Thursday, October 22, 2015

' Vidyarambham ' Ceremony

In Kerala 'Vijaya Dasami' day is the 'Vidyarambham Day' on which the little children are initiated into the world of studies and Knowledge. The name of this  ceremony in Malayalam is  'Ezhuthiniruthu'.The children starts to write alphabets from this time on wards.The first alphabets of Malayalam language 'Hari Shree' will be written on the tongue of the child using gold by an eligible 'Acharya/Guru' and he will assist and guide the child by holding his/her right hand finger to write some Malayalam  alphabets in raw rice kept in a plate or 'Uruli'( a bronze vessel).
The morning hours of the 'Vijayadasami' day witness huge rush in famous temples and many other centers where the 'Vidyarambham' ceremony is held.At many publication houses of News papers,Magazines etc,some Popular clubs, Libraries etc also  organize Vidyarambham ceremony and employs highly educated and  well known scholars and dignitaries as 'Gurus' to provide the first lessons of knowledge to the kids.
There is a habit of selecting a most suitable time for all auspicious matters among the people and generally for 'Vidyarambham' most of the parents do not seek any particular  'muhurtham' for this purpose but utilize the forenoon of this day.
If the parents are very much keen to select a proper day as according to astrological factors to give Vidyarambam to their child they may consult an Astrologer.Mostly on 'Vijayadasami' day  the star will be 'Thiruvonam'  and it may not be suitable for a child born with the  birth star as 'Thiruvonam'.
This year Vijayadasami falls on 'Avittam Star' and a child born with this star may use another day for 'Vidyarambham' if the parents  are very much concerned about these facts.Some other factors are also taken into account by Astrologers for selecting the day/time  and also for selecting  the suitable 'Guru'.
The age of the child as per astrology  must be an  odd number.He/she should be of the  age 3 or 5 (not 2,4 or 6).
If a proper Guru/Acharya is not available,either  the Father or Uncle are most eligible to provide Vidyarambham to the kids.
At Panachikkadu Saraswathi Devi  temple, Mookambika Devi temple and at many other Saraswathi Devi  temples 'Vidyarambham' can be given to the child on any day of the year other than 'Durgashtami day and Mahanavami day'.

Dakshina Murthy temples are well suited for giving 'Vidyarambham' to the child.
In many Shiva temples there are separate idols of 'Dakshina Murthy' who is another form of Lord Shiva.Dakshina Murthy is an Ocean of knowledge who clears the doubts of Mookambika Devi also is the belief.Providing 'Vidyarambham' to kids where there is 'Dakshina Murthy' idol would be beneficial.
At Vaikom Mahadeva temple, the deity is worshiped as Dakshina Murthy in the mornings, as 'Kiratha Murthy' in the noon and as  'Sachithananda Murthy' in the evenings.
This same practice is  followed at Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple at Mavelikkara and at Chendamangalam Puthiya Thrikkovil where the deity is worshiped as Dakshina Murthy in the mornings till  noon.Performing 'Vidyarambham' in these temples on 'Vijaya Dasami' day will be auspicious.
There is a  Dakshina Murthy temple at 'Sukapuram' in Eadappal Taluk of Malappuram District which is very famous.

Parents can provide  'Vidyarambham' at any  temple or at  any  Center  suitable as per  their choice and need not  think seriously about the astrological matters. They may 'initiate the learning process' ('Vidyarambham') on Vijayadasami day which is the 'Victory Day' with deep devotion and prayers for their Kids at any centers they prefer or even in their own  homes.
May Dakshina Murthy and Saraswathi Devi  shower their blessings on  the tiny 'Knowledge aspirants'.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Navarathri Festival at Thiruvananthapuram

According to  the  Hindu belief Goddess Saraswathi Devi is the deity for Learning,Wisdom,Arts,Literature etc.Saraswathi Devi temples are comparatively less in India than temples of  other deities.But since all Goddesses are separate forms of the same 'Mother  Goddess'  'Aadi Parasakthi' the celebration 'Navarathri' has much importance in all   'Devi' temples especially in temples of  'Parvathi,Lakshmi and Saraswathi'.Navarathri festival is also  well celebrated in Devi temples of 'Bhadrakali,Durga' etc.
 In Kerala more importance is given to Saraswathi Devi for Navarathri festival which is celebrated every year for nine days.'Vidyarambham' which is the initiation of studies for the kids is done on the 'Vijayadasami' day of Navarathri  in Kerala.This year 'Vijayadasami' day is on 23rd October 2015.Elder people prefer 'Vijayadasami' day to start learning something new and  important in their life; for example  classical art forms like 'Bharathanatyam,Kathakali' etc  or anything which requires good skill and intelligence.They all seek the blessings of Saraswathi Devi in this regard. 

Every year at Thiruvanathapuram 'Navarathri Festival' is celebrated in a unique way as per the traditional custom followed from the time of Maharajahs.For the Navarathri festival at Thiruvananthapuram, the Idol of 'Sarswathi Devi' from Padmanabhapuram 'Thevarakettu Temple', another deity  'Munnootti Nanka Devi' from 'Sucheendram temple' of Sucheendram in Kanyakumari District and yet another deity  'Lord Kumara Swamy (Lord Subramanya Swamy) of Kumara Kovil in Kanyakumari District are brought to Thiruvanathapuram in a procession and taken back after the ten day celebration.This practice was started when the Capital of Travancore Kingdom was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram from Padmanabhapuram.

'Sage Kambar'  was a famous scholar who  had in possession with  this 'Saraswathi Devi idol' which he worshiped.He gave it to a Chera King which ultimately reached in possession of 'Venad' Kings.It is at present worshiped  at 'Thevarakettu temple' of 'Padmanabhapuram Palace' where the Venad Kings were residing. Marthanda Varma Maharajah extended Venad Kingdom and  formed the 'Kingdom of Travancore'.  Later in 19th century the Capital was shifted to Thiruvanathapuram, and for the Navarathri festival  the custom of bringing these deities to the new capital city  was started.The 'Moola Vigraham' (Original Idol) of Saraswathi Devi is brought and a lighted lamp will be kept in its position at the sanctum of 'Thevarakettu temple' during those days.
Saraswathi Devi idol will be placed at the 'Navarathri Mandapam' situated near the eastern entrance of the  Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.Pooja rituals are done for the Devi at that place for those ten days and the public can worship her on those days at the 'Mandapam'.For the first three days 'Devi' will be worshiped as 'Saraswathi' next three days as 'Lakshmi' and the last three days as 'Durga'(Parvathy).
Every day 'Carnatic Music Concert' is held at the 'Navarathri Mandapam' and compositions by 'Maharajah Swathi Thirunal' will be given prime importance in them.
  'Keerthanams'(Carnatic Classical Devotional Songs) written and composed by the Maharajah in 'ragas' such as 'Sankarabharanam,Kalyani,Saveri,Thodi,Bhairavi,Panthuvarali,Sudha Saveri,Nattukurinji and Arabhi' are sung one each for the nine days and on the tenth day 'Mangalam' will be sung.'Keerthanams' of other composers are also sung in the concerts.
'Munnootti Nanka Devi' is none other than 'Parvathi Devi' and her idol is kept and worshiped at 'Chenthitta Devi temple' and 'Kumara Swamy' idol is worshiped at 'Aryasala  temple' on these days.Subramanya Swamy's idol is brought on a 'Silver Horse' which is centuries old from Padmanabhapuram  and it is also displayed at Aryasala temple during these days.
The deities will be taken back to their respective places on the 12th day in a colorful procession as same as the one in which they were brought to Thiruvanathapuram.
This year the procession started from Padmanabhapuram Palace on 11th October 2015 and reached Thiruvanathapuram on 13th evening.The procession back to Padmanabhpuram will start on 25th October.
At Thiruvananthapuram there are Saraswathi Devi temples at 'Poojappura Saraswathi Mandapam' and at 'Vattiyoorkavu Arappura Eeswari Amman Kovil' where this festival is celebrated with all its charm.'Carnatic Classical'

music concerts are held at 'Poojappura Saraswathi Mandapam' also during these days.

