Pomona Sri Ranganatha Temple Brahmotsavam: Day 8-10

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The 10-day Brahmotsavam at Sri Ranganatha Temple, Pomona, USA, concluded on July 6, 2014. The following is the write-up, photographs and videos taken on the last three days of the utsavam.

For previous day’s utsavam, please visit

For utsava pathrigai and details, please visit Pomona Sri Ranganatha Temple Brahmotsavam

Day 8

At Pomona Ranganatha temple where the annual Bramhotsavam was being celebrated from the 28th of June, July 4th was when Kalpakavriksha vahanam was scheduled in the morning and Vedupari utsavam and Tirukalyana utsavam for the evening. Since we wanted to be part of both events we left our residence at Hermitage, Pensylvannia at 4.30 a.m. It took us about 7 hours to reach our destination. Srivaishnavas in swaroopam with sparkling Tirumans, many sporting twelve (dwadasha tirumans) were busy allocating parking spaces, involved in kainkaryams of different kinds as if a family wedding was on. Near the dwajasthambam SriVaishnavas were carrying a palanquin  and we were told that the Baliharanam ceremony was on and Chakrathazhwar was inside the palanquin. We went to the basement to freshen up and to get into swaroopam. We saw so many young ladies maybe in their twenties beautifully attired in traditional  nine-yards and men in panchakaccham. We made our way out and saw Perumal being carried on a palanquin. Actually it was to be Kalpakavriksha vahana seva that morning but since rain was predicted  the seva was rescheduled for the 5th. The nadhaswaram players led the procession followed by the Divya prabhandham ghosti. A devotee was carefully holding the deepam for Perumal. The two white umbrellas were prominently visible and as the purappadu moved in pradakshinam we noticed beautifully painted kolams on the way. The lush green trees on the way seemed to bow their heads in reverence as the  king of the universe made His rounds. The purappadu was completed before the rain started and Perumal was reverentially placed inside the beautiful mandpam of silver inside.

The curtains were drawn and while preparations were on for the tirumanjanam we went to the basement.  In the auditorium children of Balarangam (this is a program conducted for children in sampradhaya at the temple) were reciting verses from Srimadh Bhaghavadh Geetha with correct pronunciation.This was followed by classical dances etc. Everyone was waiting to welcome the artiste of the day Sri Kovai Jayaraman. At the adjoining dining area tables were full of devotees enjoying prasadam while others waited in the que to get three kinds of prasadam being served lovingly by volunteers. Those in swaroopam (traditional attire) could go to the room adjoining the Tirumadapalli. We went inside and had rice, morkuzhambu, vegetables, sathumadhu, sambarsaadam, curds, payasam etc. Each item was tasty and prepared with quality ingredients. Prasadam is served from 9.00am to 9.00pm.  After lunch we enjoyed the participative bhajan session of Kovai Jayaraman and his troupe who enchanted the audience with their soul-stirring performance.

Preparations were on for the evening Vedupari utsavam and kalyanotsavam upstairs. We noticed that the curtains were drawn and alankaram was in progress. Outside a few young ladies in swaroopam were cutting velvet pieces and stitching on series of rakodis on them at intervals. Then they put rounds of jasmine or kanakambaram(orange) around the rakodis. They were preparing jadai alankaram (ornaments for the tresse). The nadhaswaram players were ready and everyone enjoyed the nadhaswaram notes of ” Vara Veena” played by a young girl maybe about 12 .She later on played the mridangam with her brother. The duo received a big applause from the devotees seated around. Adjacent to Andal sannidhi was a huge horse vahanam of gold. We learnt that this was “Adal Ma “Tirumangai mannan’s  super horse and that was the day he would be laying hands on the biggest booty ever. There was a small horse vahanam and everything kids size for the children who carried their Perumal and Thayar lovingly and were part of all ceremonies. After nitya homam and Baliharanam were over devotees emerged forth carrying the mounted horse on which was seated Tirumangaimannan. After leaving Tirumangaiazhwar at the crossroads the sripadamthangis returned to the sanctum sanctorum to carry the bridegroom (AzhagiaManavalan) and the brides (ubhayanachimars) for the garland exchanging ceremony to be done near the dwajhasthambham. There was a tussle between the bearers of the groom and the bride. Thayar’s carriers would not budge an inch and wanted Perumal to come forward first. This took a really long time and ultimately Perumal had to step forward first and the priests enjoying the whole scene came dancing  carrying beautiful garlands on their heads. Garland exchange over,  the Divya Dampathis in all their bridal finery proceeded on their way. As they turned right the wayfarer Tirumangai Mannan attacked .There was a devotee dressed as a dacoit asking everyone to surrender their belongings. But it was the dacoit who had to surrender. Having robbed Perumal of everything Tirumangai bent to get the toe-rings whence he discovered the treasure of treasures “Narayana nama.”  As the goshti recited Vaadinen Vaadi everone felt that they were the recepients of Divine Grace and made their way inside for the Divine wedding. The day was Friday and the nakshatram Utthira Phalguni (Aani Uthiram). Inside the silver mandapam were Perumal, the ubhaya nachimars, Ranganayaki Thayar and Andal. The wedding was done Yatha-Vidhi with Mangalya dharanam  et al and concluded with the rolling of coconuts to the recital of Andal’s” Varanamayiram”.  Huge ladoos, vadas and murukkus were offered along with tamboolam and fruits. After this we stayed for Perumal’s sayanam. The recital of Kulasekharazhwar’s “Ksheerasagara Taranga Sheekara ” was done softly and as the curtains were drawn we returned home full of contentment By this time it was past midnight. The enthusiasm of the devotees, the shraddha (sincerity) of the chief priest (Paravasthu Raghavan swami), the total involvement of the kainkarya paras and their families, the sumukha Madapalli kainkaryaparas and the continuous kainkaryam of volunteers left us simply overwhelmed.  Next morning was the Rathotsavam and the ratham (Ther) had been assembled by so many voluteers.

Day 9

July 5th morning we reached the temple at about 10.00 a.m.for the TiruTher or Rathotsavam. The whole place was buzzing with activity. There is a tall structure infront of the temple in which the chariot is kept when not in use. It was in the year 2009 that a single devotee offered $100,000 for the chariot. It is a beautiful piece of work but what attracted more attention was the chariot for the kids .Little boys in tiruman and veshtis and girls in different  coloured pavadais were inspecting their Perumal’s alankaram and giving finishing touches to their  chariot decorations.The long rope (vadam ) was lying in readiness to be pulled.  After nitya homam the spire and golden umbrella were fixed at the top of the chariot by the priest who came to the spot on a lift along with other priests and devotees. Both the umbrella and spire were first worshipped at the yagya spot and taken in procession around the temple with all temple honours like umbrella, chamaram etc.  After Sudarshanaazhwar had made His rounds for Baliharanam, Perumal with the ubhayanachimars were brought to ascend the chariot.  The Divya Prabhandham goshti recited Tiruvezhu kuttruirrukai of Tirumangaiazhwar, followed by Siriya Tirumadal and devotees started pulling the chariot to the sounds of “Govinda! Gopala”!  The kid’s chariot moved and was followed by the big one. ISCKON devotees had gathered to offer namasankirthan and the sounds of “Jay Ranganath! Jay Ranganath! “reverberated in the air. Perumal with His Shenkol (The golden rod He carries) flanked by  ubhaya nachimars looked stunning in the colorful alankaram and ornaments with the flower garlands tastefully blending to enhance His Soundaryam. Actually the flowers, ornaments and vastram looked beautiful as they were on Him.  Once the chariot round was completed everyone clapped and  some said “Jaya Vijayee Bhava Rangaraja”!   After coming back to aasthanam Tirumanjanam was done for Perumal. Devotees went to have sumptuous prasadam comprising of several Chitrannams, akaravadisal, vegetable preparations and the like. We all have heard about Draupadhi’s akshayapatram but one can figure out what it would have been like on seeing the non-stop prasadha distribution at the Pomona temple. This aspect adiyen feels pleases Mukkur Azhagiyasingar’s tiruvallam the most. 44th Srimadh Azhaghiyasingar  the architect of SriRangam Rajagopuram envisaged this temple for SriRanganatha and it is His Hastha Vishesham that is responsible for the presence of this temple.

In the evening we came back for the Karpaghavriksha vahanam. Under the wish-fulfilling tree sat Ranganatha clad in green silk seated with a pot of butter. He was in vennai thazhi alankaram and mesmerised everyone. The kapakavriksham is a wish-fulfilling tree of devaloka but when we have the kalpaka who gives Himself to us need we make any wishes? With Lakshmi as our mother and Vasudeva as our father we can be worry free as they are there with us Always.  It was with this feeling that we went home. Next day was Chakrasnanam but we had to leave that morning. We went to take leave of Perumal, Thayar and the  Srivaishnavas who showered us with their affection and made us feel part of them . The previous day a devotee told us he had bought 1400 jasmines grown in his garden for the Pushpa yaagam. The madapalli swamis packed up prasadam for our journey and we parted with everyone reluctantly.  We left as the Baliharanam was over and Perumal with Ubhya Nachimars ready for Chakrasnanam  and saw devotees filling the tank with water for the chakrasnanam.  All the way back home we were remembering the happenings at the temple and praying that Ranga Sri should grow more and more.

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

Day 8

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Day 9

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Day 10

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Write-up, photographs and video by Vyjayanthi and Sundararajan

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