Namperumal makes his annual trip to Uraiyur Divyadesam across the River Cauvery. Uraiyur is the Only DivyadDesam where Nachiyar is seen facing the North.
Panguni Uthiram is the only day in the year when the divine couple of Srirangam come together. Debate between Namperumal and Ranganayaki Thayar is one of the highlights of the festival. Ramanuja composed Gadhya Thraya on Panguni Uthiram in front of the Serthi Mandapam.
On March 23rd 2016, Panguni Uthiram Serthi Sevai was celebrated in a grand manner at Srirangam. Thousands of devotees thronged to have dharshan of Divyadampathis in the Serthi Sevai Utsavam and received the blessings.
The following are the photos taken during the Utsavam:
Courtesy: Sri Vijay Vibhav, Sri Bharath Rangarajan
The history of Uraiyur
Uraiyur was the first capital of the Chozhas and is also the birth place of Thiruppaan Azhwar, who composed 10 famous verses on Lord Ranganatha called ‘Amalanaathipiraan’ in which he showered the highest praise for the Lord of Srirangam.
Uraiyur relates to the celestial love story of young Kamalavalli and her wedlock with Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam.
Legend has it that, pleased with the prayers of Chola king Nanda Chozhan, who was childless, Lord Ranganatha asks Goddess Lakshmi to be born as the King’s daughter at Uraiyur and promises to marry her at an appropriate time. Being born out of the Lotus, she is named Kamalavalli. Time comes when the Chola King decides to get his daughter married and he readily agrees when he realises that Kamalavalli has fallen in love with Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, the one who had blessed him with progeny. Giving in to the king’s prayers, the Lord agrees to marry Kamalavalli Nachiyar.
Delighted, Nanda Chozhan builds the temple at Uraiyur to celebrate the ‘Home Coming’ of Lord Ranganatha. A unique feature of the temple is that this is the only Divyadesam, where the Goddess is facing the Northern direction, (in this case facing the Ranganatha temple, Srirangam, which is North of Uraiyur).
This event is enacted every year during the Tamil month of Panguni when devotees can have darshan of Namperumal with Kamalavalli Nachiyar at the Uraiyur temple.
It is a 7 hour trip across the Cauvery river and the Lord starts early at 4 AM in a big hurry to take part in His annual KalyANa Utsavam with UraiUr NaacchiyAr. He will wed His Devi, present His signature ring (KaNayAzhi) to His NaacchiyAr and will be with Her at the Serthi AastAna Mantapam. Together the newly wedded couple will bless all their devotees, who have assembled at Uraiyur.
He will travel back to Srirangam around midnight and get back to His AastAnam at Srirangam quietly.
Perturbed by the sudden disappearance of Her Lord from Her side, Sri RanganAyaki will send out Her ladies-in-waiting to find out where Her Lord went in such a great haste. They report back that Sri Ranganathan spent the day at UrayUr visiting His beloved NaacchiyAr there and had presented His own ring to Her. Sri Ranganayaki gets angry over this dalliance of Her Lord and waits for a couple of days until Her birthday (Panguni Uttiram) for Her Lord to come to Her sannidhi to be with Her as if nothing had happened.
On the 7th day of the Utsavam, Sri RanganAthan will have an evening PuRappAdu with His Ubhaya NaacchiyArs after resting up during the day after the previous night’s elaborate wedding celebrations and conjugal union with UrayUr NaacchiyAr. On the 8th day of the Utsavam, Our Lord will visit Yellaikkarai Mantapam and enjoy thereafter His kONal VyaaLi on His golden horse.
New ring for Ranganayaki
The episode leading to the buying of a new ring for Ranganayaki Thayar goes thus: On the 9th day, it is Panguni Uttiram day and PourNami titi. Lord Ranganatha decides to visit His Principal Devi to bless Her on Her birth day and be with Her to enjoy Her company. He has no idea as to what is waiting for Him at Sri RanganAyaki’s sannidhi. After starting on His journey to His Devi’s Sannidhi, He remembers about the gem-studded golden ring that He had left behind at UraiyUr. He decides to collect some funds from His bhakthAs to purchase another ring. He travels through Chittirai and Utthira Veedhis to assemble the needed funds to buy another ring, wear it and escape the wrath of Sri RanganAyaki.
After over three hours, Namperumal reaches the Thayar Sannidhi. As if waiting for a chance, Ranganayaki shuts the door refusing Him entry into the Sannidhi. The Lord’s repeated attempts to move into the sannidhi fail. To top it all, He is even pelted with butter and fruits from the other side.
A war of words ensues between the two with the Lord trying his best to convince Thayar of his commitment to her. During the 90-minute debate, which was one of the biggest highlights of Panguni Uthiram festival, the Araiyars , represented Namperumal (waiting outside the entrance of the Thaayar Sannidhi) and PandAris/ KaimkaryaparALs represents Thayar.
After an intense debate, with Namperumal trying unsuccessfully to convince Thayar, Nammazhwar, who had been closely watching the drama, intervenes and advises the Goddess to accept the Lord once again. Immediately, accepting this directive, Ranganayaki relents – “Lord, I accept you as directed by Nammazhwar. Please come in.”
This heated debate between the two and the way it ends, with Thayar accepting the Lord again, showcases to the world the beautiful relationship between a husband and a wife.
Following the debate, Namperumal enters the Thayar Sannidhi and for almost 10 hours, the divine couple give darshan to the devotees at the Serthi Mandapam. Thousands of devotees thronge to the temple to worship the Serthi Darshan.
This is the only occasion in the year when Lord Ranganatha and Goddess Ranganayaki are seen together and hence this is a very sacred occasion. Belief is that a visit to the Srirangam temple on this day for the ‘Serthi Seva’ will relieve one of all sins.
‘Chinna Perumal’s night procession to Coloroon
As per the tradition at the Srirangam temple, ‘Chinna Perumal’ (Selvar), who is seen alongside the Moolavar deity, is taken out on a procession to the River Coloroon at 10.30 p.m. on the Panguni Uthiram night for Theerthavari. After vedic recital and distribution of sacred water at the Coloroon, Chinna Perumal joins Namperumal and Ranganayaki at the Serthi Mandapam around midnight.
It was on Panguni Uthiram, at the Serthi Mandapam, around 900 years ago that Ramanuja composed three great works of prose called ‘Gadhya Thraya.’ Swamy RaamAnujA was overwhelmed with the darsana soubhAgyam of the dhivya dampatis of Srirangam on one Panguni Uttira sErhti sevai and He peformed His SaraNAgathy at the sacred feet of the divine couple through His three immortal gadhyams:
In the first verse called ‘Saranagathi Gadhya,’ a delighted Ramanuja on finding the divine couple together at the Serthi Mandapam approaches Ranganayaki Thayar, sings in praise of Her and seeks Her blessings to make Lord Ranganatha to accept his total surrender at his feet.
In the second composition called ‘Ranga Gadhya,’ he sings in praise of Lord Ranganatha and shares to the world the many virtues of the Lord.
In the third composition, called ‘Vaikunta Gadhya,’ Ramanuja in a glorious description brings to light the great things and the divine world of Vaikunta.
In memory of his contributions, these three compositions of Ramanuja was rendered in front of the Serthi Mandapam at 1a.m. on the Panguni Uthiram night.
Araiyars rendered 16 verses in praise of Lord Ranganatha and Ranganayaki Thayar at the Serthi Mandapam. On the Panguni Uthiram night, Namperumal was adorned with 18 different alankarams.
At the end of the festivities, the Lord was taken out in a procession on a chariot through the four Uthira strets, before being taken back to his sanctum.