Panjal village in Thrissur district is set to host “Athirathram,” a Vedic ritual, from April 4 to 15. The village was the venue of the ritual previously in 1975.
Then, Harvard and Berkeley universities in the U.S. and Helsinki University, Finland, were the organisers. Now, the Varthathe Trust is organising the mega event, near the Lakshminarayana temple in the village.
“Athirathram” was held at Kundoor in 1990 and at Moolankode in Palakkad in 2006. Panjal is 35 km from Thrissur town, 10 km from Shoranur railway station and 90 km from the Nedumbassery airport.
“Back in 1975, ‘Athirathram' was organised by the universities as part of an effort to conserve the great ritual. This time, we are trying to get the ritual scientifically tested and documented,” P. Neelakantan, one of the organisers, said at a press conference here on Thursday.
Considered the ultimate invocation of Vedic scriptures, “Athirathram” is believed to release positive energy to promote universal harmony and peace.
“Only someone who had led a ‘Somayagam' will be able to lead ‘Athirathram,' which is a 12-day affair. There are only two or three such ‘Somayajippads' in the State now. Puthillathu Ramanujan Somayajippad, who led a ‘Somayagam' in 2003, will be the ‘Yajamanan' of ‘Athirathram 2011,'” Thottathil Sivakaran Namboodiri said.
The village has been selected as it offered the facilities demanded by the ritual. These include traditional craftsmen who can make the clay and wooden utensils required. Also, the village is home to five “Samavedi” families.
Renowned historians such as Romila Thapar have observed that the ritualistic insistence of using only utensils made of clay and wood, even for cutting the “darbha” used in the “yaga,” suggested that it pre-date the invention of metals, Dr. Namboodiri said.
The elaborate rituals include the setting up of a five-layered venue in the shape of a bird using more than 1,000 specially designed bricks, with priests chanting mantras before placing each of them, all as followed since the Vedic period. The Yajurveda and Samaveda practices that precede “Athirathram” have begun at the Panjal Thottathil Mana and the Kavupra Maarath Mana.