Dwadasa Garuda sevai will take place on June 3.

Dwadasa Garuda sevai is a regular ritual being conducted in Thanjavur for the past 76 years (thanks to the efforts taken by Sri Ramanuja Darsana Sabaiyar). This year it will be held between June 2 and 5. A unique feature of this festival is that 23 deities will be taken in a procession outnumbering the deities in the Garudasevai held at Thirunangur in Nagapattinam district, Kumbakonam, Tirunelveli and Kanchipuram.

The Garuda sevai procession that will go round the four main streets – East, West, South and North, of Thanjavur - on June 3 will start at 6 a.m. from the banks of the Vennar. At the head of the line-up will be Thirumangai Azhwar on Hamsa Vahana.

The ritual

According to A. Aravamudhan, secretary, Darsana Sabaiyar, Thirumangai Azhwar mangalasasanam will be held at Sri Narasimha Perumal Temple, Vennar banks, on June 2. On June 4, Navaneetha sevai (Vennaithazhi) will begin from Vennar bank at 6 a.m. Vidayatri will be held on June 5, 5 p.m.

This is a festival held in Thanjavur during the Tamil month of Vaikasi every year.

The following are the details of the deities taken out in a procession during this year's festival – Sri Lakshmi samedha Sri Neelamegar, Narasimhar, Manikunna Perumal (all the three on Vennar banks and called as Thanjai Mamanikoil and listed as one divyadesam), Sri Velur Varadarajar, Sri Kalyana Venkatesa Perumal on Vennar bank, Karanthai Sri Yadava Kannan, Kondirajapalayam Sri Yoga Narasimhar and Kothandaramar, Keezharajaveedhi Sri Varadarajar, Therku Veedhi Kaliyuga Venkatesa Perumal, Ayyankadai Theru Bazaar Ramasamy Perumal, Ellaiyammankoil street Sri Janardhana Perumal, Kottai Sri Prasannna Venkatesa Perumal, Sri Govindaraja Perumal, Mela Alankam Sri Renganatha Perumal, Melaraja Veedhi Sri Vijayarama Perumal and Sri Navaneetha Krishnan, Sadanayakkan street Sri Boologa Krishnan, Manambuchavadi Sri Navaneetha Krishnan and Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, Palliagraharam Sri Kothandaramaswamy Perumal, Sunkanthidal Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal and Karanthai Vaniya Theru Padithurai Sri Venkatesa Perumal.

Legend has it that Sri Parasurama rishi came to Thanjavur, which was surrounded by gardens and orchards. As it seemed to be the right place for doing penance, he stayed with his disciples. Having obtained nectar from celestials, he emptied it in Pushkarani Theertham at Thanjavur. This made the place more fertile and peaceful to live in.

Thandakaranyam in the North was hit by drought and a group of demons with Thanjakasuran as chief moved south and tormented the sages. Parasurama's prayers were answered when Narayana took the forms of Neelamega, Mnaikundra and Narasimha and annihilated the demons. On the sage's request, the deities stayed back in Thanjavur and bestowed their grace, seated on Garuda vahana along with Lakshmi on Vaikasi Thiruvonam. This is celebrated as Dwadasa Garuda sevai.

To get more details and to take part in the festival contact Sri Ramanuja Darsana Sabaiyar, 1291, Therku Veedhi, Thanjavur 613 009. Phone 04362-230473.