SrIvaishNava uthsavams

SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama: SrI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

namperumal-garudanSrIranganAthan – garuda sEvai

uthsavam generally means festivities or joyful celebrations. In dhivya dhEsams, abhimAna sthalams and AzhwAr/AchArya avathAra sthalams, throughout the year, several festivals are celebrated.

bhagavAn appears in five different forms – para, vyUha, vibhava, archA and antharyAmi (more on this can be seen at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/10/archavathara-anubhavam-parathvadhi.html). Of these, archAvathAra form is the most compassionate. emperumAn wilfully descends into the material world and assumes various forms in various dhivya dhEsams, mutts, thirumALigais (residences), etc. In doing so, he also vows to fully depend on his devotees to take care of him as he himself would not do anything to take care of his bathing, eating, sleeping, etc. It is the ultimate manifestation of his supremacy, that is, completely giving up his supreme independence and acting as if he is completely dependent.

uthsavam is a great revelation of the mercy/compassion of emperumAn and thAyArs enacting wonderful activities to uplift every one in this samsAram. People are generally engaged in all kinds of materialistic activities. By placing himself in the center of all the events and enacting wonderful events, emperumAn attracts all kinds of people towards him, reform them, change their attachment from worldly pleasures to spiritual matters and finally uplift them. This is the main purpose of emperumAn‘s uthsavams.

This article gives a brief introduction to the various uthsavams that happen at most srIvaishNava temples.

In srIvaishNava temples, all uthsavams are usually accompanied with dhivya prabandham and vEdha pArAyaNam (Note: It is sad that vEdha pArAyaNam is slowly fading away in many dhivya dhEsams. Even during uthsavams, very few dhivya dhEsams have vEdha pArAyaNam nowadays). While in some uthsavams at some temples, all 4000 pAsurams are recited, in certain cases, only thiruvAimozhi is recited. Also, at times when there is a procession, iyaRpA is recited.

