Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram – Religious Practices & Festivals

Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram – Religious Practices & Festivals
Religious Practices:
The temple priest perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaivite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 8:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m.
Each ritual comprises four steps: abhishekam (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), Naivedyam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for the pedestal of Ekambareswarar. Since it is a Lingam made of sand mound, all the ablution is done only to the pedestal. The worship is held amidst music with Nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.
The temple celebrates dozens of festivals throughout the year. Thai Poosam (January-February), Shivarathri Festival (February-March), Panguni Uthiram (March-April), Vaikasi Visakam (May-June), Ani Thirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Krithikai (July-August), Aadippooram Festival (July-August), Avani Moolam (August - September), Vinayaka Chathurthi festival (August-September), Navaratri Festival (September-October), Diwali Festival (October-November) and Tirukarthikai (November-December) are the festivals celebrated here with much fanfare.
Panguni Uthiram Festival is one of the biggest and grandest festivals celebrated in this temple. The Panguni festival lasts for 13 days and it is during this festival that the wedding of the presiding deity is celebrated, and the venerated Tamil poems of the Nayanmars (Thirumurais) are sung in great splendor. The festival is the most popular of all the temple festivals in Kanchipuram. There are various processions during the ten days with the festive images of presiding deities of the temple carried in various mounts around the streets of the temple.
During the fifth day, Ekambareswarar is carried silver mount Nandi during the morning and Ravaneswara Vahanam during the evening. The 63 Nayanmars are taken in procession the sixth day morning, while Ekambareswarar is carried on Silver car festival in the evening. Silver Mavadi Seva is performed on the ninth day. On the concluding day, Kalyanotsavam (marriage festival) is held when the marriage of Ekambareswarar is enacted. During the day, many unmarried people get married irrespective of their caste along with the deity. The event is witnessed by thousands of people every year.
There are weekly rituals like Somavaram and Sukravaram, fortnightly rituals like Pradosham and monthly festivals like Amaavaasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai or on Krittika Nakshatram, Pournami (full moon day) and Chaturthi. The devotee crowd is also huge on Tamil and English New Year days.