Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Erettai Tirupathi Maasi Anusham Festival

Nam Azhvaar’s annual trip to Tholai Villi Mangalam to invoke the blessings of his parents on his return journey from Srirangam  is said to mark the culmination of the Adyayana Utsavam here

Recital of the 10th Canto of Tiruvoimozhi, Thirumanjanam, Araiyar Sevai, a stop over at Appan Koil and sacred food from Azhvaar Tirunagari feature on this festive occasion at Tholai Villi Mangalam 
The legendary episode of Nam Azhvaar making his way to Erettai Tirupathi after witnessing the Adyayana Utsavam in Srirangam to meet his parents was played out with great devotional fervor on Maasi Anusham on the Northern banks of Tamarai Barani. Nam Azhvaar, in his Tiruvoimozhi verses had praised the twin temples of Erettai Tirupathi referring to this place Tholai Villi Mangalam (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2010/09/erettai-tirupathi.html)

Legend has it that Thiru Mangai Azhvaar came to Azhvaar Tirunagari to invite Nam Azhvaar to witness the Adyayana Utsavam in Srirangam in Margazhi, one that had been created and organized by the former in recognition of the contribution of the latter.

Having enjoyed the presentation of the four thousand sacred verses by the revered Araiyars at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Nam Azhvaar is believed to have reached Tholai Villi Mangalam on the Anusham day in Maasi to invoke the blessings of his parents. As described in Tiruvoimozhi (6.5.10), Nam Azhvaar saw Lord Devapiran of Erettai Tirupathi at Tholai Villi Mangalam as his mother and father.

 சிந்தையாலும் சொல்லாலும் செய்கையினாலும் 
தேவ பிரானையே 
தந்தை தாய் என் று அடைந்த 
வன் குருகூர் அவர் சடகோபன் சொல் 

முந்தை ஆயிரத்துள் இவை 
தொலை வில்லி மங்கலத்தை சொன்ன
செந்தமிழ் பத்தும் வல்லார் 
அடிமை செய்வார் திருமாலுக்கே 

Hence, before returning to his abode at Azhvaar Tirunagari, Nam Azhvaar insisted that they take a detour to Tholai Villi Mangalam so he could pay his respects to his parents.

This legendary episode was played out on Sunday in front of a large devotee crowd at the twin temples of Tholai Villi Mangalam.

Till the 1990s, when there was a transformation of the twin temples, this annual trip of Nam Azhvaar to Tholai Villi Mangalam was the only festival celebrated at Erettai Tirupathi.

While he does not make a trip anymore to Srirangam, the event relating to Nam Azhvaar's day out at Erettai Tirupathi continues to be an important day in the festival calendar at Nava Tirupathi.

On Sunday morning, Nam Azhvaar started out from Azhvaar Tirunagari at 630am after an early wake-up call at 430am for a special alankaram. Carried on the shoulders in the traditional way by the Sri Patham Thangis of Azhvaar Tirunagari, Nam Azhvaar made his way through the Tamaraibarani to reach the historical Appan Koil, about 2kms West of Erettai Tirupathi, at 730 am.

Appan Koil- a special idol of Thiruvengata Mudayan
Thiruvenkata Mudayan of Appan Koil was the aradhana idol of Nam Azhvaar’s father. Hence on his way to Erettai Tirupathi, Nam Azhvaar made a halt at this temple evoking memories of his father's sincere devotion rendered to the Lord at this temple.

In an appreciative gesture of Sri Patham Thangis devotional service to carry Nam Azhvaar on a palanquin from his home town of Azhvaar Tirunagari to Erettai Tirupathi on their shoulders (in many Divya Desams across Tamil Nadu, Lord is now carried on processions on wheeled tyres even on occasions such as Brahmotsavam given the shortage of traditional Sri Patham Thangis!!!), Araiyar Nathan of Azhvaar Tirunagari presented a grand Thaligai to all those present that morning at Appan Koil.

Interestingly over the last few years, Araiyar Nathan has also come forward to perform the daily aradhana of the Lord at Appan Koil.

