Kaisika Ekadasi Utsavam At Thirukurungudi Divya Desam

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This year’s Kaisika Ekadasi and Dwadasi were celebrated at all Vaishanava Temples on December 13th and 14th, 2013 respectively. Kaisika Ekadasi Utsavam is very special at Thirukurungudi Sri Azhagiya Nambi Temple every year. Thirukurungudi is about 30 km from Tirunelveli or 15 km from Nanguneri in Tamil Nadu. The following is an article on the importance of Kaisika Ekadasi and its uniqueness at Thirukurungudi Temple.

Sukla Paksha Ekadasi (11th day after Amavasya) in the month of “Karthigai” is called as the Kaisika Ekadasi. Long long ago, a devotee of Lord Azhagiya Nambi of Thirukurungudi, by name “Nam Paaduvaan” used to sing devotional songs on his Veenai on the above Lord, standing away from but facing the Thirukurungudi Temple as he belonged to a low caste and at those times, he was not able to go into the Temple. “Kaisika” is actually a “pan” (like a Raagam) in which Nam Paaduvaan used to sing the devotional songs offering his prayers to Lord Azhagiya Nambi in the early mornings. The story goes like this. On a Sukla Paksha Ekadasi in the Kartigai month, when he was crossing a forest area on his way to the usual place where he used to stand and sing in praise of the Lord Azhagiya Nambi, a “Brahma Raakshas” got hold of Nam Paaduvaan and wanted to kill him and eat his flesh as the Raakshas was very hungry. Nam Paaduvan told the Raakshas that he was not interested in his body and he would very much like to be of food to the Raakshas but the only request he made was that he would go near the Temple, finish his singing in praise of Lord Azhagiya Nambi as it was the auspicious Ekadasi day and return back to the Raakshas so that it could eat him. But the Raakshas did not believe that Nam Paaduvaan would return back and it did not allow him to proceed to the Temple. Then Nam Paaduvaan lists 17 Paapams/Sins which he might get if he did not return as promised. But the Raakshas did not get convinced. Lastly as the 18th Sin, Nam Paaduvaan stated that he would get the sin of considering Sriman Naaraayana as equal to any other Deity, if he did not keep up his promise. On hearing this, Raakshas released Nam Paaduvaan who then reached the Temple, finished his prayers by singing the devotional songs on Lord Azhagiya Nambi in the “Kaisika Pann” on his Veenai and returned back to the Raakshas, thanking it for allowing him to finish his prayers and asking it to eat him. But the Raakshas wanted at least a small portion of Nam Paaduvaan’s Punyam he got from singing in the Kaisika Pann for which he firstly refused as he promised to offer his body only to the Raakshas and not any Punyam and that he would not go back on his words in any manner. But after sympathetic requests from the Raakshas he agreed to give a portion of his punyam and the Raakshas got redeemed and became the original Brahmin by name Soma Sarma who earlier got cursed to become the Raakshas as he pronounced the Vedic Mantraas wrongly. The Story further goes that thereafter with the Grace of the Lord of Thirukurungudi, both Nam Paaduvaan and Soma Sarma got the Parama Padam. This is the gist of Nam Paaduvan Charitram in Sri Varaaha Puraanam which is called as the Kaisika Mahaatmiyam and since this had happened on the Sukla Paksha Kaartigai Ekadasi day, this Ekadasi is called as the Kaisika Ekadasi.

After Lord Vishnu’s Sri Varaahaavataaram, Bhoomi Piraatti says to Sri Varaahar that while She is very happy that She has been saved, She requests the Lord to give an Upaayam to Her children (ie. We Mankind) who are immersed in Samsaara so that they can also follow the same and reach Him / Sri Vaikuntam. In reply, Lord Varaahar quotes this Nam Paaduvaan Charitram to Sri Bhooma Piraatti and gives an assurance that whoever sincerely prays to Him thro the three Karanams viz., Body, Mind and Speech, with His Blessings, they will cross over the ocean of Samsaara.  Sri Bhoomi Piraatti propagates this Upaayam only, in Her Avataaram as Sri Aandaal and in Her Thiruppavai. That is why we find in so many verses in Thiruppavai, the importance of singing in praise of the Lord of all Lords viz., Sriman Naaraayanaa.

