Sunday, April 29, 2012

THRISSUR POORAM

Can we define or explain what is sweetness or what is sourness?We have to experience it to know that feeling.Like
that  we can not explain in words what is 'Thrissur Pooram'.For experiencing the festive mood of Thrissur Pooram you have to be present there at least once in your life.
Thrissur pooram is held every year at 'Thrissur City' in Kerala in the month of Malayalam Month Medam(Mid
April -Mid May) on the Pooram star day.The very big and oldest pooram festival of Kerala is  'Aarattupuzha
 Pooram festival which is  held in Thrissur District itself.The number of elephants (Means the deities of many temples brought on them)
are more at Aarattupuzha Pooram but at Thrissur pooram  15 Elephants each  in  two groups are participating face to face each year as in a competition which creates a wonderful experience  of festivity.May be because of the organizing capability Thrissur Pooram earned world wide Publicity much more than  Aarattupuzha Pooram and relatively large mass of gathering happens every year at Thrissur Pooram from all over India and abroad.
The splendid color, pageantry and music of traditional percussive  instruments like drums etc which plays a
rhythm known as 'Panchari Melam' by hundreds of efficient experts,another variety of traditional orchestra made by drums and wind instruments  'Kombu,Kuzhal' etc known as 'Pancha Vadyam' and music
created with wind instrument 'Nadaswaram'  all makes the spectators in a hysteric joyous feeling which has to
be experienced.
 'Thrissur pooram Festival' wiil be held at Thrissur City in Kerala at 'Thekkinkdu Maithanam' which is the ground of 'Vadakkum Natha Mahadeva Temple of Thrissur' which is one of the famous Shiva Temple in Kerala
.Even though 15 elephants each in a group participates with 'Thiruvambadi Devaswom heading one group and 'Paaramekkavu Devaswom' heading the other the role of Vadakkum Natha Temple Deity is only
as a spectator and who provides  the venue for this spectacular event.
This Festival was started by 'Sakthan Thampuran' the ruler of Cochin,  in the year 1798.There are some interesting facts about this.
There was a mini forest surrounded to Vadakkumnatha Temple which was believed as sacred and not to be cut and cleared. It was made clear by Sakthan Thampuran against the  objections from many people including  his mother. The original name of 'Sakthan Thampuran' was ' Rama Varma' who was a mighty and powerful ruler of Cochin Dynasty who took brilliant and firm decisions always and actions without any fear
and he earned the title 'Sakthan Thampuran'(which means powerful King)
When he acquired  the throne he ordered to clear the forest surrounding Vadumnatha Temple which was
a dwelling place for robbers  and  many people were feeling panic to walk along that road after dusk.The
superstition was that if that mini forest was cleared it would bring ill fates to people and also to the King.But he took a firm decision and made clear all that space which was in the heart of the city.He got a chance to organize a splendid event in that space very soon unexpectedly.
Aarattupuzha is only just 12 km from Thrissur and the Pooram festival there held in the Malayalam month
of Meenam was famous then also.Once Thiruvambadi Devaswom and some other temple deities were late
to reach Aarattupuzha because of flood and was not allowed to participate in the Pooram Festival by the
authorities.They  complained about this to 'Sakthan Thampuran' and he suggested them to organize another
Pooram Festival in the  next month of 'Medam' and selected 'Thekkinkadu Maithanam' which was cleared by him  and was maintaining neatly.He selected 'Thiruvambadi Temple' as the head of a group and
'Paramekkavu Temple' as the head of the other group.
Sakthan Thampuran was the  King who constructed Thiruvambadi Temple  which was lying in a ruined condition at that time.
Sakthan Tampuran had his head quarters at Cochin but he had a Palace in Thrissur which is a museum at
present.He used to stay at Thrissur occasionally and once there happened an incident.He had ordered to
make and place large stone containers to  be used  for filling water for animals to quench their thirst.(Two hundred years back there were bullock carts,horse carts  etc were used as transport and to provide water for the  animals was a necessity)
The containers made at Thrissur was being dragged by elephants to the spots and mahouts noted that the elephants  could not drag them properly in the compound of 'Thiruvambadi Krishna  Temple' when they were going that way  which they reported to the King.He visited the temple and inquired about all the details of the deity of that temple.(The origin which  extends to the time of Pandavas and Krishna himself).He ordered immediate renovation and construction of
necessary buildings which were carried out soon.That 'Thiruvampadi Temple'  was  given the power as a group
leader for Thrissur pooram  by Sakthan Thampuran which is followed till today.
Thirty Elephants fully caparisoned and utilizing accessories such as 'Aalavattom.Venchamaram' and colourful



parasols used  for festivals which is known as  'Muthukkuda' in Kerala  makes the gala event  much more colorful and great.There is an occasion from 5.30 P.M known as 'Kuda Mattam' when several Umbrellas which differs in color,design etc are displayed by the two groups on their  elephants one by one   as a competition in which spectators give
very much appraisal.
In the early morning around 3 A.M. fantastic  fire works will be there which will be dynamic in all sense.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

