Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple – Religious Practices & Festivals

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple – Religious Practices & Festivals
Religious Practices:
The temple priests perform the Pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. Each ritual has three steps: alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Vatapatrasayi and Andal. During the last step of worship, Nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple.
Festivals:
Annual festivals are celebrated in the months of Aadi and Margazhi and Purattasi.
Aadi Pooram:
Thousands of people from the state participate in the Aadi Pooram festival celebrated in the Andal Temple. After early morning special pujas, the presiding deities, Ranga Mannar and Goddess Andal are taken in decorated palanquins to the car. The festival marks the adoption of presiding deity, Andal, by Periyazhwar after he found her near a Tulsi plant in the garden of Vatapatrasayi Temple at Srivilliputhur on the eighth day of the Tamil month of Adi.
During the Chitra festival in Madurai, Kallazhagar (of Azhagar Koil) makes an important stop at Thalakulam Perumal Koil to collect the garland sent by Aandal of Srivilliputhur. Only after wearing the garland, does Azhagar get into the Vaigai River. During the Aadi Thiruvadi Pooram festival, marking the birthday of Aandal, Lord Azhagar of Thiru Maalirun Cholai sends his attire to Srivilliputhur as a return gesture to her.
5 Garuda Sevas:
On the birth day of Aandal in the Tamil Calendar month of Aadi, one witnesses 5 Garuda Sevas - Venkatachalapathi, Thiruthangal Appan, Vadabadrasayee, Ranga Mannar and Kaatu Azhagar Sundararajan.
Araiyar Sevai:
A big attraction at the Srivilliputhur temple is the Araiyar Sevai, the visual song and dance enactment of the Paasurams (4000 Divya Prabandham verses) that has been performed at Divya Desams for over 1000 years. Srivilliputhur remains one of the three Divya Desams in Tamil Nadu where Araiyar Sevai is still being performed, the other two being Srirangam and Azhwar Thiru Nagari (near Tirunelveli). The famed Araiyar Sevai is said to have originated from Thirukkurungudi, the Divya Desam about 40 Kms from Tirunelveli.
Legend has it that the Lord used to listen to Araiyar’s Abhinayam hiding behind a wall in Bashyam Street (South Mada Street). Araiyars (King of Music) are descendants of Nathamuni, who is believed to have introduced the Araiyar Sevai. It is believed that Lord Ranganatha himself gave the Araiyars the right to perform the unique musical chanting at the temples and presented them with the cone-like red cap, two cymbals and the sacred garland (which they wear around their neck when they perform).
The Araiyars first recite the Paasuram, then explain its inner meaning and finally perform the Abhinayam, a unique art/dance performance with their hands and legs explaining the Paasurams with special musical effect. This special explanation (Vyakyaanam) requires a deep knowledge and understanding of the Paasurams and its inner meaning. It is not an easy art, as can be seen from the fact that it takes one nearly 20 years to learn and perfect the Abhinayam.
One of the Araiyar Sevai occasions that is of particular significance is during Vaikunda Ekadasi - The Paghal Pathu (10 days) and the Era Pathu (10 Nights) – when one is treated to a real spectacle with the Araiyars enacting the Story of Andal growing into a young beautiful girl through their Abhinayam.
Panguni Uthiram:
Sri Andal's Kalyana Utsavam is celebrated during Panguni Uthiram, one of the specialised Utsavam of this temple.

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