  • brahmOthsavam
    • brahmOthsavam is the main uthsavam for the main deity of the temple. Generally, it relates to brahmA performing the first uthsavam of the temple and the tradition being continued through ages. It would also relate to the day when the mUlavar deity was consecrated at the temple. Usually there will be two processions for perumAL – one in the morning and the other in the evening.
    • ankurArppaNam – planting of seeds in sacred soil for the auspicious conduct of the uthsavam is done marking the beginning of the uthsavam.
    • sEnai mudhaliyAr puRappAdu (procession) – the day before the uthsavam, usually sEnai mudhaliyAr (viswaksEnar) goes around the route of the procession to ensure the streets/roads are in order.
    • dhvaja ArOhaNam – usually, the first day starts with flag hoisting. garuda flag is hoisted in the dhvaya sthambam and left flying during the uthsavam.
    • garuda vAhanam – This happens on 3rd, 4th or 5th day depending on the particular region. garuda is known as vEdhAthmA – meaning the soul of vEdham. Since garuda carries srIman nArAyaNan on him always, it is obvious that srIman nArAyaNan is the object of vEdham as well. Thus, garuda vAhanam is considered as an important part of brahmOthsavams since it establishes the supremacy of srIman nArAyaNa.
    • thiru thEr – rathOthsavam – This usually happens on 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th day depending on the region. Chariot festival is glorified greatly in various literature. Anyone worshipping emperumAn in the chariot is said to be freed from many many sins. This also engages the whole community in kainkaryam together as the chariot is pulled by everyone.
    • kudhirai (aswa/horse) vAhanam – vEdu paRi uthsavam
      • vEdu has different meanings in thamizh – the main ones are hunting and piece of cloth. paRi means grabbing/robbing. In srIvaishNavam, it is generally related to thirumangai AzhwAr trying to rob ornaments of perumAL (who came in disguise of a wealthy brAhmaNa groom) to perform thadhIyArAdhanam (feeding of devotees)
      • kaliyan (thirumangai AzhwAr) was performing thadhIyArAdhanam (offering prasAdham to devotees) during his life time. At one point, he ran out of wealth. So, he started robbing wealthy merchants, etc., who were travelling through the forest. As he was already situated in serving srIvaishNavas, emperumAn wanting to fully enlighten kaliyan, assumes the form of a newly married wealthy brAhmaNa and travels through the forest where kaliyan was doing his robbery routinely. kaliyan, wanting to use this great opportunity, surrounds emperumAn with his soldiers and starts robbing him. emperumAn offers all his ornaments and jewels to kaliyan. In the end, there is one small ring in emperumAn‘s toe which was difficult to remove. kaliyan bends down, cuts it with his teeth and removes it forcefully. emperumAn being astonished by kaliyan‘s bravery, calls him out “nam kaliyanO” (Are you kaliyan? kaliyan generally means great warrior and is synonymous to kAlan, the master of death and controller of time – one who is feared by everyone – even emperumAn feared for kaliyan‘s valour). When all the ornaments are thus removed and packed, kaliyan tries to lift that package up but is unable to do so. He enquires emperumAn who was dressed as a brAhmaNa if he has performed any manthram or magic so that it cannot be lifted up. emperumAn acknowledges that he indeed has a manthram and he brings kaliyan closer to him and explains thirumanthram (ashtAksharam) in kaliyan‘s ears secretly. Being instructed on the divine manthram, kaliyan at once becomes fully enlightened by the causeless grace of emperumAn. emperumAn then assumes his original form along with his nAchiyArs on garudAzhwAr and blesses AzhwAr with a divine vision. AzhwAr at once sings “vAdinEn vAdi varunthinEn … nArAyaNa ennum nAmam” (I suffered eternally in this material world … until I heard ashtAkshara mahA manthram) pAsuram which is the 1st pAsuram of periya thirumozhi and other dhivya prabhandhams (one by one). This whole event is usually enacted in dhivya dhEsams during the horse vAhanam day which is part of brahmOthsavam.
    • mattaiyadi – mattaiyadi (praNaya rOsham/kalaham – friendly quarrels between lovers – perumAL and thAyAr) uthsavam is observed in many dhivya dhEsams.
      • This uthsavam is celebrated with great joy in srIrangam during panguni uthram. This is continuation of yesterday’s hunting uthsavam. perumAL goes to the forest to kill evil beasts and protect his dependants. In the process, he gets little wounds on his divine body. So, he covers his body and returns to the temple.
      • At the temple, thAyArs are upset with emperumAn thinking that he went to be with his other nAchiyArs. They shut the door and does not allow emperumAn to enter the temple. emperumAn pleads innocence with them and explains that he did not go looking out for women but we went to protect his citizens as a king would take care off his citizens.
      • Finally, with the intervention of nammAzhwAr, thAyArs become pacified. perumAL and thAyArs play with flower balls and reveal the deep love for each other.
    • thIrthavAri – holy bathing – avabrutha snAnam of chakkarathAzhwAr is celebrated with great joy (in some dhivya dhEsams, perumAL himself will bath in the pushkariNi (tank) or the water body which is present nearby).
    • dhvaja avarOhaNam – garuda flag is unhoisted signalling the end of the uthsavam.
