Vaikunta Ekadasi can be termed as the middle point of ‘TiruAdhyayana Utsavam.’ Prior to this we have ‘Pagal Pathu Utsavam’ for ten days. Vaikunta Ekadashi is the 11th day of the utsavam or the first day of ‘Ira-Pathu Utsavam’. At Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal the ‘Pagal-pathu Utsavam’ takes place right infront of Varadaraja Perumal’s sanctum sanctorum on the Atthigiri Mount. All Azhwars and acharyas are assembled together and the utsavam takes place at about 1.00p.m and culminates at about 3.00.p.m. Maryadhai is accorded to all azhwars and acharyas and then we have Perumal-theertham, Srisathari and prasada viniyogam. As one enters the temple precincts during this period the whole place reverberates with the holy notes of Azhwars divyasukthis and it is a blessing to present there during this period. If there is any azhwar/acharya tirunakshatram during this period he is taken in purappadu and brought back to the sanctum.
On Dasami the day of ‘Pagal-Pathu Sattrumurai’ the highlight is the Dasami Malai”. It refers to the flower alamkaram done to Varadaraja Perumal, Thayar, Nrisimhan and Chakrathazhwar. Perumal’s Tirumeni is covered from Crown to Feet with flowers arranged aesthetically. It seemed as if each flower wanted to be part of the Adornment. Really thick garlands hung at the perip heryfollowed by various others and there were malars (rounded garlands) circling ornaments and giving a kind of button-like effect. The crowd was huge and devotees flocked to have darshan of this beautiful alankaram.
On Vaikunta Ekadashi day Utsavamurthi Varadaraja adorned the beautiful Ratnangi bewitching everybody. Incidentally during Margazhi till about 8.30a.m. Utsavamurthi is dressed up in winter garments – a robe of velvet with matching cap and the day’s Tiruppavai Pasuram emroidered on the velvet belt. In the days gone-by when letters were the means of communication it was a practice to write the starting words of the day’s pasuram at the top during Margazhi (a letter written on the third day of Margazhi would have “Oongi ulagalandha” written at the top). Today with His Ratnangi Varadan’s belt spelt “Maayanai”.
At about 1.00p.m. Varadan descended the Hasthigiri Hill clad in Ratnangi(gem studded dress) and reached the ‘kanadi-arai mandapam’. There was Ekadashi Tirumanjanam at the “Kanadi-Arai Mandapam”. At the start Varadan and His consorts adorned pink flower-garlands which were changed to white jasmines, then afterwards to yellow samanthis and later on to redrose garlands, But undobtedly the most captivating was when after gently sprinkling sandal-paste all over thick Tulasi garlands were wound around His Crown and around His Neck. The sahasradhara tirumanjanam, the kattiyam, the sonorous notes of the Vedas and the chorus of “Govinda” filled the air. With intermittent offering of Harathis and the deft changing to beautiful dry vastram it was time to accept Perumal-theertham and SriSathari and thank Him for making us be present in Kanchipuram on this holy Vaikunta-ekadashi day.
In the evening at 6.00p.m. Varadan left in purappadu and did the rounds of Sannidhi Street and all four Mada Veedhis. He seemed to be enquiring about the well-being of all the residents. The old and infirm as also the roadside hawkers and visiting pilgrims felt blessed when The King of The Universe came knocking at their doorstep led by the Dravida Veda Goshti and followed by the Veda Parayana Goshti. After returning to the temple He would chair the first day of ‘Ira Pathu ‘ along with azhwars, acharyas and bhakthas.
The following are the photos taken during the Utsavam:
Courtesy: Sri Elangadu Ranganatha Chakravarthy, Write-up: Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan