Staff Reporter

With idols of gods, goddesses from three temples in Kanyakumari district

Nagercoil: Navarathri is one of the famous annual festivals celebrated in the Travancore Maharaja’s Palace during the first 10 days of the month of ‘Kanni’ (October) at Padmanabhapuram in the district.

After 972 (Malayalam era) the festival used to be celebrated alternatively at Thiruvananthapuram and Padmanabhapuram. However from 1015 (Malayalam era) onwards it was being celebrated in Thiruvananthapuram.

The festival commences with the bringing of the idols of Goddess Saraswathi from the Padmanabhapuram palace, Velayudha Perumal from Veli Malai Kumarakovil and Munnuttinanka from Suchindrum.

The idol of Saraswathy would be carried on the back of a caparisoned tusker, that of Velayudha Perumal on a decorated ‘silver horse’ and that of Munnuttinanka in a palanquin. The procession would reach Karamana, a part of Thiruvananthapuram, on the afternoon previous to the date of the commencement of the festival.

From there the procession would be on a grand scale and would enter the fort through the east gate and halted at the old Pakatasala gate of the palace, where offerings would be made. The descendent of the then Travancore state would worship the idol and retire after offering money.

The idol of Saraswathy would be alighted and taken inside the palace, while the procession would continue along the main road of the fort. The idol of Velayudha Perumal would be taken to the Aryasala temple and that of Munnuttinanaka to Chenthitta temple.

On the first day, at the auspicious moment, the idol of Saraswathi would be shifted to a room, at the southern end of the Chokkitta Mandapam and the formal ceremony of Pooja Vuippu or placing sacred granthas and weapons, including the Maharaja’s State sword at the foot of the image and poojas would be performed, which would be conducted by the Thanthri of Sri Padmanabhaswami temple. On all the nine days of the festival every evening the Chokkitta Manadapam would be decorated with garlands made of flower, arecanuts and limes and the premises would be beautifully illuminated.

Every evening a ‘kavadi’ decorated with garlands of flower would be taken on a procession around the Padmathirtham tank accompanied with music at the gate opposite to Chokkitta Mandapam.

Musical concerts

Through out the festival musical concerts and Parishad of Sanskrit scholars would be held in the palace. Musicians usually sing the Navarathri Prabandham and other kuthanams in praise of the Goddess composed by Swathi Thirunal Maharaja.

On the evening of the Vijayadasami day the descendent of the then Travancore state with all State paraphernalia would lead a procession to the Vijayamandapam opposite to the Vijayavilasam palace at Pujappura. The procession would move through the Chalai Bazaar, Antiyirakkam and Pujappura road to the front of the Vijayavilasam palace. The descendent would alight there, changing the dress and would proceed to the mandapam opposite, where the idol of Velayudha Perumal is placed. As soon as the elderly member from the family reaches the mandapam, the temple priest would take a bow and after shooting three arrows on an unhusked coconut, hands over the bow and the remaining arrows to the elderly persons.

The idols of Saraswathy and those of Velayudha Perumal and Munnuttinanka would then return from the Palace to the respective temples.

Warm welcome

People, all along the route, gave a warm welcome to the procession this year, which started on Tuesday amid a ten-member Kerala State Police Band, reciting songs.

Earlier, the Minister of Devasom Board (Kerala), Sudhakaran, handed over the sword (used by the then Kings of Travancore State) to the Joint Commissioner of Devasom (Tamil Nadu) to be taken to Thiruvananthapuram.

Reginald, MLA, president of Kanyakumari district Devasom Board Trust, Sreedar, president of Thevarakattu Saraswathy Amman Temple, Balakrishnan, secretary, Suresh Kumar, curator of the palace, Mohanan Nair and others participated in the function.