Srirangam Vaikunta Ekadasi – Pagal Pathu – Day 1

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This year’s much awaited pagal pathu utsavam commenced at Sri Ranganatha Swami temple in Srirangam on December 15th 2020.

On the eve of Pagal Pathu, December 14th 2020 Thirunedunthandakam as part of Thiruadhyayana Utsavam commenced. Prior to this, the Araiyars were brought with music and maryadhai to the temple.

Araiyars are male priests who spend several years studying the 4000 Divya Prabhandham and the traditional commentaries on the hymns.These are set to music and dance steps are done to reveal the meaning(based on Tampiran pati).

This is a hereditary tradition and the dress is panchakacham veshti and a conical velvet cap (Araiyar kulla) embroidered with Shanku, Chakram and Thiruman. Araiyar swami wears perumal’s garland and holds a pair of cymbals. First the relevant verses are sung. Then abhinayam (gestures) is done. Third step the inner meaning is stated.

This tradition goes back to the times of Nathamuni who set the music and steps for the four thousand. About today’s Thirunedunthandakam, it celebrates Parasara Bhattar’s victory over an Advaithic scholar in Melkote. Using Thirumangai Azhwar’s Thirunedunthandakam Parasar Bhattar defeated the Advaitin who became his disciple, who became famous as Nanjeeyar. When Parasara Bhattar returned to Srirangam and reported the incident Namperumal asked Bhattar to repeat the winning arguments. Thus it is that on the eve of Pagal Pathu Araiyars enact this incident before Sri Ranganatha.

Day 1 Pagal Pathu (December 15th 2020) live experience shared by Smt. Vyjayanthi Sundararajan

After almost a year Ranganatha made me come to the temple. The temple has opened and devotees have been having His darsan. Thayar sannidhi , Udaiyavar sannidhi and Chakrathazhwar sannidhi are open. All upa sannidhis are closed except  to do the mandatory nitya pooja. But I got a chance to go only today because of a good friend of us who has a special card that allows a certain number of people.

We went at 9.30 A.M. as we had booked the 10.00-12.00 slot online. Because of my walking stick (an injured knee )  they allowed me in through the short cut but it still involved some climbs and ups and downs. The temple was spic and span. Cleaners were continuously cleaning the temple. There were lot of policemen and women who were given instructions and an update of the temple topography. As we went to the main sanctum I saw  the dwarapalkas housed in wooden structures with a golden mandapam , forming a canopy. As we entered Yagya Varaha at the right hand corner also had a golden gopuram above Him.It was amazing to see Periya Perumal the Reclining Ranga clothed in pearls. It is His Feet that we see first because in the time available it is not possible to see Him fully. No srisathari or theertham is given and no prasadams can be given as offering because of Covid.

After seeing His Feet quickly moved the vision to His Eyes and crown and walked out turning back for another look. The Ubhaya nachimars were there and a gap was there between them as Namperumal was in Arjuna mandapam. After having darsan of the golden padukas seen though the glass door said Namaste to Yoga Narayana housed in the left hand corner before heading out and thanking the dwarapalakas for letting us in. Then we went to Arjuna mandapam where all the azhwars and acharyas were assembled on both sides and the araiyars were offering verses from prabhandam wearing Perumal’s parivettam and looked divine in their araiyar kullas of different colours .

As we walked up to see Namperumal standing in pink silk with a broad blue zari border worn as a  panchakacham we stood rooted. He wore a tall crown, Lakshmi pendant chain , beautiful ear ornaments ,strands of corals, sun pendanted chain and ruby abhaya hastham. We had good darsan of His Feet and headed out after worshipping Cherakulavalli Thayar and Surtani and having another look at Rangan and the divine performers entertaining Him flanked by the rows of azhwars and acharyas. As we headed out along the Ekadashi pradakshinam route offered namaskarams to madapalli nachiyar and Annamurti at the end of the corner holding a morsel of curd rice and a pot of payasam.

After admiring the Dwajha sthambam decorated with a huge garland and worshipping ‘kambatadi Anjaneyar ‘ we gazed in awe at Periya Garudan ,worshipped Udaiyar sans utsavar who was at Arjuna mandapam we headed out crossing the rows of Ranga vilas shops which were open but the sannidhis of Veera Anjaneyar, Vitala Krishna , Ul Andal , Tondaradipodi, Koorathazhwan and Nathamnunigal closed because of Covid. Only Ranga Ranga gopuram door is open and temperature checking is done before entering. We also carried our Adhar Card.

Photo Courtesty: Sri Rengavilasam, Writeup by Smt. Vyjayanthi Sundararajan

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