June 1st 2015 was the Day of days-the day of Varadan’s Garuda sevai. We assembled before the vahana mandapam listening and enjoying the music being played on different instruments. As the cracker was burst everyone waited with bated breath to behold Garuda carrying His Lord. Garuthman is Vedaswaroopi and Perumal declares that He does what the Vedas dictate. The beautiful Garuda oozes satwikness and majesty. The eyes are merciful and he is a picture of humility. Devotees who managed to climb the mandapam got blessed by Srisathari. Varadaraja Perumal was clad in a pink silk veshti with green zari border and wore dazzling jewellery. Garudazhwar wore yellow silk and garlands of yellow and orange. With stretched palms for His Master’s Feet he emerged from the vahana mandapam after a shake and went in pradakshinam stopping at the sannidhis of Nammazhwar and Swami Desikan. That day happened to be Nammazhwar’s tirunakshatram .
As Perumal emerged out of the temple entrance Doddachariar sevai happened. Doddachariar a resident of Sholingapuram could not attend Garuda sevai one year due to physical disability. Perumal disappeared behind the umbrellas and gave him darshan on the banks of thakkan kulam in Sholingapuram. This happened about 400 years back but is commemmorated till date on the day of Garuda sevai. With the teeming crowds of drummers, musicians, and devotees of all ages with plates of offerings and flower balls being aimed at Perumal it was a virtual sea of humanity. The police patrol too could not stop gazing at Perumal. We decided to follow Him to Thoopul. The walk was wonderful. Lights from the camphor seemed as if the stars had descended to pay their respects to The Lord of The Universe. Endless devotees stood with their powdered jaggery, nuts and sugar candy and happily gave the prasadam to those who accepted. Besides food packets, butter-milk, water were distributed. The nuts and sugar candy helped sustain the walk.
When we reached Thoopul the avatharasthalam of swami Desikan Perumal stopped before his sannidhi and His garland was sent inside to adorn swami. When it came back arachakar swamis deftly put it on Varadan and tied it up with coloured strings. When Perumal left and the crowds diffused we went inside the sannidhi and had darshan of our Kavitarikka simhan who was all decked up with prabhandhasara haram and other ornaments to meet His Beloved Varadan. After having darshan of Villakkoli Perumal and Maragathavalli Thayar, we had a blessed sight at the Anushtana kulam. So many many Srivaishnavas were doing their sandhya vandhanam there showing that anushtanam is of utmost importance.
We took an auto back to sannidhi street and were fortunate to receive Srisathari at Sri Ahobila Muth from the divine hands of Srimadh Azhagiasingar. After resting for some time we proceeded by auto towards a mandapam opposite a Shiva temple. As we followed Perumal at one spot our friend took us near Perumal to offer our plate and we were blessed with Srisathari and came out from under Him. This was a thrilling experience and we got to see ‘kudai poduthal’ at the mandapam several times. Kanchipuram is famous for its umbrellas. Perumal is always offered two umbrellas. At the entrance He is offered one umbrella. When He reaches the 16 pillared mandapam the other umbrella is propped above it but the two umbrellas do not touch each other. This is called ‘kudai poduthal’ and is done very deftly. ‘Kudai, Vadai, Nadai’ goes the adage. Kanchipuram kudai, Tirupathi vadai and Srirangam nadai are unparalleled. We then proceeded to our room took rest and went down again to offer our dandavath pranams to Varadan, the Vedaparayana and divyaprabhandha goshti and to the srivaishnavas gathered in Kanchipuram to enjoy the wonderful Garuda Sevai wishing to be there next year and in the years to come.
These is the video and some of the photos taken during the occasion..
Courtesy : Sri Elangadu Ranganathan Chakravarthy, Smt Vyjayanthi & Sundararajan