    • dhvAdhasa ArAdhanam – On this final day, in most dhivya dhEsams in thoNdai nAdu, thiruvAimozhi will be recited at a single stretch. In some temples, dhvAdhasa thiruvArAdhanam (12 thiruvArAdhanams) to perumAL is done along with pushpa yAgam. It is also common to observe thirumanjanam for emperumAn before thiruvAimozhi recital. In some temples, all emperumAns/AzhwArs/AchAryas will be present for the thirumanjanam and thiruvAimozhi recital.
    • sapthAvaraNam – In the evening, perumAL with thAyArs will enjoy puRappAdu in small chariot, puNya kOti vimAnam or chapparam with rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi gOshti. During completion, iyal sARRumuRai will also be recited. After returning to the temple, all the dhEvathas, rishis, srIvaishNavas who are visiting will be given a send-off by perumAL (archakas usually recite these verses). After that, the main archakar who took dhIkshA for the uthsavam will be given a customary send-off with all bahumAnams from perumAL.
    • vidAyARRi (relaxation) – After the uthsavam, in most temples there will be a few days of relaxation. On these days, perumAL will enjoy thirumanjanam, dhivya prabhandham recital followed by some carnatic musical concert, etc.
  • theppOthsavam (float festival) – Float festival is celebrated in the pushkariNi (tank) or water body near the temple. emperumAn along with thAyArs will go on a procession to the water body and board on the beautifully decorated float (boat like structure). The float will go around the maNdapam (usually in the center of the tank) for a few times.
  • pallava uthsavam – This uthsavam relates to emperumAn adorning and enjoying a specific type of sprout/shoot during the spring time. Also, in many temples, perumAL will listen to the sthala purANam during this time.
  • vasanthOthsavam (spring festival) – Generally, perumAL will visit a garden nearby and stay there for some time and enjoy a procession around the garden. thirumanjanam, thiruvArAdhanam, etc are also done in some places.
  • kOdai uthsavam (summer festival) – Most places, perumAL will go on a procession and at times to a specific maNdapam where he will enjoy thirumanjanam, thiruvArAdhanam, etc.
  • srI rAma navami – Usually, perumAL‘s (srI rAma) appearance day is celebrated for 9 days with puRappAdu (procession), etc.
  • pavithrOthsavam – Temple activities are conducted based on (pAncharAthra/vaikAnasa) Agama rules. It is possible that there are some deficiencies in following certain principles/activities. To rectify such deficiencies, each year, pavithrOthsavam is performed.  yAga sAlai (place where havan is conducted) will be constructed and perumAL/thAyArs will visit the yAga sAlai every day, enjoy thirumanjanam and listen to dhivya prabhandham and vEdha pArAyaNam. This is celebrated for 3, 5 or 7 days depending on the region.
  • Ani (jyEshta mAsa) garudOthsavam – Usually on Ani swAthi, which is periyAzhwAr‘s thirunakshathram, a procession for perumAL on garuda vAhanam is conducted. Since periyAzhwAr established srIman nArAyaNa’s supremacy and immediately afterwards perumAL appeared in garuda vAhanam to bless AzhwAr with his dharsan, this uthsavam is celebrated.
  • jyEshtAbishEkam – Most perumALs are adorned with kavacham (armour). On this day, perumAL‘s kavacham will be removed and his original divine form will be fully bathed. In the evening, perumAL will again wear kavacham and enjoy thiruvArAdhanam. Usually, after jyEshtAbishEkam, there will be no puRappAdu for perumAL until the completion of pavithrOthsavam.
  • Adi paurNami garudOthsavam – gajEndhra mOksham – Generally yajur upAkarmA and this uthsavam comes on the same day.
  • srI jayanthi – kaNNan emperumAn‘s appearance day – depending on the Agamam its celebrated on different days (based on the combination of AvaNi month, ashtami thithi and rOhiNi nakshathram). Celebrations will start in the evening and go until midnight in most temples. This is followed by uRiyadi uthsavam on the next day.
  • navarAthri – 9 days – thAyAr puRappAdu, Unjal (jhUlA), etc.
  • vijaya dhasami – pAr vEttai – emperumAn goes for hunting on this day.
  • dhIpAvaLi – perumAL/thAyArs puRappAdu. Most times, this will happen amidst mAmunigaL uthsavam.
  • kArthigai dhIpam – Beginning of anadhyayana kAlam. Usually, many lamps are lit in all sannidhis on this day in the evening. In many dhivya dhEsams, sokkap pAnai (a pile of hay) is burnt down in front of perumAL during the procession.
  • adhyayana uthsavam – 20+ days of divine celebration specifically for nammAzhwAr and his thiruvAimozhi
  • mArgazhi (dhanur) mAsam – 30 days divine celebration for ANdAL‘s thiruppAvai.
    • Usually, in the early morning, thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi and thiruppAvai are recited in the various sannidhis.
    • In most temples, thiruppAvai upanyAsams are arranged and many attend such upanyAsam.
    • From the 21st day of the month (approximately), ANdAL nIrAtta uthsavam will be celebrated with puRappAdu for ANdAL.
    • On bhOgi (day before sankarAnthi), ANdAL/perumAL thirukkalyANam will be observed.
    • On sankarAnthi, there will be a grand procession for ANdAL/perumAL in the streets.
  • mAsi magam – perumAL visits seashore for thIrthavAri.
  • panguni uthram – perumAL/thAyAr sErthi (dharsan together) and gadhya thrayam recital in front of them. More details can be found at http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2013/03/panguni-uthram-and-emperumanar.html