Uniqueness of Kaisika Ekadasi at Thirunkurungudi Temple:

In all Vaishava Temples, on the Kaisika Ekadasi day, the Priests read this Kaisika Mahaatyam and its commentary by Sri Parasara Bhattar Swami. But at the Thirukurungudi Temple, this Nam Paaduvaan Charitram is actually being acted as a Drama in front of Lord Azhagiya Nambi Himself. Other details of 2013 Kaisika Ekadasi program at the Thirukurungudi Temple are as under:

  1. A well trained artists’ troupe performed wonderfully the Nam Paaduvaan Charitra Drama. The Troupe included Musicians, players of Veena, Flute and Mridangam.
  2. The entire Drama continued for about 5 hours from 9.30 pm on December 13, 2013 till 2.30 am on December 14, 2013 at a stage in front of the Kaisika Mantapam on the left side of the main Sannidhi. It is learnt that Ms. Anita Ratnam of TVS Family has been professionally organising the Drama every year and she is also the Program Choreographer. Prior to this, children conducted the play of Nambaduvan from 7 pm to 9 pm.
  3. At about 8.30 pm, Lord Azaghiya Nambi (Utsavar) with Ubaya Naachimaargals were taken in procession around the Prakaaram and arrived at the sprawling Kaisika Mantapam.
  4. HH Sri Thirukurungudi Jeeyar, who controls the Temple administration also, led the Ghoshti during the Purappadu. Earlier, Perumal Teertham and Srisatari were given to the Jeeyar and others in the Ghoshti.
  5. The Nam Paaduvaan Charitra Drama started at about 9.30 pm with Invocation and Prayer Songs.
  6. It is learnt that the person who plays the role of the “Brahma Raakshas”, is used to take a Vratam (vow) for about 41 days during which period, he stays in the Temple itself and does Pooja to the Raakshas Mask. At about 10.30 pm on the Kaisika Ekadasi day, after finishing his Vratam, he wears that Raakshas Mask and it is said that he immediately becomes violent, jumping and moving fast and he is led to the Kaisika Mantapam and brought in front of Lord Azhagiya Nambi. When Perumal Teertham is given, he becomes silent and he authorizes the  artists who are actually going to play the role of the Brahma Raakshas.
  7. During the course of the entire drama, there were lot of singing of Slokas, speeches and actions  from and relevant to the Kaisika Mahatmiyam by the performing artists. The commentaries by Sri Paraasara Bhattar were also recited by the artists at the appropriate times. Local School childrens too performed Kolattam in tune with the Bhajan songs.
  8. Drama scenes portraying the various Avataras of Lord Vishnu, the Lord on the Garuda Vahanam etc., were really very imaginative and excellent. On the whole, the entire drama episode was well performed, receiving applauses and congratulations from the devotees numbering more than 500, who were witnessing the drama.

At about 2.30 am on December 14, 2013, after completion of the above drama, there was chanting of Prabhandams etc., by the Sri Vaishnava Ghoshti led by the Jeeyar. Araiyar Sevai and Abhinayam for a few Paasurams were also excellent. Teertham, Srisataari were given to all the devotees who assembled in large numbers inside the Kaisika Mantapam. Immediately at about 4.15 a.m, recitation of the exact Kaisika Mahatmiyam/Varaaha Puraanam started and completed at about 5.30 am.

Thereafter by 7.30 am, there was Viswaroopam to the Lord Azhagiya Nambi at the Kaisika Mantapam followed by Ghoshti chanting and distribution of Teertham, Srisataari, Thulasi, Manjal Kaappu and Prasadams viz., Sakkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal. HH Sriperumbudur Jeeyar Swami was also present.

After Thirumanjanam in the afternoon and Garuda Sevai in the night, the unique Kaisika Ekadasi Utsavam at the famous Thirukurungudi Temple came to an end, with the Lord Azhagiya Nambi Blessing all the Devotees assembled.

The following are some of the photographs taken on the occasion…

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How to reach Thirukurungudi:

Thirukurungudi can be reached very easily from Tirunelveli. There are lot of buses plying from Tirunelveli to Tirukkurungudi. From Nanguneri (also called Vanamamalai), Thirukurungudi is just 15 km. If one comes by Train from Chennai, there are Trains straight to Valliyur. From Valliyur, Thirukurungudi is just 2 or 3 km only and can be reached even by an Auto. Regarding stay at Thirukurungudi, Sri Ahobila Mutt which has about 10 rooms will be convenient for stay. They charge Rs 300 per day. But one has to book the room at least one month in advance for this Kaisika Ekadasi Utsavam.

Write-up Courtesy: Sri S. Krishnan

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