Navarathri festival has much importance in other  famous Devi temples of Thiruvananthapuram such as 'Attukal Devi temple,Pazhanchira Devi temple,Karikkakam Devi temple' etc also.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Panachikkadu Saraswathi Devi Temple

 The  most important Saraswathi Temple in India will be 'Mookambika Devi Temple' at Kollur near Uduppi in Karnataka State.The most important Saraswathi Temple in Kerala will be  Panachikkadu  Saraswathi Devi Temple  near Chingavanam at Eravinalloor,Panachikkad  in Kottayam District.This temple is also known as 'Dakshina Mookambika temple' and Vishnu is the main deity.Worshipers visit Lord Vishnu before worshiping Saraswathi Devi as per the custom.
The Deity Saraswathi Devi who is the Goddess of Arts and learning is blessing large number of devotees that visits  this temple everyday for more than  one thousand years.
Panachikkadu Saraswathi temple is 4 km from Chingavanam and 11 km from Kottayam town.
There is a story regarding the origin of this Saraswathi temple.1000 years ago a Nampoothiri Brahmin who hailed from a respected  Illam (House) which was known as 'Kizhupurathillam' was sad that he was not having a child.He wanted to go to Gaya(Kasi) to pray for this intention but on the way halted at Mookambika Temple for one year attending all the rituals there.All the time he was chanting prayers of Saraswathy Devi.One year passed and one day in his dream Goddess  Saraswathi Devi appeared and told him that he would not get a son of his own even if he go to Kasi and so adviced him to go back.
He was told that a pregnant woman at his native place hailing from the house  'Karunattillam' would give birth to twins and if he    requested she would   give him one baby.

So Nampoothiri returned back and visited that 'Karunattillam' and told them about the dream.They promised to give the Brahmin one child after  the woman's delivery .While going back happily  to his house he thought of visiting the Vishnu temple on the way.Old Brabmin  kept his palm leaf umbrella on the bank of the temple pond and took bath in the pond.After taking bath when he tried to take back his umbrella he found that it got fixed to the ground.He was not able to move it or take it up from there.Mean while a Sanyasi Saint came that way.He revealed the fact that Goddess Saraswathy's presence was  on the Umbrella which could be transferred to an idol which would bring prosperity to all.The saint himself  found   an old idol from  the nearby hillock.

The Devi's power on the umbrella was transferred to the idol.The Saint instructed not to do  pooja rituals on that idol but suggested to do those rituals on an  idol that he  kept opposite to it .This practice was followed in the temple which is continuing even now. 
Soon the original idol was covered with  peculiar creeper plants and for centuries it is remaining in that state.The original idol can not be seen.The leaves of the creeper plants cover it.Natural spring water flows from there and will not dries up even in summer.The water required for the temple purposes  is collected from there.
The main Deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu and other sub deities 'Lord Ganesha,Lord Shiva, are also in the temple. Much importance is given to 'Yakshi Amma' here.Those who come to the temple for worship should visit her shrine also.

If a devotee  could participate in all the pooja rituals held in this temple continuously   for 12 days and repeat this process   for another two more years Devi would grant them blessings  to the fullest and make all  their desires fulfilled is a belief.
But only very few can complete  this process for three consecutive  years because of unforeseen obstacles
Navaratri festival is celebrated with much importance in this temple during which thousands of devotees will be arriving.Exponents as well as  students of various art forms come to perform their art forms in front of  Saraswathi Devi to get her blessings for more perfection.
'Vidyarambham' (Initiation of studies of small children) for very large number of children are carried out on Vijaya Dasami Day.Since this is a powerful Saraswathi Temple every day "Vidyarambham' can be done here except two days 'Durgashtami' and 'Mahanavami'  in an year.
'Saaraswatha Ghritham' which is ghee processed with several Ayurvedic herbs is
kept for pooja at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi Devi and distributed to the devotees for a small price.It nourishes the brain of children and  boost their intelligence and memory power.