AzhwArs/AchAryas thirunakshathrams (birth days)

These are usually celebrated with great pomp and festivities at srIvaishNava dhivya dhEsams. For example, nammAzhwAr (vaikAsi visAkam), emperumAnAr (chithrai thiruvAdhirai), maNavALa mAmunigaL (aippasi thirumUlam) uthsavams are celebrated wonderfully in many dhivya dhEsams for 10 days.

Generally, the main perumAL of the temple will preside over the thirunakshathram celebrations on the last day. In AzhwAr/AchArya avathAra sthalams, the paricular AzhwAr/AchArya who is the sthalAchArya (presiding AchArya of the sthalam) will preside over the celebrations. For example, in AzhwAr thirunagari, nammAzhwAr presides over all AzhwAr/AchArya thirunakshathram celebrations. In srIperumbUthUr, emperumAnAr presides over all AzhwAr/AchArya thirunakshathram celebrations.

These uthsavams, as explained in the beginning, have a great purpose. It is to bring srIvaishNavas (and other faithful devotees) of various background and capacity together and engage them in kainkaryams together. Let us also participate in such uthsavams and perform kainkaryams selflessly.

Celebrating uthsavams at homes:

Usually, SrI jayanthi, SrI rAma navami, varusha pravESam, makara sankarAnthi (pongal), dhIpAvaLi, kArthigai dhIpam and AzhwAr/AchArya thirunakshathrams are commonly celebrated at SrIvaishNava homes too. Let us see a brief narration on how to celebrate these uthsvams at our homes.

  • SrI jayanthi (krishNa’s birthday)
    • Usually celebrated in the evening.
    • Fasting until evening.
    • Some perform morning thiruvArAdhanam as usual, but does not partake full praSAdham (may consume fruits etc., depending on one’s physical needs).
    • bhakshaNams (sweets and savouries) are prepared for kaNNan emperumAn starting in the morning for evening offering.
    • Elaborate thiruvArAdhanam in the evening with thirumanjanam, dhivya prabandham recital (mainly periyAzhwAr thirumozhi pAsurams which describe the birth of kaNNan emperumAn) and offering of various food preparations and variety of fruits, butter etc.
    • Accept praSAdham after thiruvArAdhanam.
  • SrI rAma navami (SrI rAma’s birthday)
    • Usually celebrated in the morning.
    • Elaborate thiruvArAdhanam in the morning with thirumanjanam, dhivya prabandham recital (mainly perumAL thirumozhi etc), pAsurapadi rAmAyaNam of periyavAchchAn piLLai and offering of food preparations, pAnagam (jaggery/lemon drink), nIr mOr (butter milk), vadai paruppu (moong dhAl soaked in water) etc. Since this occurs during summer time, these preparations are recommended.
  • varusha pravESam, makara sankarAnthi (pongal), dhIpAvaLi, kArthigai dhIpam etc are to be celebrated with elaborate thiruvArAdhanams, dhivya prabandham recitals, special food preparations.
  • AzhwAr/AchArya thirunakshathrams
    • Usually celebrated in the morning.
    • Elaborate thiruvArAdhanam in the morning.
    • dhivya prabandham (http://divyaprabandham.koyil.org/) recital
      • For AzhwArs – svaprabandham (those which are compiled by the particular AzhwAr) should be recited. For example – mudhal thiruvanthAdhi for poigai AzhwAr, iraNdAm thiruvanthAdhi for bhUthaththAzhwAr etc.
      • For AchAryas – svaprabandham if available should be recited. For example,  gadhya thrayam may be recited for emperumAnAr, pancha sthavams may be recited for kUraththAzhwAn, thiruvAimozhi nURRanthAdhi for mAmunigaL etc. If none compiled by the particular AchArya, we can limit the dhivya prabandham to the daily routine.
    • vAzhi thirunAmams (https://guruparamparai.wordpress.com/vazhi-thirunamams/) – Towards the end of the sARRumuRai, the vAzhi thirunAmam of the particular AzhwAr/AchArya should be recited twice.
    • Later during the day too, the works of the particular AzhwAr/AchArya may be studied and discussed among family members, relatives and friends.

Note: At homes, dhivya prabandham recital in the morning should normally include (at least) thiruppallANdu, thiruppaLLiyezhuchchi, thiruppAvai, amalanAdhipirAn, kaNNinuN chiRuth thAmbu, kOyil thiruvAimozhi (whatever possible), rAmAnusa nURRanthAdhi and upadhESa raththina mAlai.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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3 thoughts on “SrIvaishNava uthsavams

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