Aravinda Losanar welcomes Nam Azhvaar
After the stopover at Appan Koil, Nam Azhvaar reached Aravinda Losana Temple, one of the twin temples at Thulaivilli Mangalam. The utsava deity of Aravinda Losana welcomed Nam Azhvaar and presented him with his garland and parivattam much to the delight of the hundreds of devotees who had gathered at Erettai Tirupathi on Sunday morning. 
The 10th Canto of Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi that also included praise of Thiru Maliruncholai and Thiruper Nagar was presented with great devotion by the large Ghosti that had arrived from Azhvaar Tirunagari.

The Araiyars of Azhvaar Tirunagari are entrusted with the exclusive rights to present 10 of those verses. Araiyar Nathan, with the sacred red cone like cap on his head, the two cymbals in his hand and a special garland across his body, presented the final ten verses of Tiruvoimozhi.

Soon after, Nam Azhvaar turned South towards the banks of Tamarai Barani to have darshan of Lord Devapiran, a few hundred yards from Aravinda Losana temple. The presentation of theertham brought to end the proceedings for the morning by 930am much earlier than usual. 

While a large number of devotees who had come from outside locations made their way to the rest of the Nava Tirupathi temples, Nam Azhvaar took a well earned rest for a few hours at the Devapiran temple.

A one hour Thirumanjanam
By 2.30pm, the devotees were back at Erettai Tirupathi to witness the hour long sacred bath presented to Nam Azhvaar. The Araiyar presented the sacred sandal wood paste and the oil to all the devotees who witnessed the Thirumanjanam. 

Thaligai brought by walk from Aathi Nathan temple
An interesting feature of the evening event was the presentation of Thaligai from Aathi Nathan temple in Azhvaar Tirunagari. To this day, the traditions have been upheld and the sacred food is carried on the head to the beating of the drum as the team walks all the way from Aathi Nathan temple in Thiru Kurugur (6 kms away) across the Tamarai Barani to the Devapiran temple. While easier options like bringing the food by modern means of transport are possible, it is great credit to the team at Aathi Nathan temple that short cut options to quicken the conduct of the evening utsavam have not been exercised to-date.  

Conclusion of Adyayana Utsavam in Erettai Tirupathi
Following the presentation of the Thaligai, the ghosti team of around 50 members presented 90 verses of  the 10th Canto of Tiruvoimozhi starting with the praise of the Lords of Thiru Mogur and Thiru Ananthapuram while Araiyar Nathan presented 10 verses.

The series of events on Maasi Anusham also signifies the conclusion of the Adyayana Utsavam in Erettai Tirupathi. 

Devapiran watches the son return to Azhvaar Tirunagari
12 hours after he began his trip from the Southern banks of Tamaraibarani, it was now time for Nam Azhvaar to bid good bye to Devapiran for yet another year. Like a dutiful parent, Devapiran stood patiently at the junction of Erettai Tirupathi watching his son wade way through the dark into the far western corner of Erettai Tirupathi on his way back to Azhvaar Tirunagari.

Late on Sunday evening, Lord Devapiran returned to his sanctum amidst the chanting of Ramanuja Nootranthathi.

Celebrating the Founding Day of Nam Azhvaar's Utsava Idol!!!

A day earlier, on Maasi Visakam, Nam Azhvaar had another reason to celebrate for it was the day when Madurakavi Azhvaar found the idol on the banks of Tamarai Barani.  Nam Azhvaar made a trip to the Tamarai Barani on Saturday morning for the Theerthavari utsavam in memory of the founding day of his idol.

Erettai Tirupathi is on the Northern banks of Tamaraibarani and is one of the Nava Tirupathi Divya Desams about 30 kms from Tirunelveli (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/07/108-divya-desam-nava-tirupathi.html)


Anonymous said...

The Lord's Grace is amazing. Otherwise these traditions could not continue unbroken for so many centuries. And that too when most agraharams do not have sufficient people to carry God on their shoulders or thaligai on their heads.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you we get to see festivals / occasions like this !! Fantastic narration Prabhu, thank you so much...