Event The nine-day Oonjal Utsavam was celebrated with much fanfare at the Ranganatha Swamy temple, Srirangam, Tiruchi. S. Prabhu

‘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 responding with joy to the presentation of these Perumal Thirumozhi verses.

This showcased 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.

Araiyar sevai

With devotees gathering 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 is celebrated in Aippasi dates back to the late 15th Century A.D.

The seventh day of dolotsavam is particularly special because it is on this evening that Namperumal would personally inspect the granary and witness the measurement of paddy that has 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 Ubaya Nachiyars, started His journey 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 were adding on the next measurement as 250 kg and 2,500 kg of paddy thus informing the Lord that His devotees were taking good care of Him by gifting in plenty.

After this event Namperumal made his way to the northern entrance of the temple to meet Ranganayaki Thayar, who offered Him the Thiruvanthikaapu as a measure of protecting the Lord from ‘drishti.’

By 7 p.m., Namperumal reached the Oonjal Mandapam via Manal Veli (Eastern Side) and the Arya Bhattal gate.

For the next three hours, thousands of devotees watched Lord Namperumal with the Ubaya Nachiyars on the Oonjal enjoying the verses of Periazhwar and Kulasekara Azhwar.

During the utsavam, Lord Ranganatha is shown unending care by His devotees with vadhyam (instruments), Arayar Prabhandham and the chaamaram (fanning of the Lord) while the Lord seemed to enjoy the pleasure of sitting on the Oonjal through the evening.

It is a belief that when the Lord is in such a joyous mood, He showers His special blessings fulfilling the prayers of devotees who come here to have His darshan. His presence at the Oonjal Mandapam is said to remove any dosham in the swing.

On the ninth and 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 He returned to His sanctum bringing to an end the annual Aippasi dolotsavam.

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{+t}{+h}Century A.D.