The nine-day Oonjal Utsavam was celebrated with fanfare at the Ranganatha Swamy temple, Srirangam, Tiruchi.
‘Maanikkam Katti Vairam Idai Katti Aanip Ponnaal Seitha Vannach Chiruth Thottil….Vaiyam Alanthaney Thaaleylo.’
Through the presentation of this Periazhwar’s Prabhandham verse referring to the Lord’s golden cradle, Araiyars Sampath Kumaran and Ramanujacharya welcomed Namperumal with the Ubaya Nachiyars at the Oonjal Mandapam on the seventh day of the Dolotsavam that took place recently at the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, Tiruchi.
When the Araiyars followed this up with another set of beautiful Thaalaatu verses - Kulasekara Azhwar’s ‘Mannu Pugazh Kosalaithan,’ one could almost visualise Namperumal reacting with joy to the presentation of these Perumal Thirumozhi verses. This showcased as to how much Lord Ranganatha enjoyed playing on the swing. This presentation was also relevant, for the Oonjal Mandapam is located in the Kulasekara Thiruchutru (prakaram) – one contributed by Kulasekara Azhwar.
With the devotees who had gathered around the Oonjal Mandapam in big numbers , the two Araiyars completed their presentation for the evening with Thirumangai Azhwar’s Saranagathi Periya Thirumozhi prabhandham – ‘Ezhai Ethalan Keezhmagan Ennaathu….Ani Pozhil Thiruvarangaththu Ammaaney.’
The nine-day utsavam at the Ranganathaswamy temple that has come to be celebrated annually in Aippasi for over 500 years now, dates back to the late 15th Century A.D.
Nel Alavu Display
The seventh day of the dolotsavam is particularly special because it is on this evening that Namperumal used to personally inspect the granary and witness the measurement of paddy that have accrued to him through gifts from kings as well as from His devotees. The quantity of paddy also symbolises the prosperity or otherwise of the kingdom.
This year, Namperumal, with his Ubaya Nachiyars started the procession at 6 p.m. to reach Thiru Kottaram, West of the Garuda Sannidhi. Here, the ‘Nel Alavu’ display event was enacted with representatives of Namperumal measuring and displaying to the Lord the 25 kg of paddy following which the representatives shouted out the next measurement as 250 kg and 2,500 kg of Paddy thus informing Lord Namperumal that all was well in the region and that devotees were taking good care of him by gifting in plenty.
After the joy of finding out that his devotees were showering their wealth on him, Namperumal made his way to the Northern entrance of the temple to meet with and have darshan of Ranganayaki Thayar, who presented the Lord with Thiruvanthikaapu as a measure of protecting the Lord from Drishti.
By 7 p.m., Lord Namperumal had made it to the Oonjal Mandapam via the Manal Veli (Eastern Side) and the Arya Bhattal gate. For the next three hours, thousands of devotees watched Lord Namperumal along with the Ubaya Nachiyars on the Oonjal enjoying the presentation of joyful verses of Peri Azhwar and Kulasekara Azhwar.
During the utsavam, Lord Ranganatha is showered with unending care by His devotees with vadhyam (instruments), Arayar Prabhandham and the Saamaram (fanning of the Lord) while He Himself enjoyed these pleasures sitting through the evening on the Oonjal. During this period, the Lord is said to be relieved from all mental tensions and worries and is believed to be in a complete mood of enjoyment.
It is a belief that when the Lord is in such a joyous mood, He does not hold Himself back and showers His special blessings fulfilling the prayers of devotees who come here to have His darshan. Age-old belief is that His presence at the Oonjal Mandapam is said to remove any dosham in the swing.
On the ninth and the final day, Namperumal made His way to the sacred Chandra Pushkarani for the teerthavari utsavam, following which a tirumanjanam was performed for the Lord at the Oonjal Mandapam, after which Namperumal returned to his sanctum bringing to an end the annual Aippasi dolotsavam for this year.
Features of the Oonjal Utsavam
Measurement of paddy, belonging to the Lord, is a special event on the seventh day of the utsavam.
Araiyars of Srirangam presented Thalaattu verses of Periazhwar and Kulasekara Azhwar.
Vadhyam and Saamaram for the Lord is a non-stop feature during the festival.
The 500-year-old nine-day festival was started in the late 15 Century A.D.