Friday, February 24, 2012

KUMBHA- BHARANI FESTIVAL



Legend of Kumbha Bharani Festival:
Parvathy Devi is the incarnation of Goddess Aaadi Parashakthi and was born as the daughter of Himavan and Mena.She was black in color.Parvathi Devi was in deep love towards Lord Shiva but Lord Shiva was in meditation and penance.Lord Shiva opened his eyes and felt love towards Parvathy Devi who was standing near him when Kama Deva sent his 'Kupid's Arrow'(Pushpasaram) towards them according to the instructions by Indra.The plan of Devas to make the unity of Shiv-Shakti worked out well and

Lord Shiva  married Parvathy  Devi.  As per the wish of Devas their child Lord Karthikeya, who is famous
as Lord Subramanya,Muruka etc killed Tharakasura and regained the throne of Indra and other Kings..
One day  Lord Mahavishnu and Lakshmi Devi visited Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva and they
spend happily for some time watching the pranks of Children Ganesha and Subramanya.When Lord Mahavishnu and Lakshmidevi were about to leave Lord Shiva called Parvathy Devi as 'Kaali' (Means one who is black in color) forgetting that Parvathy Devi did not appreciate it.
Parvathy  Devi felt angry for calling her 'Kaali' in front of the guests and  was not ready to hear any excuses from Lord Shiva but left Mount Kailash in her fury. She sadly proceeded  to Brahmaloka.She met Lord Brahma and pleaded him to make her fair in color.It was done in a second by the creator of this Universe.Parvathy Devi returned  triumphantly back to Kailash as Gouri(Gori and
Gouri in Sanskrit and Hindi means one who is fair in color).The color Change of Parvathy(Kali) to (Gouri)
was celebrated by all. In Bhadra Kali temples also this celebration was extended.To commemorate this
event Kumbha Bharani is celebrated splendidly in Bhadrakali Temples of Kerala also.
In Kodungallur Devi Temple, in Trissur District,  which is the most important Bhadrakali temple of Kerala the annual festival
starts on Kumbha Bharani day and finishes on Meena Bharani day.(One month long  festival).Meena Bharani
and  the days of one week prior to that is celebrated with several cults and rituals,color and pageantry.
At Chettikulangara Temple, which is situated in Alleppey District Kumbha Bharani is the most important
festival.On Meena Bharani day the temple is kept closed on the assumption that on that day Devi will go
to Kodungallur to participate in the functions there.'Kettukazcha' of Chettikulangara temple is very famous
in which very high temple cars and decorated other structures such as Horse,Chariots,Bulls, etc are brought to the temple premises which are very heavy and so it is a display of strength and valor also.'Kuthiottam' which is a ritual and a dance form is performed here.
Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Trivandrum city is world famous and entered in Guinness Book of World records for the 'Ponkala Festival'  which is the largest gathering of women participation in the world for a festival.
On Kumbha Bharani day the 10 day annual festival begins.On that day morning Kodungalloor Bhagavathy arrives here and will be present till the festival ceases is the belief.Attukal Devi is Bhadrakali Devi in a pleasant state.
Thiruvanikkavu Bhagavathy in Mullorkara Thrissur District will celebrate festival of eight days commencing from Kumbha Bharani Day.
Kallooppara Bhagavathy Temple in Pathanamthitta District celebrate Kumbha Bharani festival and the annual 10 days festival starts on that day.Display of Temple structures such as Horse,Chariots etc(Kettu Kazcha) and Padayani will
be added attraction during these days.
Thiruvilayanattukavu Bhagavathy temple in Sreekrishnapuram in Palakkad District celebrates Kumbha Bharani.
Palakkunnu Bhagavathy Temple in Kasergod District celebrates this festival with much importance.

At Paramara Bhagavathy Temple in Ernakulam North the festival starts on Uthradam day and on a grand
scale celebration will be on Uthrittathi day.The festival finishes on Kumbha Bharani day.

 Varanad Bhagavathy Temple in Alleppey District celebrates Kumbha Bharani.The annual festival of this
temple which lasts for 14 days will ceases on Kumbha Bharani day.
At Vadasserikavu Bhagavaty Temple in Chengannur, Alapuzha District Kumbha Bharani is an important festival.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

