The Aadi (28th day) festival that took place on August 13, at Srirangam, Tiruchi, was one such event where Lord Ranganatha honoured Goddess Cauvery for her significant role in the development of the Srirangam temple leading to the peaceful and prosperous lives of those living in this historical temple town.
Goddess Cauvery's Significance
The significance of River Cauvery can be compared to the Vraja River which flows in Vaikuntam. Just as one who attains moksham has to enter Vaikuntam only after a bath in the Vraja, so too one who wishes to have darshan of Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam has to first bathe in the Cauvery before entering the temple.
Pure than the Ganges
River Cauvery is believed to be even more pious than the sacred Ganga and is so pure that she is said to make all the other rivers pious as well.
During this period, in Aadi, the river brims with water, touching the edges of the banks on both the sides. Belief is that those who bathe here with pure thoughts will be relieved of all their sins. The beautiful garlands that one sees every day around Lord Ranganatha are a result of the pure water from the Cauvery.
Sacred Water from the Cauvery
While there are several wells inside the Srirangam temple, the sacred water for the Lord to conduct the Thirumanjanam is brought from the Coloroon every day.
It is around this time that the Cauvery is at its peak with water gushing across from the West flowing through the green belt of Tamil Nadu down East - Tiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. For such a significant contribution made by Goddess Cauvery, Lord Ranganatha wonders how He could express his appreciation.
The First Procession of the Year
With this as the background, Namperumal, the utsava deity of Lord Ranganatha, left on his palanquin on a six-hour procession to Amma Mandapam on the Northern Banks of the river to meet Goddess Cauvery. The Aadi 28 event of Lord Ranganatha making it to the banks of the River Cauvery is His way of showing gratitude to her for helping the farmers.
Having begun his long trip from the temple at 7.30 a.m., Namperumal reached Amma Mandapam, South of Srirangam at 1 p.m. after several stopovers along the way.
Namperumal's thanks giving gesture
The highlight of the Aadi 28 Utsavam at Srirangam was the two special events in the evening, the first of which saw Namperumal honouring Goddess Cauvery on the river bank at Amma Mandapam. At 5 p.m., Namperumal, through his representatives seated atop the temple elephant, went right down to the banks of the river to shower gifts such as garland, tirumangalyam, fruits and sari on Goddess Cauvery thanking her.
After providing darshan for over three hours that evening to the devotees who had gathered at the Amma Mandapam, Namperumal began his return trip at 8.30 p.m. On his way back, Namperumal stopped near the Andal shrine at 9 p.m. at the Veli Andal temple, the original Andal temple in Srirangam, at the Southern end of West Adayavalanjan.
The visit of Namperumal to Veli Andal shrine to exchange garland on the occasion of Aadi 28 marks the Lord's first procession of the year after his month-long break at the end of the Vaikasi Utsavam (There is no procession during the entire month of Aani). This first procession of the year in Aadi heralds the festivities at the temple for the rest of the year.
The Veli Andal shrine in Srirangam is where Andal was supposed to have stopped after leaving Srivilliputhur with the aim of uniting with Rangan.
This visit of Namperumal to the Veli Andal Sannidhi in Aadi is one of the two occasions in the year when he comes to meet Andal, the other being during his return trip from Woraiyur in Panguni.
Having exchanged garlands with Andal, Namperumal returned to his sanctum at around 10 p.m. bringing to end the Aadi28 festival.
Keywords: river Cauvery