Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sarangapani Koil Garuda Sevai

First the Manian was not seen, then the archakas went missing on the procession
The Big Umbrella was forgotten
Protection from the rain came at the very end with the big shawl around the Lord's body on a Chilly Margazhi evening in Thiru Kudanthai

Finally an indifferent Bhattar climbed on to Garuda's hands to remove the Garland and threw it down on the floor - A sign of times we live in

The Sarangapani Koil in Thiru Kudanthai (Kumbakonam) is dedicated to Lord Aravamudhan, the one who directed Saint Natha Muni to Nam Azhvaar at Thiru Kurugur and helped revive the sacred 4000 verses that had been lost to the world at that time.
As per the Sri Prasna Samhitai slokam in the Pancharatra Agama, being present and offering one’s sincere devotion to the Lord at the three utsavams starting from Karthigai and end in Thai will liberate from another birth.

டோலாயா மாணம் கோவிந்தம்
மஞ்சஸ்தம் மதுசூதனன்
ரதஸ்தம் கேசவன் த்ரிஷ்ட்வா
புனர்ஜன்ம நா வித்யதே

The 10 day Dolotsavam starts in Karthigai is then followed by the Pagal Pathu and Era Pathu Utsavam in Margazhi and then culminates in the Chariot festival on the 21st day on Sankaranthi.

Lord Sarangapani does not place his feet on Garuda
The legend of the Garuda Sevai at Thiru Kudanthai is of the Lord Sarangapani rushing on his vehicle Garuda to answer the call of devotee Gajendra who is struggling for life. As this is a sudden call, the Lord is seen in an ‘Avasara Thirukolam’ during the Garuda Sevai at this temple.  Typically a special path is laid out for the Lord (King) by the servants for him to come forward. And then the Ratna Pathai is presented for him to place his feet on. And usually, the Lord takes the permission of Thayar before leaving on any mission.

When he calls on Garuda for the trip, the vehicle asks him for a little time so as to ready himself but the Lord is on an emergency mission to save his devotee and has no time to wait for Garuda’s alankara. Hence he presses his feet on Garuda’s shoulders and generates the speed of movement to reach the destination faster.

At the Garuda Sevai here in Thiru Kudanthai, one does not find Garuda carrying the Lord with his hands and the Lord’s feet are seen pressed on his shoulders. Hence in this Divya Desam, unlike the ones in Kanchipuram and elsewhere, both the feet of the Lord are not ‘tall and straight’.
This is a Divya Desam praised by as many as Seven Azhvaars and the legend relates to the Lord coming directly from Vaikuntam on his chariot to marry Komalavalli Thayar. In centuries gone by, festivals were grand and Azhvaars paint a beautiful picture of the scenario around the temple. The river Cauvery gushing with water all the time, huge mansions of Thiru Kudanthai, the green ripe fields all around and the happy traditional seers chanting the verses in praises of the Lord.

Missing Devotees / Manian/ Archakas/ Umbrella!!!!
It is the day of the Garuda Sevai but devotees are few. Clock has ticked to 730pm, the prabhandham Ghosti is ready, the Sri Patham Thangis have also arrived but there are no devotees at this ancient Divya Desam that is said to have helped the revival of the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham.

There are thick clouds around and the time keeper of the utsavam (the Manian) calls out for the big umbrella to protect the Lord and his vehicle from the rains.

But the attention of most is on the phone and taking early shots of the Lord atop the Garuda Vahana. And the big umbrella is forgotten.

As the Lord makes his into the East Street, there are early signs of the rain with drizzle dotting through the two small umbrellas which are not large enough to protect the handsome looking Lord decked in beautiful jewelry.

A 20 minute wait in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road, the Lord’s procession is brought to a halt. Blissfully unaware of this development, the Ghosti have gone far ahead chanting Thirumazhisai Azhvaar’s Nanmugan Thiruvanthi. The Manian shouts out for the big Umbrella which he had originally ordered. The rain gets heavier and now the Manian is missing. The archakas, who have been at the temple for several years, are unaware of the next action. By now, the Ghosti that had made its way into the South Street leading to the Ramaswamy temple had made its way back wondering as to why Lord Sarangapani had not followed them. 20 minutes passed and the Lord had stood in a stationary position with the small umbrella trying its best to offer protection from the rain.