MAHA SHIVRATRI

It is said that Lord Shiva himself admitted that he will propitiate fully for the devotees that revere him on
Shivratri day and he loves that day than any other sacred days.Parvathy Devi revealed this fact to others
and people started to celebrate Shivratri widely there upon.
There is a story for the beginning of Shivratri.When the Devas and Asuras performed the 'Palazhy Madhanam'
by churning the milky ocean using 'Manthara mountain' as the churn and serpent Vasuki  as the coir, the tired
Vasuki vomited a dstructive poison known as 'Halahalam' which if a drop fell on the earth it would burn earth to  ashes.To save the Earth and  Universe as per the request and prayers of Devas and Asuras alike, Lord Shiva
swallowed it.It got stuck on his neck making his neck bluish and so he is  also  known as 'Neela Kantan'.Because of the tremendous power
of the poison Lord Shiva took rest on Devi Parvathy's lap.Devas and Asuras chanted prayers and did not sleep
that night.The anxious Devas and Asuras, Sages and others did not take food or water that day and night
because of their love towards the lord and their eagerness about his health.They forgot about their needs but was engaged in prayers for the betterment of Lord Shiva.That day on the 'Chathurdasi' day of 'Magha Month' we celebrate Maha Shiv-Ratri.
On the Shivratri day the devotees has to get up early, take bath etc wear 'Rudraksham beads garland' if possible apply sacred ash on forehead and start praying Lord Shiva.Panchakshari mantra(Ohm Nama Sivaya)
and other Shiva Mantras  can be recited.You can hear 'Shiv Purana' recitation.Keeping the body and mind pure is most important.Do not consume food or drinks.If possible visit Shiv temple in the evening and offer
'Vilwa leaves  garland' to lord.Spending the night at the temple is more good.Do not sleep during night whether you stay at home or in temple.Next morning by drinking the holy
water from the temple the 'Vrat' can be stopped.For those who performs the 'Shiv Ratri Vrat' will be blessed
by the Lord to have prosperity,happiness and good health.The learned people say that for grabbing the energy
for the next one year performing 'Shiv Ratri Vrat' is the best.
God will bless the people who perform Shiv Ratri Vrat unknowingly also.There is a story on behalf of it.
Legend Of Shivratri Festival:-
'Chitra Bhanu' was the King of island 'Jambudweep' and once a sage by name 'Ashtavakra' arrived at the palace to meet the King.He was astonished to know that King along with the queen was fasting on that day.The sage wanted to know the reason and King Chitrabhanu told him about the Sacred 'Shiv Ratri' which was
not very popular at that time.
King Chitrabhanu because of the God's blessing was remembering about his life of past birth.He revealed it
to Ashtavakra.
In the past birth King Chitrabhanu was a tribesman who lived in 'Kasi' whose name was  'Suswaran'  and
he lived by hunting in the forest and selling the meat at the town.He had wife and children depending on him.
His practice was to do hunting during day time only and occasionally   he never got any animal and so he

could not save any money and was poor.
One day Suswaran entered the forest and wandered here and there on look out for an animal but till dusk
he could not find any.At that time he saw a deer in vicinity and killed it.He cut it and collected its flesh in a
bundle and it became dark and he could not find the way to go out of the forest.He could hear the noise of wild animals and knew

that they would see him in the darkness also and may attack.So he decided to spend the night in the forest
on a tree top.He climbed on a tree nearby, hanged the bundle of flesh on a branch and sat quietly.During
the day and that night also he did not have any food or drink.He was feeling hungry and thirsty and he
remembered about his small children at home and about his loving wife who were also expecting his arrival.

He knew that they would be   waiting without food or drinks since there was nothing in the house to eat..He had promised to reach home earlier after selling the day's catch and
buying rice and other materials for supper.These kind of thoughts made him weep and tears rolled down
his cheeks.In that tension he unknowingly plucked the leaves of that tree one by one and was putting down
wards but his mind was  concentrated on his loved children and wife.He could not sleep till dawn and in the
morning climbed down and reached home safely after selling the meat and buying food materials for them.
Days,months and years passed by and at the time of his death messengers of Lord Shiva approached him
and told him that he was being taken to 'Shiv Lok' the abode of Lord Shiva.He was told that unknowingly
he had performed 'Vrat'  and revered Lord Shiva on Shiva Ratri day.It was on a Shiv Ratri day that Suswaran did not had any food or drink during day and night.At night he plucked leaves and was putting
downwards.He was sitting on a 'Vilwa tree' and was putting downwards vilwa leaves which is most sacred for Lord Shiva's worship.There was a Shiv-Ling idol beneath the tree  which he did not notice and the leaves were falling on it.He was blessed
by Lord Shiva for his 'Vrat' and worship even though performed  unknowingly  and all his sins were removed by him.His soul could spent a long period of time in
happiness and bliss at the abode of Lord Shiva.Later he was given rebirth as 'King Chitrabhanu' with the
power of remembrance of previous birth and so he and his wife was taking 'Vrat' on Shiv Ratri day with
prayers to Lord Shiva.
Sage Ashtavakra was amazed about this story and he also told about this to several others.Eventually
Shiv-Ratri festival got popularized.
This day Maha Shiv-Ratri is the most sacred and best day to worship Lord Shiva.This year's Shiv-Ratri
festival is on Monday, 20 February 2012.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gajendra Moksham Mural Paintings

