Saturday, September 16, 2017

Srirangam Krishna Jayanthi

A Two Day Utsavam to celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday marked by a joint street procession of Namperumal and the ‘Birthday boy’
Favourite Delicacies of Child Krishna presented to him

Unprecedented Devotee Crowd at Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam - The Temple set to rake in over Rs. 1 crore (from Rs. 250 ticket alone) as part of the Cauvery Pushkaram event
Over four decades ago, devotees who visited the Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam were ones who sought Moksham.  As Kulasekara Azhvaar said in his Perumal Thirumozhi praise of the Lord of Srirangam(, this was the place where one had to finally come to surrender after letting go of all the desires of life. He himself had let go his kingdom before coming to Srirangam.
தேட்டருந்திறல் தேனினைத் தென்னரங்கனை
திருமாதுவாழ் வாட்டமில் வனமாலை மார்வனை
வாழ்த்தி மால்கொள் சிந்தையராய்

ஆட்ட மேவியலந்தழைத்து
அயர் வெய்தும் மெய்யடியார்கள்
தம் ஈட்டம் கண்டிடக் கூடுமேல் 
அது காணும் பயனாவதே
In line with that praise, those that made it to Srirangam, till the 2nd half of the previous century, were those that sought Total Surrender with the Lord.  Hence those with still desirous interests left in life did not make it too often here!!!

In fact till the 1970s and 80s, it was the Mariamman temple in Samayapuram where devotees thronged and the Srirangam temple’s expenses were funded from the collections at the Samayapuram temple, a then sub-temple of the Ranganathaswamy Temple.

Except for a period in the year (Thula Month) when devotees from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka made their way to the temple, the Ranganathaswamy temple was mostly ‘unvisited’ with the local residents constituting over 90% of the devotee crowd through a large part of the year. Unlike the current scenario, one could stand in front of the Moolavar Lord for a long period of time each day and many times a day!!!

What a drastic change it has been this week from those decades gone by in the previous century as the temple saw unprecedented never before seen crowds.

Krishna Jayanthi Celebration
Typically, the two day celebration on the occasion of Krishna Jayanthi attracts only local residents numbering a 100 or so and that’s been the trend over the last several decades. But this year the Utsavam coincided with the Cauvery Pushkaram event and the locals were in for a shock. Just after 5 am on Wednesday morning, over 10000 devotees from the across the country had gathered before the Arya Bhattal Vaasal for a darshan of Moolavar Lord Ranganatha.

Periyazhvaar’s verses on Child Krishna
To mark the occasion of Krishna Jayanthi, the Araiyars of Srirangam presented the favourite ‘Pillai Tamizh’ verses of Periyazhvaar on Krishna at the Pandaram Mandapam. 
Through the verses on Child Krishna, Periyazhvaar in a beautiful poetic expression of the growth of a new born lures every mother to sing for her child. Through these verses, Periyazhvar helps a devotee visualize and enjoy the infant to boyhood stages of Krishna portraying the joyful pleasures of a doting mother with a clever and mischievous child.

வெண்ணெய் அலைந்த குணுங்கும்
விளையாடு புழுதியும் கொண்டு
 .....எண்ணெய் புலிப் பழம் கொண்டு
எத்தனை போதும் இருந்தேன்

The Araiyars also presented the ‘Sacred Oil’ to the Ghosti at the Thirumanjanam.

காயய்சின நீரோடு நெல்லி கடாரத்தில் பூரித்து வைத்தேன்…………………………..
மஞ்சளும் செங்கழுநீரின் வாசிகையும்
நாறு சாந்தும் அஞ்சனமும் கொண்டு வைத்தேன்

Favourite delicacies of Child Krishna
Later in the evening, the favourite delicacies that Krishna used to grab during his childhood pranks were prepared and presented (அப்பம் கலந்த சிற்றுண்டி அக்காரம் பாலிற் கலந்து) referred to as ‘Sangupaal’.

Historical Inscriptions on the Krishna Jayanthi dishes
Historically, these favourite dishes were presented to Lord Krishna at his Sannidhi on the occasion of his birthday, as seen from the inscriptions at this temple dating back a 800 years.

கன்றுகள் ஓடச் செவியில்
கட்டெறும்பு பிடித்து இட்டால்
தென்றிக் கெடும் ஆகில்
வெண்ணெய்  திரட்டி விழங்குமா காண்பன்

Krishna’s Oil Presentation
On Thursday morning, Lord Krishna was scheduled to leave his abode inside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal for his morning procession just after 7am but with the ‘Cauvery Pushkaram’ crowd waiting at the gate in several thousands, it was decided that the Moolavar darshan could not be held up till 730am!!! 
And thus, he began the procession around the four Chitrai streets an hour early catching even the local residents off-guard and by surprise.

A highlight of the hour long procession was the presentation of the ‘Sacred Oil’ that the devotees applied on their head and ‘Mochai Sundal’.

A Joint once in a year Procession
For the only time in the year, Lord Namperumal made his way on a joint procession with Krishna later in the day to the Yadava ‘Uriyadi’ Mandapam on the banks of the Cauvery.

In centuries gone by, at the South Chitrai Street, the descendents of the Yadava clan would climb the tree in the way a young child Krishna would climb trees to pick up his favourite eats. However this has been done away with in recent decades. 
Now as part of the Uriyadi Utsavam, the favourite eats of Krishna are loaded on to pots and placed atop the temporary Panthal. Just after 9pm, watched by a huge crowd at the South Chitra Street Junction, the Yadavas knocked out the pots one by one reminding the devotees of Krishna’s childhood days when he would go out every day and come back with butter spilled all over his body.
எண்ணெய் குடத்தை உருட்டி
இளம்பிள்ளை கில்லி எழுப்பிக் 
கண்ணை புரட்டி விழித்துக் கழகண்டு………………… 
உண்ணக் கனிகள் தருவன்

Krishna takes a fast run back into his abode!!!
The moment the eats are knocked out from the pots, there was no looking back and Krishna in a symbolic gesture, of grabbing his dishes begins a fast paced run to the temple never to look back again till he reached the sanctum inside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal!!!
On the usual festive day, Namperumal makes his way around the four Chitrai streets after the Uriyadi utsavam and the Ghosti is presented with Paanagam, Paruppu and Sandal Paste (however this trip had to be done away with on Thursday evening due to an emergency).

PS: In the first few days of the ‘Cauvery Pushkaram’, the number of devotees having darshan of Lord Ranganatha using the Rs. 250 ticket counter swelled and topped 6000 each day, that’s a mind boggling number. The Rs. 50 ticket has been dispensed with for the fortnight. The 250 rupee ticket counter has been moved to outside the Arya Bhattal Vaasal. The Sri Patham Thangis are working overtime during the fortnight to manage the crowd. The decibel level of the devotees in their eagerness to have a glimpse of the Moolavar Lord, has reached uncontrollable heights. In light of this, the Vishwaroopam darshan has been done away with this week!!

Over the fortnight of this event, the temple is expected to rake in income of over Rs. 1 crore!!! 

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