Saturday, November 9, 2019

Melkote Raja Mudi Sevai Aipasi

Selva Pillai Sampath Kumar at his resplendent best provides Raja Mudi Sevai on the fourth day of Aipasi Brahmotsavam
The crown was presented to the Lord by Raja Wodeyar, the first king of the Mysore Dynasty

One of the only two occasions in the year when he provides Raja Mudi Sevai
It is a rather quiet afternoon on Thursday (Nov 6) at the Pancha Narayana Kshetram of Melkote, home to Lord Cheluva Narayanaswamy with no indication of the special day and the grand procession that is to feature later in the evening. 

At 4pm, as the temple opened again, 50 odd devotees  enter the temple for a darshan of Cheluva Narayanaswamy blissfully unaware of the Special Sevai that's on offer later in the evening, one of the only two occasions in the year of Utsava Deity Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran providing Raja Mudi Sevai around the streets of the ancient temple town of Thiru Narayanapuram. 

Earlier in the afternoon, the chief priest of the temple left for the District Headquarters at Mandya to secure from the Treasury the Raja Mudi, the King's Crown that was presented to the Lord by Raja Wodeyar, the first king of the Mysore Dynasty. 

Just after 5pm, the Tahsildar arrived with her retinue to inspect and certify the Raja Mudi. With the development in technolgoy, this entire episode of opening the sealed bag and inspecting every ornament in the Raja Mudi is now Video Recorded. Satisfied with the content, the Tahsildar gives a sign off for the procession.  Soon the priests get on to an hour long alankaram of Lord Sampath Kumaran for this special occasion, with the devotees lining up the Sanctum to have a first glimpse of the Lord in this rare attire.

More devotees from across the region started to trickle in at around 6.30 pm to witness the Raja Mudi purapadu.

Committed Adhyapakars, though few in number
The adyapakas, not in great numbers but ones who have committed to spending their lifetime at Melkote to present the sacred verses of the Azhvaars, wait at the Eastern Entrance for the Lord to arrive.  To the beating of the drums and to the accompaniment of the musical instruments, the screen opens just after 7pm to an aarthi as devotees get a first darshan of Selva Pillai Sampath Kumar adorning the grand Raja Mudi (King’s Crown).

Sri Patham, 12 in number, most of whom working in the nearby fields in Melkote arrive to carry the Lord on their shoulder. They are paid a meager amount for carrying the Lord on several processions through each month of the year. 
Prabhandham Recital 
As the Lord reached the Eastern Gopuram, he is welcomed with the Prabhandham Scholars’ recital of Nanmugan Thiruvanthathi. 
நான்முகனை நாராயணன் படைத்தான் 
நான்முகனும்  தான் முகமாய் சங்கரனை தான் படைத்தான் 
யான் முகமாய்  அந்தாதி மேலிட்டு அறிவித்தேன் ஆழ் பொருளை 
சிந்தாமல் கொள்மின் நீர், தேர்ந்து 

These days, the Panguni Utsavam has gained momentum in Melkote when several 1000s congregate for the Vaira Mudi Sevai ( Yet this fourth day of the Aipasi Brahmotsavam has been special for the centuries old Raja Mudi Purapadu. The traditional residents, who have remained in Melkote over the decades, stood in front of their homes to have darshan of the Lord in Raja Mudi attire.

Pits and Hard Stones - Challenging times for the Temple Town
The West Street is full of hard stones with the adyapakars and the Sri Patham having a tough time negotiating the pits. In such remote locations, despite its rich heritage, the powers that be do not pay attention to such difficulties that one has to undergo during the processions. 

There are a few devotees on the North Mada Street who await the arrival of the Lord into their homes. And so do the ones in the East street.

Araiyar Sevai - Padi Etram
Just after 8pm, the Prabhandham Scholars complete the rendering of the sacred verses in the West corner of the temple as the Lord goes around in the prakara.
இனி அறிந்தேன் ஈசற்கும் நான்முகற்கும் தெய்வம்
இனி அறிந்தேன் எம் பெருமாள்  உன்னை இனி அறிந்தேன்
காரணன் நீ கற்றவை நீ கற்பவை நீ

நல் கிரிசை நாரணன் நீ  நன்கு அறிந்தேன் நான்

And shortly after as the Lord makes his way back, Parthasarathy Araiyar, son of the renowned Sri Rama Sarma Araiyar (, dressed in a red cone shaped sacred hat, takes over with his cymbals seeing the Lord through the Padi Etram back into this sanctum. 
In the not so distant past, when the original inhabitants remained at this historical town, Raja Mudi in Aipasi too was a grand celebratory occasion with devotees in several hundreds witnessing the procession of Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran but now the Panguni Utsavam is the one in the year when the crowd swells to unmanageable proportions while the Raja Mudi in Aipasi is restricted to local devotees and those from the neighbouring villages with the Lord coming back into the temple within 45 minutes (The Vaira Mudi procession takes around 7 hours and is immediately followed by the Raja Mudi).

A Selfless Kainkaryapaka - Thirumal
The occasion is enriched by the presence of a Kainkaryapaka, Thirumal, who spends the entire length of the Aipasi Brahmotsavam selflessly serving the Lord through the processions and at other times during the day. He spends the fortnight consuming the Thaligai from the madapalli, bathes in the pushkarani and sleeps in a small room near the temple. Truly, it is the service mindedness of such devotees that help the smooth conduct of these big annual utsavams. Sometimes he dons the role of a Sri Patham, at other times he carries the Theevatti and does so many seemingly small activities in the whole process of an Utsavam but without each of which, the conduct would face hurdles. By the end of the utsavam he would have moved on to another Divya Desam in Tamil Nadu to perform similar service there.

Despite the lack of a large crowd, it was a devotional delight to watch the Lord at his resplendent best in the Raja Mudi.  The few that remained to witness seemed a happy lot.

The Raja Mudi will make its way on Nov 13 to the Treasury in Mandya till the Panguni Utsavam.


tucker said...

Well written. Sincere Thanks.
Is there any way to know important Days at Melkote in advance to plan visits.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice report. Yes, there are still some devoted kaikarysparars whose service has to be highlighted. I have gone once for Vairamudi. After reading this, I wish to go for Rajamudi.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Wish such events are informed in advance we can plan our trip.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for highlighting this great Uthsavam. Hopefully from next time more devotees will attend thanks to your brilliant article ��������