Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oachira Parabrahma Temple

Oachira Parabrahma Temple is a very ancient Temple of Kerala without any building structures,sanctum sanctorum, Idol and priests.It is situated beside NH 47 and is 34 km from Kollam. This place which is spread on a vast land of 36 acres is a pilgrimage center  for millions of people every year.In the Hindu religious belief  it is stated that God is without any particular form or shape and we can not measure the power of God.Since such a form can not be imagined by us we have manifested human shaped God forms for the sake of concentrating in our mind to do meditation.In temples idols are consecrated to worship that enormous  power easily.In the Bhagawath Geetha Krishna says that the  true devotee of God can assume him in any form,Call him in any name but with loving devotion.He may accept that form and give  them vision.
At Oachira temple God Siva in his "Digambara form' is worshiped .He is Parabrahma who is the  Creator and Protector of the Universe,without any form or shape and possessing  tremendous power which can not be assumed or measured.He is supreme consciousness  which  does not differ from the nature.He is 'Ohm karam' in which everything is contained in.
There are several well kept Banyan trees in the Oachira temple premises( 'Padanilam')  where large number of poor people and devotees are dwelling in the shades of those trees chanting God's names and Sthotras.People from far and near visit this temple to get solitude and God's grace every day.The festivals of this temple   are 'Vrichikam Panthrandu Vilakku'  'Oachirakkali'  and  'Irupathiyettam Onam'.
Oachira Panthrandu Vilakku is mainly considered as the days from 1st Vrichikam to 12 th  Vrichikam (November-December) every year during which thousands of devotees come here and stays for 12 days in small sheds and huts.These huts has to be  reserved  earlier for the devotees to stay as per their intentions regarding the period of  stay. The first 12 days of Vrichikam,next 12 days if you prefer like that or next 12 days if that will be convenient for you, as per your wish and convenience can be  selected for  the days for 'Bhajanam Parkkal'(Staying  there chanting   God's names and Mantras.)
During these periods the  temple compound which is known as  'Padanilam' would be transformed in to a gorgeous  Pilgrimage center where exhibitions,trade fairs, stage programs, etc are all conducted and thousands of pilgrims will be staying there chanting prayers  and thousands visit there every day.Staying at the temple compound for 12 days is considered  very auspicious which will bring  good grace from God and the wishes of the devotee will be fulfilled.
Oachira which is 'Ohmkara Chira'  is very ancient and it is believed that this is the place where a 'Nampoothiri Brahmin' of 'Akavur Mana'(House of a Brahmin Nampoothiri) got 'darsan' of  'Lord Shiva' as Supreme God 'Parabrahma' in the form of a "Buffalo'
'Akavoor Chathan'  who beloged to 'Parayi Petta Panthirukulam' was a servant of the 'Akavur Namboothiri' That learned man used to take bath every day early morning and started  his Pooja rituals.Chathan who was illiterate asked him one day which God he was praying and  what would be his shape.Namboothiri for teasing him answered but  seriously said  that he was praying 'Parabrahma' and  shape of that Lord would be like a Buffalo.
Poor Chathan was a firm believer of God, but was not knowing pooja rituals or any prayer mantras   but  meditated from the  following day concentrating in his mind God in the shape of a Buffalo.After 41 days God came to him in the form of a Buffalo and stayed with him.The buffalo followed him where ever he went and helped him in his works also but nobody else could see that buffalo.Once the Nampoothiri without knowing about these happenings asked Chathan to accompany him for a pilgrimage.Buffalo was following them but Nampoothiri could not see it.When they reached Oachira they had to go through a small door and Chathan was instructing the Buffalo to turn its head slightly to safe guard its horns and  come through the door.Nampoothiri felt anxious that Chathan was actually speaking to somebody but he could not see any thing.Nampoothiri asked Chathan to whom he was talking to and Chathan replied in a silly manner that it was 'Parabrahma'. The astonished Nampoothiri suddenly touched Chathan and looked and saw the Parabrahma in the shape of a Buffalo.Suddenly the Buffalo vanished from sight.The sad Chathan said that he would not come without his companion and stayed there praying to Parabrahma and thus the 'Bhajanam Parkkal'(Staying at Oachira praying to God) started.There are no Pooja rituals or offerings to the God here.Even the soil here is considered  sacred and the devotees collect a little soil as 'Prasadam'.Chanting God's names and providing food to the devotees and poor people are considered auspicious here for getting God's bliss.Every day free food is served to thousands of devotees and poor people who are staying in this temple premises.It is being possible from the contributions made by rich devotees.Even God takes human form and participate in this 'Annadanam' is the belief.
For those who can not stay in the temple for 12 days consecutively can stay there one day each every month so that it becomes 12  in an  year which  also helps to get God's grace.Oachirakkali in the month of Mithunam(June) is also celebrated here which attracts thousands of people to this sacred place.The first 12 days of Vrichikam month is the most important celebration in this temple which is famous as 'Oachira Panthrandu Vilakku' festival.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vaikom Mahadeva Temple

The Vaikom Mahadevar Temple is considered as one of the  oldest and most important Siva temples of Kerala.This temple is known as 'Perum Thrikkovil' and is situated in the heart of Vaikom Municipality of Kottayam District.  'Vaikom Ashtami Festival'  is celebrated all over Kerala along with Vaikom Temple.It is believed that an Asura named 'Khara' installed the the three Shiva Lingas of Vaikom,Ettumanoor, and Kaduthuruthy.It is believed auspicious to visit these three temples before 'Uchapooja' (Pooja ritual in the noon) and also said that our reasonable wishes will be fulfilled.
It is also believed that Lord Parasurama consecrated the Shiva  'Linga' at Vaikkom temple and constructed the temple also.One thing is certain that the Linga of this temple dates back to Thretha Yuga and the Pooja rites to the Deity has not been  broken till today.The Lord Siva, of this temple is lovingly called as Vaikkathappan and he is revered in three forms every day.In the morning he is considered as 'Dakshina Moorthy'  at noon he is considered  in 'Kiratha form' (as a Hunter) and in the evening he is in the form as 'Sachidanantha'.Dakshina Moorthy is the Universal teacher and also responsible for all the arts and artistic talents.So like Goddess Saraswathi Devi he bless the devotees with good deeds and thoughts and helps them to attain good education and bless them with artistic talents.
Vaikkathappan is known as 'Annadana Prabhu' also.To all the devotees come to the temple before noon is provided a feast from the temple which is known as 'Vaikkathu Prathal'.This feast is made in the temple itself and known for its super taste.This 'annadanam' is held in this temple for centuries without fail.
The deity of Vaikkathappan is also known as 'Viswanathan'  means the owner of this whole universe.The annual temple festival is for 12 days in the  dark lunar cycle of 'Vrichikam' month (November-December).

This day is celebrated with awful galore and  exultation.The Vaikom town will be beautifully decorated and there will be a flow of thousands of people from far and near to participate in the temple functions today to get the grace of Lord Siva.
After dusk the Deity will be taken on an elephant to the 'Aanakkottil' with music,temple torches,color,pageantry etc and after some time Deities of 8 temples  in nearby areas are brought on different elephants in separate processions there.The arrival of all these processions  in a colorful manner with Panchavadyam,Chendamelam,colored umbrellas  and temple torches etc including Theyyam,Nilakkavadi,Karakattam,mayilattam,dance etc converts all the roads leading to the temple with joyous scenario  which are all stupendous that  fills the hearts of devotees with devotion and happiness.When all the 8 deities arrives there is a ritual known as 'Kanikkiduka' which is offerings made  to the Lord which is a unique system seen only at Vaikkom temple.The 'Vrishapha Vahana' Ezhunnellippu (Procession with the Idol of  Nandi-The Bull) is also a special ritual during the festival period.
The Subramanya Swamy temple situated at 'Udayanapuram' 3km from Vaikkom temple  has several attachments to Vaikom temple.'Udayanapurathappan' (Subramanya) is considered as Lord Siva's son and he will be also brought in procession to Vaikom temple for the festival function and will be greeted in a grand manner.There is another ritual known as 'Koodipooja' in Vaikkom temple with Udayanapuram Subramanya Swamy.
