January 14th 2016 was Bhoghi Pongal. It is the first day of Pongal celebrations in Tamil-Nadu and is associated with bonfires. All old inflammable stuff is made into a bonfire. For Srivaishnavas it is the day of ‘Sitrum Siru Kale’. Andal and Her friends who observed ‘Margazhi-nonbu’ attain their goal namely-Krishna’s Feet. Their Saranagathi is fructified. In the morning Andal in Kanchi Varadaraja Perumal temple who has been blessing and mesmerising the residents of Vishnu Kanchi with Her Neeraatal Purappadus came on a golden palanquin. The residents of the Mada Veedhis who learnt that the purappadu could not come their way rushed to Sannidhi Street carrying ‘Manja Kothu’ along with their usual fruit trays. Newly sprouted turmeric along with the leaves are offered to Perumal in each house. In Kanchi they are sanctified by Andal. The turmeric leaves along with the rhizome are placed at Her Feet and given back as prasadam. These leaves are used for kanu-pidi on the third day of Pongal when sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers by offering turmeric rice on turmeric leaves.
After returning to temple the usual pasuram rendering took place near the four- legged mandapam. Ghata harathi and offerings were done at the Tondaradipodi entrance. As the palanquin reached the area infront of the kanadi-arai mandapam curtains were drawn and Andal was placed on Thollukuiniyan and taken to oonjal- mandapam where oonjal took place followed by theertha viniyogam. Then She went along Alavandar Tirchuttru to Thayar Sannidhi. It was a visual treat to see Andal facing Perundevi Thayar sannidhi. Theertham, Srisathari and prasada distribution took place. After this Andal was brought down and taken along Azhwar Tiruchuttru where bhattar swami offering turmeric sprouts at Bhaghavadh Ramanuja sannidhi. She reached swami Desikan sannidhi and was received by swami who offered saree along with turmeric sprouts. He was honoured with Andal’s garland. Tirumanjanam took place flanked by moolavars and utsavar swami Desikan seated near Her Tiruvadi. As She stood ready for Neeraatal one could understand why Swami Desikan called Her a creeper entwining Ranganatha. If Andal looked amazing in all Her finery She looked stunning during tirumanjanam. After tirumanjanam she wore the saree offered by swami Desikan and stood in readiness for the evening kalyana utsavam.
The following are the photos taken during the Utsavam:
Courtesy: Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan