Friday, April 22, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Nammalvar Shrine

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Nammalvar Shrine
A shrine is dedicated to Nammalvar in Ranganathaswamy Temple. Nammalvar was one of the twelve Alvar poet-saints who immersed themselves in a love of Vishnu and who had a considerable knowledge of ancient Tamil literature and its variants of traditional stories concerning Vishnu and his associates, as well as the philosophical differences between BuddhismHinduism and Jainism.
Pagal Pathu (10 day time) and Ra Pathu (10 day night time) festival are celebrated in the month of Margali (December–January) for twenty days in Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam. The first ten days are referred as Pagal-Pathu (10 day night festival) and the second half as Ra Pathu (10 day day-time festival).
The first day of Ra Pathu is Vaikunta Ekadashi. The eleventh day of each fortnight in Tamil calendar is called Ekadesi and the holiest of all ekadesis in the Vaishnava tradition is the Vaikunta Ekadashi. Nammalvar, one of the 12 Alwars, is believed to have ascended to Vaikuntam (the heavenly abode of Vishnu) on this day. The devotion of the 9th-century poet, Nammalvar, and his perceived ascent to heaven is enacted annually.
During the festival, through song and dance, this place is affirmed to be Bhoologa Vaikunta (heaven on earth). Araiyar Sevai is a divine colloquium of Araiyars, who recite and enact Naalayira Divya Prabandam, the 4000 verses of Alwars (Vaishnavite poets of the 7th–10th century). Araiyars are born to Araiyar tradition most prevalent in Sri Vaishnava families in Srirangam, Alwar Thirunagari and Srivilliputhur
The tradition of Araiyar Sevai was started by Nathamuni, a 10th-century Vaishnavite who compiled the works of Alwars. It is believed as per Hindu mythology that 330 million demi-gods came down to witness the event. The festival deity is brought to the 1000-pillared hall on the morning of Vaikunta Ekadashi through the Paramapada Vasal (gate to paradise).
Lakhs of pilgrims rush to enter it after the gate is opened and the deity passes through it as it is believed that one who enters here will reach Vaikuntam (heaven) after death. The gate is open only during the ten days of Pagal Pathu (10 day day-time festival). On the last day of the festival, the poet Nammalvar is said to be given salvation.
The performance is enacted by priests and an image in the temple depicts Nammalvar as reaching heaven and getting liberation from the cycle of life and death. At that point, a member from the crowd of devotees, who are witnessing this passion play, goes up to the center stage and requests Vishnu to return Nammalvar to humanity, so that his words and form in the temple will continue to inspire and save the devotees. Following this performance of the salvation of Nammalvar, the cantors are taken in procession round the temple.