Vaikkathu Ashtami is celebrated in all Siva temples of Kerala along with Vaikom Temple.It is believed that
'Vyagrapaada Rishi' who was a firm devotee of 'Vaikkathappan' got 'Darshan' of Lord Siva on the Ashtami day and it is celebrated  as rejoice of this event as well as part of the temple festival.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Swamy

Sabarimala Temple is completely different in many aspects to other temples of Kerala.When Kerala was derived from the Sea Parasurama divided Kerala in to 64 Gramas (Villages) and it is also famous that he established several temples for the welfare of this state.The Sastha temples of Sabarimala,Achankovil,AryanKavu etc were established to protect Kerala from all evils.
Lord Ayyappa is also considered as Lord of 'Saneeswaran' who is in control of 'Saturn' which is 'Sani' that causes so many disturbances   in life.Even Gods can not escape from the grip of 'Sani' and to describe the power of Sani there is a story that once when the influence of Sani was nearby (Apaharam) in the Horoscope,  Lord  Shiva absconded himself and stayed alone without notice from anyone for the whole period of Sani Apaharam.Afterwards he came out and boasted to Sani that he could not do him any trouble.Sani replied that it was due to his effect that  Lord Shiva had to stay alone in disguise for  that whole  period  and the  pleasant  Svia
gave him the authority as an 'Eeswar'  or made him equal to  God. We call him as 'Saneeswaran' and he is in control of human life for one third of the whole life.It means if a man lives for Ninety Years he was  mainly in influence of 'Sani' for 30 years.There are so many ways 'Sani' influencing our lives.'Ezhara sani' , 'Kandaka Sani" Sani Apaharam' etc  decides one third of our  whole life.
It is in this instance that the importance of Sabarimala Temple arises.Lord Ayyappa is the authority of Sani also and by praying Lord Ayyappa our problems due to Sani can be get rid off.
But for visiting Sabarimal Temple there are certain rituals and rules  to be performed and followed.Lord Ayyappa is actually married and  he has two wives 'Pushkala' and  'Poorna'  but at Sabarimala Temple he is in the form as a 'Yogeeswara' and hence ladies in between 10 and 50 are not allowed.
All the devotees has to carry on their head an ' Irumudi' which contains the pooja materials for the deity.Mainly all the devotees carry a 'Ney Thenga' which is a coconut filled with pure Ghee for pouring on the deity.There will be heavy rush and  long line waiting to give the ghee for unction and so people in a hurry pour their ghee in a large stone structure known as 'Ney Thoni' and come back. This is not fair.You have to take out the ghee from your  coconut and give it for unction and get back the part of the ghee after unction as 'Prasadam', and then only your pilgrimage is fulfilled.More over every pilgrim has to make 18 rounds around  the sanctum with his Irumudi on head.Most of the devotees are unaware of this and they do the 'Pradakshinam' only once.From now on since you understood  the ritual in the traditional way perform it in that manner.
The observances to be followed after putting the garland, which is known as 'mala'  or  'mudra' is very important.Using a 'Thulasi beads' or 'Rudraksha' mala is better.Pendent of  Lord Ayyappa is must on the mudra.Give it for pooja in an Ayyappa Temple if possible and the Priest wears it on the Deity by which it gains an energy from the deity and you experience it  when you wear it.You transforms to an ideal form as a purified person equivalent to God.That is why at Sabartimala all Devotees are considered equal and called as 'Ayyappa' or
'Swamy'.For attaining that position as Swamy we have to perform the observances  strictly.
Earlier it was compulsory to perform this Vrat for a 'Mandala Period' which is of 41 Days.Today also majority of people perform Vrat for 41 days prior to Darshan of Lord Ayyappa.But now a days eminent Gurus also says that in this hectic way of life practicing  12 Days or 21 Days Observances is also allowed.
But to put a garland today and proceed to Sabarimala tomorrow is useless and should be avoided.
