Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Kanchipuram Varadar Dhavana Utsavam

Varadaraja Perumal provides darshan in Venugopalan Thiru Kolam at the Thottam
Presentation of the Prabhandham Verses by the 86 year old Ghanta Venkata Varadan Kesari was a big highlight on the concluding day of the three day Utsavam
It is the season of moving into the summer phase of the year.  Historically, Maasi is the month when Dhavana Utsavam is celebrated welcoming the Lord into the Nandavanam to watch the blooming of the Fragrant Dhavanam Flowers.

This ancient Utsavam was celebrated in a grand manner over three days at Varadaraja Perumal Divya Desam in Kanchipuram at the Thottam in the North West end of the huge temple praised in several verses by Vedantha Desikar.

In Adaikala Pathu, he refers to this temple as one of the most prominent places to seek Mukthi.

பத்தி முதலாம் அவற்றில் பத்தி எனக்குக் கூடாமல்
எத்திசையும் உழன்றேடி இளைத்துவிழும் காகம் போல்
முத்திதரும் நகர் எழில் முக்கியமாம் கச்சிதன்னில்  
அத்திகிரி அருளாளர்க்கு அடைக்கலம் நான் புகுந்தேனே

On the third and concluding day of the Utsavam, the Bhattars were up early in the morning at the Alankaram Mandapam to decorate Varadar as well as Perundevi Thayar for the day’s outing. By 11am the two of them were ready at their respective abodes for the procession.

Varadaraja Perumal made his way out from the ‘Malai’ Koil and as he came out to the next prakaram, he was delighted to find Perundevi Thayar waiting for him at the entrance of her Sannidhi. Welcoming her with a smile, Varadaraja Perumal, with Thayar by his side made his way out to the Thottam led by the traditional Vadhyam. 
While a number of Divya Desams wear a deserted look on weekdays, it was heartening to find that the utsavam here at the Varadaraja Perumal Divya Desam was attended by hundreds of traditional devotees most of whom stayed till the very end.

 Big Thaligai on the Day
As he entered the Thottam, one could spot a smile in the Lord’s face as he sensed the beautiful fragrance of the Dhavanam that had sprouted in large numbers. It was also a special day for the deities in terms of Thaligai offered to them. Soon after the entry at the asthana mandapam inside the Thottam, the Lord and Thayar were presented with hot ghee filled Chakkarai Pongal and Cashew Halwa.

An hour and a half later, starting at 1.30pm the couple enjoyed showering of Sandal Paste and fruits on them as part of the 75 minute long Thirumanjanam. Especially pleasing during the Thirumanjanam was the solo devotional presentation of the sacred verses both from Nalayira Divya Prabhandham as well as Desikar Prabhandham by 86 year old ‘Ghanta’ Venkata Varadar.
Unmindful of the nonstop photo clicks by the devotees and the loud gossips by many at the mandapam, Ghanta Kesari presented verses of praise of the Lord describing his greatness and how he always was around to protect the good from the evil. 

However, even this most committed rendering with such devotion was unfortunately not enough to prevent devotees from standing right behind him to click photos of the Lord and engaging in talks!!
And the times that we live in is such that these photos of the Thirumanjanam had hit the social media by 2.30 pm. Even those in the traditional attire did not spare the Lord from nonstop photos during these 75 minutes with their hands held high.

Notwithstanding such distractions, the Lord and Thayar seemed to enjoy the presentation of Ghanta Kesari and at the end sported a big smile commending the utmost devotion behind the rendering of the verses at this old age.

The Lord and Thayar were then treated to another round of delicious Thaligai this time large quantities of Ven Pongal and once again Chakkarai Pongal.

Venugopalan Thiru Kolam
After this sumptuous meal, the Lord prepared himself to provide the devotees with the special Thiru Kolam of the day to mark the culmination of the Utsavam. For an hour, Raja Bhattar and his team worked on the Lord’s attire for the evening procession paying detailed attention to each aspect of the Thiru Kolam from the Lord’s flute to the placing of the feet from the right Abharanams to the folds on the Silk Vastram.
 As the screen opened at 5pm, hundreds of devotees who had gathered at the Thotta Mandapam were thrilled at the sight of watching the two in identical dresses. Varadaraja Perumal was seen in a grand yellow silk vastram to match Perundevi Thayar’s shining yellow silk saree.

Providing darshan in a standing posture in the Venugopalan Thiru Kolam, Lord Varadaraja Perumal was seen playing his favourite flute with the legs crossed. The fragrance from the Dhavanam in the huge garland seemed to make him happy.

Soon after, in line with the Lord’s Thiru Kolam, the Nagaswaram artiste played the ‘Alaipaayudhey Kanna’ song during the Pathi Ulathal much to the delight of the devotees.

Ghosti - Periyazhvaar Thirumozhi
By 7pm, the big Prabhandham Ghosti were waiting at the entrance of the Thottam and as the two made their way out to the Northern Prakaram, the 25 strong Ghosti welcomed the couple from the Thottam with the loud recital of Periyazhvaar’s Vanna Madangal Soozh verses.

While the Prabhandham Ghosti led the procession with the 10 verses from Periyazhvaar Thirumozhi, the Veda Parayanam group followed the couple chanting the sacred verses from the vedas.  After brief stopovers at Nam Azhvaar, Ramanuja and Vedanta Desikar Sannidhis, the couple made their way to the Western Raja Gopuram where the Prabhandham Ghosti presented the Satru Murai for the evening procession.
It was close to 8pm when Perundevi Thayar bid adieu to Varadaraja Perumal as she made her way into her Sannidhi. For the first time on this long day, there was a tinge of sadness on the Lord’s face  and he waited till the very last moment as Thayar ‘disappeared’ into her Sannidhi before moving on to his ‘abode’ at the Malai Koil bringing to end the Davana Utsavam.

PS: While the Thottam is huge including the one at the far East End of the temple, a large area seems to be largely unattended to with big bushes in many places behind the asthana mandapam and near the Eastern Raja Gopuram. Also, the mandapam enroute to the asthana mandapam inside the Thottam is in a dilapidated condition and filled with bats.

1 comment:

markiv said...

Another wonderful article. You were silent for long time if I am correct. I was thinking if everything is okay for you. Thank you. Also I read the Vanamamalai temple renovation article too, published too in The Hindu Friday review, edited and pushed to back pages, I think to make way for 'other' articles, don't want to use verbs ! . Thanks to the great efforts of Sri. Venu Serinivasan in restoring divadesams, he is truly blessed and so you are sir. Thank you.