AKSHAYA TRITIYA

The third day after the no moon day in the Vaisakha Month is celebrated as 'Akshaya Tritiya'.This year Akshaya Tritiya is on Tuesday 24 April 2012.
We all know that we are all blessed by God to have this human life which is much above than any other creatures on this earth.Akshaya Tritiya is a day to express our love and gratitude towards God.Whatever
deeds done on this day will bear good results.Everybody will have several problems-financial problems,health problems,work problems,business problems etc etc.God can understand the problems facing by us and he will
minimize them if we pray to him on Akshaya Tritiya day with full devotion by taking fasting.
Buying new clothes,Gold and other precious articles on this day is auspicious and it is believed that we will not
feel the scarcity of those items for ever.
This day is also important to do offerings to the souls of our dead relatives.The blessings of our dead relatives will
be helpful in our life.
On Akshaya Tritiya day it is very much auspicious and beneficial if we can take bath in Ganga River.This day is also the birth day of 'Lord Balarama'.
Performing Pooja rituals to Lord Shiva,Visiting Mount Kailas,Taking bath in holy river Ganga, performing
pooja rituals to Lord Vishnu etc are all good to be  done on this day.
Akshaya Tritiya is  the day which provides all kinds of prosperity which will remain for ever(literally akshaya means which will lasts for ever or which will not finish up or cease) and so housewives should get up early in
the morning, and after taking bath they should light five wick ghee lamp and pray 'Ashta Lakshmi' and Maha
Lakshmi(Of course  after praying Lord Ganesha).They should chant Ashta Lakshmi Sthothra,Maha Lakshmi Sthavam,Kanaka Dhara Sthavam etc.
as many times as possible.In the evening also pray like this in front of ghee lamp.Taking meals only once on that day is better.Fruits and milk may be consumed
during other meal times if necessary Gents and children can also perform this Pooja.Children will be blessed for their better studies and a good future..Chanting Mahalaksmi 'Beeja Mantra' is also necessary."Ohm Shreem
Hreem Shreem Kamale Kamalalaye Praseeda Praseeda Shreem Hreem Shreem Mahalaksmye Namah"
Chanting this mantra 108,1008,10008 numbers can be done as possible.
Starting any kind of work on this day  will bring good results.Wedding,house warming,starting of new shops


and business,foreign trip etc can all be performed on this day which will be a success.
It is said that if we pray to God on Akshaya Tritiya day  enemies will change their mind and become our friends.
If all the members of the family jointly pray to God on this day it will bring prosperity, peace and happiness.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"VISHU"