Those who visit Sabarimala Temple for the first time may go through the traditional path from Erumeli ,Karimala,Pampa,Neelimala to Sabarimala.This will consume more time and energy but  for a beginner it is auspicious.But if it is not possible go to Pampa by bus and proceed without being guilty.Lord Ayyappa still bless you.
During the observance period 'Bramhmacharya' is compulsory.Do not consume non Vegetarian Foods.Eat only foods which  you believe made in clean and neat areas.Speak and perform truthful deeds always remember God, Take bath twice a Day,Visit at least once the nearby temple etc has to be practiced.Then also you  may be worried whether you have done some thing wrong during the days of observances unknowingly.Don't worry.Take with you  a set of 20-30  of  beetal leaves (Vettila)  and throw them up in the premises of 'Malikapurathamma' by which your sins during vrat period will be excused.
The people living in other states and abroad are very much worried how to please Lord Ayyappa during their observance period.Everybody including Keralites can do pooja as follows in their homes.
If there is a Pooja room well and good otherwise in a clean room place on a stand or a neat silk a picture of Lord Ayyappa .Light oil lamp in front of it.The devotee has to  sit against eastern direction in the morning.Meditate for a while to make the mind calm.Then think your Gurus and recite 'Ohm Gurubhyo Namah'.
Then Chant" Ohm Sarva Vigna Haram Devam
                     Sarva Vigna Vivarjitham
                     Sarva Sidhi Prada tharam
                      Vandeham Gana Nayakam"
This Mantra has to be chanted for three times.Then close your eyes and see in your mind  Lord Ayyapa and Chant Moola Mantra of lord Ayyappa 36 times. " Ohm Namaparaaya Gopthre"
You can now recite Ayyappa Gayathri for 36 times  as follows
"Ohm Boothanadhaya Vidmahe
Bhavaputhrayadhee Mahe
Thanna Sastha prachodayat"
Then get up and recite " Ohm Namo Bhagavathe Revanthaya Bhootha Nadhaya Maha Veeraya Sarva Samridhikaraya Namah"  Reciting this bow down to God 3,5 or 7 times.
This can be repeated in the evening sitting against west.Or both time in the morning and evening this can be performed turning in the direction of north.This ritual can be performed for 12 or 21  days or every Saturday.
For everybody irrespective of man or woman  can recite "Ohm Revanthaya Namah" as much as you like without any Vrat or Observances any time any day but with a loving feeling towards Lord Ayyappa..Lord Ayyappa will bless you and bestow with all kinds of prosperity  and relieves from Sani Dosham etc also.It is very auspicious  and helps to materialize  several of our common needs.






Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SKANDA SHASHTI- PART 2

Many devotees of Lord Subramanya perform the Shashti Vrat with much dedication and they perform the vrat from Pradhama day after no moon day(amavasi) and continue on dwithiya,thrithiya,chathurthi,panchami and on shashti day.Many people sleep on the floor using a mat only and even avoid a pillow.Our readiness to suffer difficulties for the mercy of God is expressed by all these observances.In this hectic way of life those who could manage to follow these kinds of vrat  should do so but to observe Shashti Vrat in a simple manner is described here.
On Panchami day(day prior to Shashti day) take meals only one time, either lunch or supper.On the  Shashti day get up early in the morning,take bath, wear clean clothes and in the Pooja room or in front of the picture of Subramanya  Swamy light up a seven wick  oil lamp.Then you have to chant Shashti Devi Sthotra. Chant for eight times "Ohm Hrim Shashti Devyai Namah"
Then you have to recite this:-
"Namoh Devi Mahadevi  Sidhi Santi Swaroopini
Devasene Subhe Shashti devi nithyam namosthuthe
Varade Puthrade Devi Dhanado-the namo namah
Sukhade mokshade Shashti namasthe Jagadambike
Shashtyamsa roopam Srishtyartham poonda sidhe namosthuthe
Sidha yoginiyam Maye Shashti Devi Namosthuthe
Sreshtayam Sarade Devi Paraadevi Namosthuthe
Namasthe Loka mathave Baaladhishtathru devathe
Kalyana daathri kalyani Sarva karma phalaprade
Bhakthar than munnil ennennum prathyakshapedum Eeswari
Karmam ethilum evarkkum poojye Shanmukha vallabhe
Deva rakhsha kariniyam Shashtidevi namosthuthe
Sudha satwatmike Devi Namasthe sarva vandithe
Himsa krodhangal attole Shashti devi namo namah
Dhana Bharya Puthrareyum ekanam-me sureswari
Manavum jayavum nalki sathrukkale hanikka nee
Keerthiyum dharmavum devi Nalkiyalum Maheswari
Vidyayum sath-prajayeyum Bhuvum ekuka poojithe
subhavum jayavum nalku Shashti devi paninjidam"
                                     After reciting this once 'Divya Naama Sthotra of Subramanya Swamy'  has to be recited.It is given below.