Story of 'Gajendra Moksham':-Long ago there was a Pandya King by name 'Indradyumna' who was a firm believer of Lord Vishnu and once
when he was engaged in his daily prayers, Sage 'Agastya' who was a Saint and had several  divine powers
arrived at the Palace to meet the King.The King saw him but did not care and continued with his prayers.The Sage waited awhile but the King was not giving any attention.The  Sage could not tolerate the Raja's attitude
towards him and felt his behavior  as aggravating.The angry sage cursed the King to change his form as an Elephant.It happened as real and the Maharaja was turned to be a  big, sturdy Elephant who went to a nearby
mountain  known as 'Thrikudadri' and lived there.The elephant forgot about his past and he lived on the mountain happily suppressing all other animals with his strength.Thus Maharaja 'Indradyumna' turned out to be
'Gajendra' (Gajam=Elephant in Sanskrit,Malayalam etc).
The life of the Gajendra was not boring or miserable for him and he found enough grass,leaves,plants and herbs 
to eat and cool water was abundant in the ponds below the valleys of the mountain.One day after the long stroll
the elephant was tired and reached a pond in which he entered, drank enough water and took a nice bath.He
enjoyed that enchanting surrounding and liked the pond which was filled with lotus flowers.He plucked some lotus flowers and ate it.He was simply lying in the water and suddenly  something bite on one of his front leg very hard that the
elephant cried out in pain.He found that it was a crocodile and he tried to free himself from its bite but in vain.
That crocodile was also cursed to be that creature by Devas for some reason.Actually he was a 'Gandharva'(a
Krishnapuram Palace
Celestial being who was living in another world).The name of that Gandhasrva was 'Huhu' and because of a 
curse he got that crocodile form and had to live in the pond.The crocodile was also not remembering about 
his previous life and was spending his days in the pond.When he saw the elephant on that day he had the
impulse to bite on his leg and did not feel like to free him.
The elephant tried his level best to get off from the crocodile but he could not.His aggression about his strength
all melted away and tears rolled down from his eyes.In that helpless condition he remembered about his past
and his life as Maharajah Indradyumna came to lime light in his mind.He remembered about Lord Vishnu and
about the curse of sage Agastya.He felt sorry for not respecting the Sage when he came to his palace.
He repented about his life as the elephant who  showed  his power and supremacy on other animals on the mountain.
He started praying to Lord Vishnu with the prayers and Mantras he used to recite when he was Maharajah
Indradyumna.He focused his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, and by chanting  the prayers he plucked
Mural painting at Krishnapuram Palace
Lotus flowers from the pond and placed it on a  lotus leaf supposing that  the presence of  Lord Vishnu was there.Days
passed by and  the humble prayers of Poor elephant was continued with full devotion.
At this instance Lord Vishnu arrived at the spot on his 'Garuda Bird' and at the sight of him the glad elephant
plucked a lotus flower and raised it up in offering to him humbly and with impetuosity.
Lord Vishnu with his weapon 'Sudarsana Chakra' killed the crocodile and freed the elephant.When the crocodile was killed it turned to the Gandharva which was his original form and God blessed him and sent 
him back to his world.
The elephant, ( who was Indradyumna ) was granted eternal bliss by Lord Vishnu.
This story is described in 'Maha Bhagavatham' which is holy book in poetry and gives elaborate stories
about  Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.This story 'Gajendra Moksham' has the importance to remind us
that we should respect elders, scholars,Saints and Sages,Teachers etc.Praying to God is necessary for
mental peace and happiness.God will always help his devotees whenever they are in trouble.
'Gajendra Moksham' scene is shown as mural painting and  wooden carving,stone sculptures in different
places of Kerala also.
A very ancient mural painting of 'Gajendra Moksham' is at 'Krishnapuram Palace' of Kerala which is the
biggest in this category.Krishnapuram Palace is near Kayamkulam in Alleppey District.
At 'Thripayar Sree Rama Temple' which is in Trichur District also mural painting of Gajendra Moksham is
existing  and also in 'Killikurissimangalam Siva Temple.At 'Kidangoor Temple of Kottayam District also
this story is shown as mural painting.
Wooden carving of Gajendrasmoksham is seen in Kaviyoor Siva Temple and Sasthamkulangara Temple of
Chengannur in Alleppey District.
Kaviyoor temple is in Thiruvalla of Pathanamthitta District and there it is shown in three parts.In the first
part the elephant in his happy mood is depicted and  in the second he is caught by the crocodile while in
the third  God arrives and helps  him is shown.
It is said that these mural paintings and sculptures of 'Gajendra Moksham' provides a divine feeling 
in the hearts of the viewers also.It reminds us not to be arrogant about our wealth or strength and urge us to pray
God for mental peace,happiness and eternal bliss.