Vishu is a very important festival of Kerala which is celebrated with  joyous enthusiasm all over the state
by the Hindus.In olden days it marked the new year but the Malayalam Calendar now followed in Kerala
known as 'Kolla Varsham' starts with the month Chingam which falls in August.Anyhow now a days also people consider this as the beginning of a new year and as a new start for every thing.Indians believes that  a good
start for all good things in life is essential  and this new year is started with a pleasant viewing  of pleasing things including
God's image,Ghee lamp,flowers, fruits,Gold,Silver,coins,etc.
The transit of Sun in to the first Zodiac sign which is known as 'Medam Raasi'( in Malayalam) is celebrated as
Vishu.By the word 'Vishu' which is in  Sanskrit means equal.In the olden days  on 'Vishu',  "day and night" was of equal
time.(But the variations happened through centuries and not  equal at present)The Sun rises exactly on the center part of east on this day(Not any deviation to north or south).
As in any other  Hindu  festivals there are some  myths  about Vishu also  such that  according to one belief on this day was the demon "Narakasura' was killed by
Sree Krishna and Vishu is celebrated because of that.There is another version that Ravana was not allowing
the Sun to rise exactly on  the east but in a deviated position only in his life time.The day next to Ravana's death Sun
could rise exactly on the eastern horizon  and that day denotes Vishu.
When was Vishu started can not be predicted.From the time of Lord Sree Krishna itself it was celebrated.(which means before 5000 years itself)
In the 'Purana Manjari' stories it is mentioned that 'Sathya Bhama' who was one spouse of Krishna used to
arrange for 'Kani Darshan'(Seeing the auspicious items after waking up on Vishu day).Krishna asked 'Rukmini' his other
wife why she was not interested to do that arrangements.Rukmini who loved Krishna more than Sathya Bhama replied that what ever items were arranged there she could see only 'Sree Krisha' in all of them and so
she was not bothered about the items Sathya Bhama arranged.
In another story it is stated that the yellow flower which is used for Vishu 'Konna Flower' (Casia fistula) was
white in color.Once Devi Parvathy visited the house of 'Kasyapa Prajapathy' and his wife a very beautiful woman   was busy for the arrangement for the next day's Vishu.Devi Parvathy also accompanied her for plucking 'Konna Flowers' and
seeing the  extreme beauty of both of  them the eyes of 'Konna Flowers' turned yellow and from then on Konna flowers are yellow in color.We can understand that such stories are imaginary made up stories but Vishu
is celebrated in Kerala from very ancient period is a truth.
On the previous night of Vishu day, the Pooja room is cleaned, new silk cloth spread for keeping the photos
of Gods.A picture or Statue (Idol) of Bala Gopala(Young Sree Krishna) is placed on a stand.An Oil lamp
(Nila Vilakku) is placed in front of that.Three oil lamps will be much more better.In a bell metal vessel known as 'Uruli' is placed raw rice,mango,jack fruit,ripe yellow color bananas,yellow or orange color cucumber,cashew fruit with the nut on it,apple,orange,grapes,etc are kept.A coconut cut in to two halves
are also placed in it.In the coconut halves by adding ghee and putting wicks it can be burned as lamps also.




New silk cloth, washed white Dhoti etc are placed  on a clean plate.A holy book either 'Bhagavat Gita or Bhagavatham is also placed. A small brass pot heaped with  rice is also kept.In another vessel or plate gold coins,silver coins (or gold ornaments) and coins to distribute to the members of the family and others are kept.A long tailed mirror known as 'Val Kannadi',Bindi,eyeliner paste,a grass item known as
'Karuka',peacock feather etc are arranged and all over it is spread 'Konna Flowers'(Casia fistua).Another mirror  is also placed there.(This is to remind us that we should understand that 'God is there in us as well as others also')The eldest
of the female in the family gets up early in the morning around 4 or 4.30 and lights up the lamps and see
the 'Kani Darsanam' first.She leads and  brings the other members of the family one by one to the pooja room for
the kani darshanam.They opens their eyes after reaching the pooja room only.The older people and sick
people are shown the 'Uruli' by taking it to them.The cows in the family are also shown the 'kani' by taking the uruli to their shed.
The elders distribute  coins to the youngsters after the kani darshan.Many people keep that coins for the
next one year as an auspicious item.
On the Vishu day we revere God Krishna mainly but by keeping the long tailed mirror we denote Devi
Parvathi, the Goddess of Sakthi(energy and power),by placing gold,silver and coins we denote Goddess
Lakshmi Devi  of wealth and prosperity, by placing the holy book we denote Saraswathi Devi, Goddess
of Wisdom and knowledge.The lamp light removes the ignorance and fills our minds and life with brightness.We wish and hope with prayers for the next year to be blessed with Health,Wealth,Happiness
and all kinds of splendid prosperity in all aspects.
On the previous evening and early morning of Vishu children lights crackers and fireworks.Sweets and feast
as usual in other festivals are also made for Vishu.
At Guruvayoor temple,Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple,Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa temple,Mookambika
temple etc thousands of devotees reach and wait from the previous day itself for 'Kani Darsanam' and
for getting 'Vishu Kaineetam'(the coin received from priest of the temples) which they keep as precious for
the next one year which will bring good fortune.
In almost all other states of India this day is auspicious as a festival day.In Tamil Nadu it is new year day,in Karnataka and Andhra it is celebrated as 'Ugadhi', in Maharashtra it is 'Gadi Padwa' it is 'Bihu' in Assam and 'Baisakhi' in Punjab and so on.
This year Vishu Festival is on 14 April 2012.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple,Thiruvananthapuram

