Staff Reporter

Saraswathi idol is taken out in a procession

Unique rituals form part of festival

Nagercoil: Navarathri festival, an inter-State festival celebrated in Kanyakumari district and Thiruvananthapuram in adjoining Kerala, commenced on Saturday with the bringing out of the idol of Goddess Saraswathi from the palace at Padmanabhapuram, erstwhile capital of Travancore State.

As part of the unique rituals, the Saraswathi idol was carried on the back of a caparisoned elephant; that of Velayuthaperumal (Murugan) brought from Velimalai in Kumarakoil on a decorated silver horse mount and Munnanithanka, brought from Suchindram, in a palanquin. The procession will reach Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram a day before the festival. From there the procession will be on a grander scale.

It will enter the Fort through the east gate and halt at old Pakatasala gate where offerings will be made. The elder members of the erstwhile royal family will worship the Saraswathi idol at the gate. The idol will be taken inside the palace while the procession will continue along the main road of the fort in Thiruvananthapuram.

The idol of Velayudhaperumal will be taken to the Aryasala Temple and that of Munnanithanka to the Chenthitta Temple. At an auspicious moment, the Saraswathi idol will be taken to a room at the southern end of the Chokotta Mandapam for the formal ceremony of ‘Puja Vaippu’ or placing sacred ‘granthas’ and weapons, including the king’s sword, at the foot of the idol. Pujas will be conducted by the tantri of Padmanabhaswami Temple. In the evenings of the 10-day festival, the Chokkotta Mandapam will be well decorated and illuminated.

On Vijayadhasami, as per tradition, the erstwhile Maharaja, will lead the procession to the Vijaya Mandapam opposite Vijaya Vilasam Mandapam at Poojapura in Thiruvananthapuram. After the festival, the idols of Saraswathi, Velayuthaperumal and Munnuttinanka are taken back to the respective palace and temples in Kanyakumari district. In the absence of the Maharaja, an elder from the royal family performs the rituals now.

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