"Aagneyan Skandan avvannam Deeptha keerthi Anamayan
Mayura Kethu Dharmathma Bhoothesan Mahishardanan
Kamajil Kamadan Kanthan Sathyavag Bhuvaneswaran
Sisu  Seekhran Suchi Chandan Deepthavarnan Subhananan
Amokhan Anakhan Roudran Priyan Chandrananan Param
Prasanthathma Deeptha Sakthi Bhadrakril Kooda Mohanan
Shashti priyan than Dharmathma Pavithran Mathru valsanan
Kanyabhartha Vibhakthan than Swaheyan Revathi suthan
Visakhan Prabhu Nethavu Naigameyan Saducharan
Suvrathan Lalithan pinne Balakreedanaka priyan
Khacharithan Brahmachari Sooran Saravanolbhavan
Viswamithra priyan pinne Devasena priyan param
Vaasudeva priyan pinne priyan than priya krithume
Karthikeyante Ee divya namangal ura cheyvavan
Swargavum keerthiyum swathum nedum illoru samsayam"
                             After reciting this light up camphor and bow down to God.Prey
for prosperity,good health and your reasonable needs.Observances as stated in Part-1 of this article can be done.This procedure  can be followed for all Shashti days as well as for Skanda Shashti Day also.
Those who wants  to perform Shashti Vrat for One year or nine years can start it on 29th November this month by eating one time meal and the procedure of Shasti on next day, 30 November,  as described above.
May Lord Subramanya and Shashti Devi bless us all with good health, happiness and Prosperity.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

SKANDA SHASHTI - Part 1

Skanda Shashti is a Vrat(Observance) performed  for getting the grace and bliss of Lord Muruga who is called in different names such  as Subramanya,Skanda,Sakthidharan,Arumukhan etc.Among the vratas performed by us 'Shashti Vrat'  is pious,and which is considered as one of the most persuasive for the devotees.
In Tamil Nadu Lord Muruga is given special consideration and attention by the devotees like the Kerala people's     consideration of  Lord Ayyappa.
The main 6 temples of Lord Subramanya which are known as 'Pada Veedu' are in Tamil Nadu, Thiruchendur,Palani,Velimalai  etc.
In Kerala also there are very important and ancient Subramanya temples  like Harippad, Perunna  at Changanassery,Udayanapuram at Vaikom,Cheriyanadu at Chengannur,Payyannur,Ullor at Trivandrum etc.The devotees believe that Lord Muruga does not like his devotees to suffer and he possess much more leniency.The other part of this is that devotees  pierce their cheeks,eyebrows etc with small and large spears during celebrations 'Kavady' processions etc to get his kind attention for mercy and bliss.
Chattambi Swamikal,Sree Narayana Guru,Swamy Parama Hamsa etc gained self realization by chanting 'Bala Subramanya Mantra' and getting his darshan(vision) from which it is evident that  even his 'darshan' is possible if the devotee tries very hard.
                                 "Shadananam Kumkuma Raktha Varnam
                                  Mahaalfutham divya Mayura Vahanam
                                  Rudrasya Soonum Sura Sainya Nadham
                                  Guham Sadaham Saranam Prapadye"
This is a Sree Muruga dhyanam  which can be recited every day.