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum  has earned worldwide fame.This centuries old Shrine belongs
to the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu which are known as "Divya Desams'.Only 11 temples are in this category
in Kerala out of which 5 are Pancha Pandava temples.(Pancha Pandava temples are temples of Lord Vishnu
which were established in Kerala  by each one of the Pandava Princes 5000 years back and they are
Trichittattu Temple in Chengannur,Thrippuliyoor temple in Chengannur ,Aranmula Parthasaradhy Temple,
Thiruvanvandoor temple, in Chengannur Taluk and Thrikkodithanam Temple in Kottayam District..
The deities of these temples are worshipped by Vaishnavites and they travel all over India to visit all these temples.One of the 108 abodes of Vishnu is situated in Nepal and one is the celestial abode.Other 106 temples










are in India and most of them are in Tamil Nadu.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple has so many special features.The idol of this temple is made up of 'Kadusarkara Yogam' which is a mixture of several materials and the main content is 12000 'Salagramas'(typical smooth stones collected from river 'Gantaki' of Nepal).Gravel from River Ganges etc
and several Ayurvedic ingredients are  mixed with molasses.The idol of Padmanabha Swamy is possessing
gold covering also and adorned with gold ornaments.The 'Abhishekam' is not performed on this idol but only on the idol which is taken out for procession etc which is known as 'Ulsava Bimbam'.The idol of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is 18 feet long and can not be seen in full view.It can be viewed through 3 different doors of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
The Gopuram and several other structures were made during and after 16th century.The 'Gopuram' is 100 feet
high and  is  seven storeyed.The flag staff is 80 feet high.It was Anizham Thirunal 'Marthanda Varma Maharajah' who did several renovation works in this temple.
There are deities of 'Narasimhaswamy'  and 'Thiruvambady Krishnan' which are also having much importance
in this temple.The idols of these deities are also taken out for 'Aarattu' procession to 'Sankum Mugham beach'.
At Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple there  are two annual main festivals 'Painkuni Festival' and 'Alpasi Festival'.Both these festivals are celebrated for 10 days each and the Painkuni Festival will be in March-April
and Alpasi Festival during October-November.
During the 'Painkuni Festival' statues of 'Pandava Princes'  adorned with red color attire  are placed on the
front side of the temple on the eastern side as a tradition and custom.These idols made out of wood was
used earlier which was recently replaced with fiber-glass statues.These statues are not placed there during
''Alpasi" festival.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sreevaraham Lakshmi Varaha Temple,Thiruvananthapuram

Sreevaraham Lakshmi Varahamurthy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is popular as 'Sree Varaham Temple' and is situated   near East Fort at 'Sreevaraham' and very near to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.Lord Mahavishnu's ten incarnations are very famous and the tenth one 'Kalki'(Khalgi) is yet to come and we know all  these incarnations
were taken by the God  for  genuine causes  mainly to save the earth or the humanity  from disasters.
 As per the legend  Lord Maha Vishnu took the first incarnation 'Matsyavathara' to regain Vedas, the second 'Koormavathara' to behold Mandhara
mountain in place at the time of churning of 'Palaazhy' for getting nectar.The third 'Varahavathara' was taken
to preserve the earth itself from danger.Varaham means 'boar'.
The temples of 'Varaha Murthi' in India are  very less.All over India Varaha Murthy temples are around 23 only.
In Kerala 3 temples are in this category,In Tamil Nadu  there are five temples,In Karnataka 3, In Orissa 2,
in Rajasthan 2, Andhra Pradesh 3 and so on.
In Kerala out of the three Varaha Murthi temples two are Laksmi-Varaha Murthi Temples means with the idol
of Varaha Murthi Lakshmi Devi's idol is also included and they are depicted together( Out of these 23 temples such temples are also a few).



In  Kerala Varaha Murthi temples are there at (1) Panniyoor Varaha Moorthi  temple in  Anakkara,Palakkad District, (2) at  Trivandrum Lakshmi Varaha Murthi  Temple at Sree Varaham,  Fort, in Thiruvananthapuram City
(3)Sree Varaha Murthi temple,Pannoor, Thodupuzha-Idukki Road.
The Lakshmi Varaha Murthi  Temple in Thiruvananthapuram  is an ancient one which dates back to more than 5000 years.The precedence can be felt there by the structures and the  devotee will feel a calm atmosphere which
relieves the tension inside the temple compound which lies in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram  city just 1.5 km from
 Central Railway station and Bus Station.The area where the temple is existing is known as 'Sree Varaham'.
Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is only half km from here.
The idol of Sree Varaha Murthi  is in sitting posture and on his left thigh  is sitting Lakshmi Devi who is his consort.
It is believed that the Varaha Murthi of this temple is 'Yagna Varaha' and also  'Udyoka Karaka'.Because of that
by revering him unemployed devotees  may be blessed to get employment.Lakshmi Devi will provide  welfare and prosperity.