And finally the big umbrella arrived and the decision was taken to see through the full procession around the four big streets of Thiru Kudanthai.

Where are the two Archakas!!!
Into the South Street, even more commotion was seen. This time the archakas had gone far too ahead of the Lord and the devotees with coconut and flowers were made to stand in front of the Lord with their presentation awaiting the return of the archakas.

By the time the Lord made his way into the deep end of the West Street, the rain had got heavier and the streets soggy making it extremely difficult for the Sri Patham to take a run with the Lord. A decision was taken to wrap the silky shawl around the Lord to protect him the nature’s fury.
The Sri Patham team was quite patient all along on this rainy evening until they made their way into the Sannidhi Street at the entrance of the Raja Gopuram.

The two wheelers placed right on the way of the procession were given a kick and those went tumbling down on the road.

It had ticked past 930pm when the Lord made his way back into the Vahana Mandapam. It was now thanks giving time to the donors of the day. However, by now, impatience had got the better of the bhattar.

The fate of the beautiful 8 Garland Alankaram
It was an eight garland alankaram that Chakravarthy Bhattar had put together for over two hours earlier in the evening giving the Lord a grand look. But Raman Bhattar, who was to remove the garland to present to the donors had no such patience. Climbing atop the vahana with both his legs on the hands of Garuda, he untied the knots with the scissors and threw the large garlands down on the floor for his colleague to pick up and place around the shoulders of the donors such is the respect presented to them at the end of the event.
It seemed that Raman Bhattar had forgotten that at this utsavam even the Lord did not place his two legs on the hands of his vehicle Garuda but the Bhattar in full view of the donors and a few other devotees who stayed back to receive the Lord back into the temple after the procession watched him climb on to the hands of Garuda to remove the garlands.

It is a sign of times that most of us are in a hurry all the time and the need is to get on to the next engagement gets the better of us and devotion takes a back seat in this process.

Finally past 10.30 pm, the Lord provided an Ekantha Sevai bereft of garlands and jewelry as he made his way back into his abode for the night’s rest on a rather indifferent evening of Garuda Sevai at this historic Divya Desam in Thiru Kudanthai.

It seemed appropriate to ask like Thirumazhisai Azhvaar asked in his Thiruchandha Virutham verse if the Lord was indeed tired at the end of this day for he had been made to have multiple unplanned stops and had to bear the brunt of the rain.

நடந்த கால்கள் நொந்தவோ
நடுங்க ஞாலம் ஏனமாய்
இடந்த மெய் குலுங்கவோ
இலங்கு மால் வரைச் கரம்

கடந்த கால் பரந்த
காவிரிக் கரைக் குடந்தையுள்
கிடந்த வாறு எழுந்திருந்து பேசு
வாழி கேசனே - திருமழிசை ஆழ்வார்

PS: Earlier in the evening at the Moolavar Aravamudhan Sannidhi, a young school boy, still in his formal uniform, stood in front of the Sleeping Lord for almost 5 minutes with devoted folded hands invoking the blessings of the Lord, a rare sight these days. It was unlikely that the boy would place anything in the Thattu and the priest took a similar stance (with his eyes closed) and ignoring the boy's presence and not presenting him with the Theertham. The boy waited but the priest ignored and realising the futility of his wait, the boy left!!! 


Anonymous said...

A very well written and comprehensive post. It comes across as somewhat cynical, though. :)

Anonymous said...

Very disturbing...

What have we come to...

Anonymous said...

I thought vaishnavite temples are 10x better than shaivaite. Looks like all are at the same bottom. We are ensuring how far they can go lower


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Felt very sad and angry reading this... What a shame...

markiv said...

I feel very sad by what has happened !

Anonymous said...

Even the blue shawl was removed by another bhattar by climbing on to Garudan’s hands.

The maniyakar is totally irresponsible during utsavams.