Narayana Bhattar and Sundararaja Bhattar of Azhagar Koil decked up the Lord in a beautiful blue and green dhoti. 
Sporting a big smile, Kallazhagar mounted the Sesha Vahana at 930am and for the next 2 1/2hours made his way through the streets of Vandiyur providing darshan to thousands of devotees to reach Thenoor Mandapa by noon.

Purana Recital

At the Thenoor Mandapa, Rangarajan, the hereditary descendent of the Andal Thozhappa Service recited the legend relating to Azhagar’s Chitrai trip to Madurai from Thiru Maliruncholai.
The story goes that Subadavasu Rishi who was performing penance at the Nupur Ganga in Thiru Maliruncholai hills incurred the wrath of Sage Durvasa having ignored his presence there. In a moment of rage Durvasa cursed him to turn to a frog.

Regaining his composure, Durvasa directed the rishi to invoke the blessings of Lord Kallazhagar of Thiru Maliruncholai. Answering his prayers, Kallazhagar came in a Garuda Vahana to the Vegavathi (Vaigai) river and liberated ‘Manduka Maha Rishi’ (the rishi who had turned into a frog) from his curse.

This historical episode was enacted at the Thenoor Mandapa in the Vaigai River in front of several thousands of devotees who had thronged in from nearby villages. Belief is that those who visit the Chitrai Festival and seek Azhagar’s blessings get confidence to succeed in the year ahead.

Atop his Garuda Vahana, Kallazhagar provided darshan to the rishi (the idol of the rishi was placed in front of the Thenoor Mandapa) with the lighting of fire crackers and the flying away of a bird into the open skies signifying the liberation of the rishi from his curse.
For the next 7 ½ hours, Kallazhagar provided darshan on his Garuda Vahana through the streets of Madurai to reach his next destination - the Rama Raya Mandapa at 10pm.

Dasavathara Display
After he was liberated from his curse, Manduka Maha Rishi requested Lord Kallazhagar to present his Dasavathara darshan. Acceding to the rishi’s request, Kallazhagar provides a once in a year darshan of his Dasavathara through the night at the Rama Raya Mandapa every Chitrai as part of the Azhagar Festival. The priests were very meticulous taking care to find the right attire for each of his Avataras beginning with the Matsya Avatara at midnight.
Vamana Avatara was particularly a tough one but the priests delighted the late night devotees who stayed awake with Kallazhagar sporting a beautiful green dhoti and providing darshan at 245am.

Suprabatham was being played around when Kallazhagar displayed the Rama Avatara just after the clock had ticked past 4am. The Lord looked a handsome prince in a bright green dhoti with the left hand holding a bow and the right hand ready to strike with an arrow. Following this was the Krishna Avatar where Lord Kallazhagar was seen with a flute in hand and with his legs crossed.

Mohini Thiru Kolam
On Wednesday morning, Kallazhagar provided darshan to the devotees in the Mohini Thiru Kolam before making his way back to Thiru Maliruncholai, thus bringing to end another year of the Chitrai Festival.

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