Thursdays are important here and more auspicious to visit the Lord.
Those who want employment can pray to him with the following mantra.
                  "Varaha Roopam Devam Loka Nadham Maheswaram
                    Medhiniyudharakam Vande Raksha Raksha Daya Nidhe"
Recite this as many times as possible every day  with full devotion thinking of  Sree Varaham Lakshmi Varaha
Murthi. May God bless the aspirant devotees.

This temple has the largest temple pond in Kerala having an area of 8 acres  and is known as Varaha Theertham.The priests coming for the 'Murajapam' ritual which takes place once in six years at Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple takes bath in this pond.In olden days it was connected with Karamana river.The pond was cleaned in 2012.During  Onam days for the past several years boat
races are held in this pond.
The temple has Kerala style design and architecture.The sanctum sanctorum is round in shape and 'Chuttambalam' (outer building of the sanctum) is square shaped.The roof of the sanctum is covered with copper plates.There is golden flag-staff in the temple.
The annual festival which is known as Painguni Ulsavam   is celebrated during the Malayalam month Meenam (March-April).Varaha Jayanthi which is in the same month Meenam is  also celebrated in a grand manner.
There are sub-Deities of  'Lord Ganapathy,Lord Sree Krishna,Nag Devtas,Yakshiamma etc.
The temple timings is  morning 5 a.m to 11.00 a.m and in the evening
5.00 p.m to 8.15 p.m.
The temple administration is by Travancore Devaswom Board.

'Eating one time  meal on his birthday(Varaha Jayanthi) and reciting  'Om Namo Narayanaya' many times and the above mantra as many times as possible can
be practiced by all to get the blessings of Lord Maha Vishnu and Lakshmi Devi.

ARATTUPUZHA POORAM

Arattupuzha pooram Festival is conducted on the Pooram Star day in the Month of Meenam at Arattupuzha
Sastha Temple in Trichur District of Kerala.Arattupuzha pooram is the oldest of all Pooram Festivals in
Kerala.Trissur Pooram which has earned much more fame worldwide was started  in the recent past only.
Because of these two Pooram festival Trichur is a renowned place in the tourist map of Kerala.For viewing
Arattupuzha Pooram and Trichur Pooram tourists from many parts of India and abroad reaches there on those occasions. 
Arattupuzha is only 14 km from Trichur City and the Pooram festival is held in the premises of the Dharma Sastha Temple situated there.The deities of all the temples nearby are brought here on Caparisoned Elephants
adorned with colored Umbrellas and other parasols and a procession held with the deity of Sastha Temple
with the lead and summoned on the Pooram ground.More than 250 musicians will play the traditional temple
musical instruments of Drums,Nadaswaram, etc .Panchavadyam which is an orchestra with mainly five musical
instruments is played in front of the Caparisoned Elephants.A group of drum artistes will perform 'Panchari Melam' a typical musical extravaganza. Musical concerts using 'Nadaswaram' by so many artistes creates a
typical festive mood.Thousands of spectators will be gathered on the vast ground to enjoy all the spectacular
events.
At midnight procession on Caparisoned elephants with colorful pageantry  is held with 'Thripayar Thevar's deity
leading the group of elephants.These processions are known as 'Kootty Ezhunnellippu' or 'Deva Mela' since
different deities of temples including Gods and Goddesses are summoned at the same place.It is believed
that the 'Gods' will literally summon there to witness the Pooram Festival and so really it is a 'Deva Mela' in
all sense.
On the day prior to the Pooram day Elephant race is  held  here as a tradition which was done yesterday.
After the rituals at night all the deities of the temples which had gathered for the 'Pooram' will be returned
to their respective places.
Earlier there were more than 100 elephants gathered for the Arattupuzha Pooram Festival but now a days
usually 61 Elephants are participating which means deities of 61 nearby temples are participating in this
festival.
Stunning Fire works are also held after the processions as a tradition which also will be a spectacular sight.






Trichur Railway Station is only 14 km from Arattupuzha.Buses to all places are also available from Trichur.