Wednesday, September 2, 2009
CHITHIRAI THER (CHARIOT)
ARANGAN ENTERED IN ME
CHITHIRAI THER (CHARIOT)
I saw a renewed energy in all Srirangam Vasis’ for the Chithirai festival that year. The summer was very hot. There was no water in Cauvery. There was no rain. Temperature touched 40°. We don’t know why such things that year-May be God was not kind that year. The Chithirai festival progressed to 10th day Chariot day.
In spite of the severe heat, no water at Cauvery-I saw lakhs and lakhs of people in all the streets-arrived the previous day, sleeping on the pavements with family and children, with tremendous enthusiasm-unmindful of any hardships with only one motto-to pull the chariot and have the dharsan of Govinda-Ranga Prabho !
On all the streets I saw Thanneer Pandals, food pockets ready to be distributed, pavement vendors very busy to sell the products-waiting for that moment to pull Arangan Chariot-all the attention centered at Rangan on the chariot.
I wanted to know the background of this historical festival and approached an elder-resident of Srirangam for a long time.
Foremost among the 108-Divya desa-Srirangam Temple faced on slaughts from yavanas (Muslims). In 1323 BC Muslims invaded this temple and looted all the jewels. Idols and properties and damaged the temple. Thousands of Srirangam residents were killed.
Some people fearing that Muslims may damage the moorthies and Peria Perumal they raised a wall to hide Him. Pillailokachariar took the Utsava Moorthy and along with his disciples went to Karnataka and were living there.
When things settled down-steps were taken to bring Namperumal to Srirangam. Namperumal reached Srirangam in 1371 BC. Before that He was in a village on the other side of river Kollidam-named Azagia Manavalam.
Hearing the grace of Namperumal King of Vijayanagara-Virupanna Udayar came to Srirangam and reconstructed the damaged Srirangam Temple. He wanted to restart all the festivals.
He wanted to start the –Ther Thiruviza –chariot festival. He sent invitations to all people in and around Srirangam requesting them to bring whatever materials they can contribute. People thronged to participate in this sacred endeavor by offering Gold Coins, Cattle, Rice and other products.
They came in large numbers to pull the chariot. The effort put by Viruppanna Udayar cannot be forgotten by Times. He donated 52 villages to Aragan’s sevas and saw that the temple was managed efficiently. The Villagers 0f Azagia Manavalam endowed the entire village to Arangan.
During Flag Hoisting ceremony the temple authorities will announce even to-day about this endowment and the 10-day Chithirai festival is called Viruppan Thirunal.
Those who closely observed the way the festival is held will say that it is an art. Every thing is according to time and date-punctuality is maintained of starting each vahana –from start to veedhi pradakshina to return to the Vahana mandabam and to Kannadi Arai.
Srirangam people know exactly what vahana to day morning and evening and every day. They will tell the place Arangan visit every day for Dharsan-thus exhibiting their close proximity to Arangan
This year Chithirai festival was significant- lot of young people-college students came in large numbers to participate in various activities. I saw a sense of purpose in their faces- a new fresh energy and attraction which I have not seen before.
Exactly at 6.00 AM the chariot was pulled from the place and it reached after making round of all the Chithirai streets at 9.00 AM. We saw lakhs of People in all the streets helping to pull the chariot.
This Chithirai Festival is significant in many ways.
1.On the 8th day Cobblers will offer Chappell to Arangan (made of leather) the beauty of this is- One cobbler from a village will make the one for right leg. The left leg will be from another village. The Two who make the chapel will not know each other and will be known only at the time of presentation. The size will exactly to Arangan.
2.On the 6th day Arangan will come opposite to Andal temple in West Adayavalanchan Street and Exchange garland with Andal. He will wear only the garland of Andal and not any other consorts.
3.The flowers and garlands will come from the garden of Madura Kavi.
4.On the festival occasion Veda and prabandams will be recited at the Karthikai Gopura entrance.
5.From the day Arangan wears the sacred thread on His Hands He will not return to the Sanctum Sanctorum (the original place) but will stay only at the Mirror Room. Only after-Theerthavari- He will return.
6.While He takes the round in the Chariot-till He returns back to the starting place there will be no dharsan of any deities inside the temple.
These historical festivals are being held from time immemorial and almost all the days in a year-for the benefit of welfare of the nation and its people. Lakhs of people visit every day to pay their love and affection to Arangan and return back fully satisfied and contended.
I was one among them in pulling the chariot and somehow I had a feeling that I could not see Arangan clearly however best I tried. People told me that you complete the round along with Him-but due to heavy rush-even that was not possible. This troubled me.
My wife used to tell me that if you sincerely pray Rangan- He will not let you down. I have seen this practically whenever I visit Him and praying that I must get Theertha Prasadam with Sri Chadari this time – and I have obtained.
On this day in the evening we went for-Veedhi Pradakshinam and when we returned back to the entrance-we wanted to take the chance to see Nam Perumal-who at that time may be in Revathi Mandapam undergoing-Holy Bath. When we went there-there was no crowd and we were able to have the Dharsan of Arangan to our heart content.
I was thinking on the way-what a Grace of our Lord-those who surrender at His feet-He never let them down.