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Updated: June 12, 2012 10:44 IST

Ranganathar guides us to Paramapadham

Prema Nandakumar
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PATH OF SALVATION: Namperumal attired in Ratnangi, passing through the
The Hindu
PATH OF SALVATION: Namperumal attired in Ratnangi, passing through the "Paramapada vassal'' on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi festival. File photo: D.Gopalakrishnan

Pagalpaththu, Erapaththu celebrations throw open the Swarga Vaasal

The Srirangam temple is famous in the annals of India's religion, art, architecture, spirituality and literature. It is a festival-rich temple and the Vaikunta Ekadasi is the most important of them. Also known as Paramapada Ekadasi, Adhyayanotsava and, Swargavaasal, the festival is spread over 20 days, beginning with the waxing moon date of Margazhi or Margasirsa month (December-January). The origin of the festival is traced to Thirumangai Azhwar (9 century A.D.) It was the Azhwar who arranged for the utsava vigraha of Nammazhwar to be brought to Srirangam from Azhwar Thirunagari, and the Thiruvaimozhi (One Thousand hymns by Nammazhwar) recited for ten days before Namperumal. Later Nathamuni, first Srivaishnava acharya, made elaborate arrangements for such recitation during the Ekadasi period. When Ramanujar became the pontiff and took charge of the temple's administration, the recitation period was extended to 20 days, so that the rest of the hymns in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham could also be recited. .

The Vaikunta Ekadasi festival begins with the recitation of Thirumangai Azhwar's pasurams, ‘Thirunedunthandakam'. Every day, Namperumal is taken to the Arjuna Mandapam in Simha Gati (Leonine Walk). The Azhwars and Acharyas are also brought here from their respective shrines. The Thulukka Nachchiar Sannidhi (The Muslim Princess who became a devotee of Ranganathar) is in the Arjuna Mandapam. Betel leaves and nuts are sent to the Lord from Nachchiar shrine. The Araiyars present the hymns during day time. Hence these ten days are known as Pagalpaththu. Each day will have a special presentation. On the tenth day, the Lord takes the form of Mohini. Dressed in white silk, with the tresses long and ornamented, the Lord in Mohini Alankaram is a great attraction for devotees from all over the world.

On Ekadasi day, the Lord issues forth quite early in the morning (around 4 A.M.). He is decked with jewelled armour which is veiled by a muslin shawl. His garland has tiny parrots, a marvellous art of the garland makers of Srirangam. He is adorned with the Pandiyan Kondai. The Bhattar Swami is brought in with temple honours. At once, the Arya Bhatal doors are banged shut. Then the Araiyar recites the first verse of Nammazhwar's Tiruvaimozhi.

Namperumal leaves the sanctum and comes down the Karpura steps and turns west. This pradakshina is known as Rajamahendran circle. Here, the verses of Pillai Perumal Iyengar are recited. And finally, Namperumal's procession reaches the Paramapada Vaasal and its doors are flung open! Year after year, at the scheduled time, Ranganathar helps us cross this door. Issuing out of the door, the Lord moves to the Thousand Pillared Mandapam and ascends the Tirumamani Mandapam. Just as he had held court in the Arjuna Mandapam for ten days, from now onwards, he will be in this mandapa at night and listen to Thiruvaimozhi along with the Azhewrs and the Acharyas. Well, he is rightly called Kaveri theera rasika!

The Moolavar of Ranganathar is adorned with an armour of pearls on Vaikunta Ekadasi day. The Handsome Bridegroom (Azhagiya Manavalan) is All-Beautiful, a Divya Mangala Vigraha. Salutations to the Lord who never fails the devotee!

thankyou the hindu for this good article

from:  vamsi
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 10:08 IST

Thanks for the special page, and requested for the DVD of the same

from:  Seshadri
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 14:31 IST

Thanks for your nice write-up and special coverage feature by The Hindu. Good work, keep it up.This is encouraging to know more about our culture and heritage.

from:  Senthilkumar
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 13:12 IST

"The HINDU" , true to its name and tradition, has been bringing out such informative articles regularly to its readers . It is all the more important that in this present day world with the New gen culture, such religious festivals are covered in such an eluciditative manner which will facilitiate the traditions be carried forward from one generation to the next and so on. Thank you "THE HINDU".

from:  M.Balasubramanian
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 13:07 IST

Thank you for bringing this special edition.

from:  Sethu
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 05:31 IST

It is really LORD RANGANATHAR is guiding us to paramapadham through the path laid by THE HINDU. It is un paralleled-- reporting about a festival . The video presentation of SRI Velukkudi Krishnan swami is quite relevant and in a way more educative also . The slide show is apt to the situation.Glimpses of ''NAMPERUMAL " through the slide show is more appealing than the one experienced by anybody who may have been physically present there. I appeal to The Hindu, as is in the case of your publication of your compilations,-to bring out a compilation with DVD and also explore the possibilities of bringjng out a periodical exclusively catering to the thirst of spiritual-minded, religious, philanthoplsts and the like. Such an exercise will have a far reaching effect and will also turn the events to come combined with a red carpet welcome.Hatsoff to THE HINDU - team.

from:  PT Sridharan
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 04:41 IST

This is a beautiful and informative write-up about the Vaikuntha ekadasi festival at Srirangam which town is indeed a Bhooloka Vaikuntha.All the events and details are very neatly presented.The Hindu should be congratulated for this effort.We hope to read more about these festivals and their religious significances.

from:  Anuradha Sridharan
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 04:29 IST

Plese Keep It Up.Continue To Publish a Special Page On Each And Every religious festival. The "Baton" of Our Culture Should be passed on to the next Generation perenially. It is the responsibility of your esteemed newspaper.

from:  k.m.rao
Posted on: Jan 5, 2012 at 12:28 IST

ACHARYAN THIRUVADI SARANAM. "Vaikuntha Maha Ekadasi", the day to which all souls are waiting to enter and worship. Fruits from 364 days of worship can be got on this occasion.Let all souls in the universe rest unto his lotus feet forever.

from:  Shankar BA Hons ACSA
Posted on: Jan 5, 2012 at 11:14 IST
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