The Mantra  " Ohm Sara vana Bhava " is very sacred and can be recited without advice from a  'Guru'  which has to be recited without breaking words but has to be spelled as one word like "Ohmsaravanabhava'.This can be chanted as much times  as possible everyday which is very auspicious.
This year's Skanda Shashti was  performed  yesterday 1st November 2011 all over the world  and in Tamil Nadu they   celebrate today as 'Thiru Kalyanam day'.People of Tamil Nadu perform the vrat from the Pradhama(Day after the amavasi) and do the performance continuously for six days by taking the meals only once in a day.
In Kerala observance for two days are performed. On the day prior to Shashti, meals are taken only once( either lunch or  supper) and on shashti day afternoon they eat the food provided from the temple.(You can prepare this in our Homes also)
Usually it would be cooked raw rice and curd.Some people use salt.Some people use pickle also.There are people who omit the dinner but some people eat as usual for the dinner and some others eat fruits.There is no compulsion but these choices has  to be selected by ourselves for  the aim being to make our mind and body  pure and to be contented with what we have.These kind of observances will force us to think about the poor and needy people around us. There are so many people starving for food  in this world and suffering from several diseases.We should think about them occasionally  and feel thankful to the almighty for providing the ecstatic facilities for us. We have to perform more charity for the betterment of others too.We have to think that there is no need of any arrogance about the facilities and positions we enjoy and  we should avoid irrational words,deeds and telling lies.Our antagonistic actions to certain people  also should be avoided.
Shashti vrat is mostly performed by women but men can also perform it.The main objective of this vrat  is for the benifit of our children.Subramanya is known as 'Deva Sanapathi' which means that he is the supreme commander of the Demi-Gods.More over he is the husband of 'Devasena' ; in that sense also he is Devasenapathi.Another name of Devasena, is 'Shashti'.Subramanya Swamy's wife 'Devasena' who is 'Shashti' is on the left side of Subramanya Swamy always.She is very fond of children and grant  them many favours.When a mother perform the  Shashtivrat  'Devi Devasena' and Subramnaya Swamy both will be pleased and bless them.So mothers perform this vrat to live prolifically and for their fecundity.Obviously Lord Subramanya will provide prosperity and good health also.
The Shashti vrat was started by 'Parvathy Devi' who is the mother of Lord  Subramanya The incarnation of Lord  Muruga was to eradicate the demons like Tharakasura and Soora Padmasura who were possessing special powers.When the fight between Soora Padmasura and Subramanya were in progress, the Demon  with his magical power  made Subramanya invisible.The  Devas and Parvathi Devi performed Vrat for the protection of Lord Subramanya.This was on the Shashti day of "Thulam Month' and the same day itself Soora Padmasura was killed.Everybody on hearing the news stopped the vrat and consumed food and drinks for lunch.
On another occasion Subramanya Swamy asked the meaning of 'Ohm' to 'Brahma Deva'. Brahmadeva replied 'Aham Brahmasmi'  but Subramanya was not satisfied with Brahadeva's answer and he tied Brahma Deva with a coir.When Lord Siva came to know about this he explained to Subramanya  that what he did was wrong.He realized his mistake and repenting about that he took the form of  a serpent.For getting him back to the previous form with the advice of Lord Siva Parvathy Devi had to perform Shashti Vrat for 108 times in a period  of  nine years.
Shashti vrat has to be performed for 12 times in a year one each  in every month starting from Vrichikam month(November) to Thulam month(Oct) of next year which will be 'Skanda Shashti Day'.So a series of Shashti vrat of a particular year ceases on the Skanda Shashti Day.The new series of this years Shashti  Vrat will be starting in this month (November ) and will be ending in October 2012.
People with more will power and determination can perform Vrat for Nine years continuously   for total number of  108 times  and that has also to be started   in 'Vrichikam'(November last week).The Shashti  in Vrichikam  will be on 30 Nov 2011 and those who want to perform the vrat for one year and those who want to perform the vrat for Nine years can start it in the last week of November 2011.