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Thiruvadipooram,Sri Andal Thiruther utsavam,Srivilliputtur

From: Venkat Iyengar S. (rsvenkat_at_aero.iitkgp.ernet.in)
Date: Sun Jul 26 1998 - 08:19:18 PDT

Dear members,

Tommorrow (27 july ,monday) is thiruvadipooram, the thirunakshatram
of Sri Andal,when the Andal thiruther utsavam will take place at
Srivilliputtur.Here is an account of the grand event which takes place
every year.

The Andal thiruther at Srivilliputtur is one of the largest in Tamil nadu
next only to the Thiruvarur thiruther.It is an excellent work of
craftmanship,with it's sides adorned with thousands of wonderful carvings
and passages cut inside to move around the ther.

            The thiruther festival is one of the most eagerly awaited 
festivals among the residents of srivilliputtur and nearby villages.A 
district holiday for virdunagar district (in which srivilliputtur is 
situated) is declared on thiruvadipooram day for the people from the 
nearby areas to participate in large numbers.

       For the festival the ther is decorated with long cylindrical 
cloth decorators which hang from the top of the colourful wooden 
superstructure(usually of 6 or 7 tiers),with the kalasam and the flag it 
stands at about 70 feet.white guidelines are drawn on the road over which
the ther wheels are supposed to roll over for a smooth passage.

       The ther goes around the four broad streets adjoining the temple 
called the ratha veedhis.The corners of the streets are lined with 
Thannner phandals and mooru (buttermilk) pandhals.

     Thiruvadipooram day .It is around 8:30 am.and there is a buzz around 
srivilliputtur with residents eagerly waiting for the procession to start 
which is usually around 9:00 am depending on the day of the week.The mamis
and elderly persons have occupied strategic positions on the houses 
lining the ratha veedhis.As a large crowd moves towards the ther, the 
police officials and other volunteers have a tough time in controlling 
them.Everyone is ready with the "vadam"(rope) on their hands.There are a 
total of 4 to 7 vadams attached for pulling the ther.The bulldozer on the 
back is ready.There are two persons on either side of the Ther holding 
red and green flags.Two boys are literally standing on the hydraulic 
brakes.some others are ready with the yennai(oil) for pouring it over the 
wheels as the ther moves along. The boys with the "kudil kattai's "
(small chips of wood) are also ready.

      With the sounds of Govinda Gopala the bhaktas keep increasing their
effort and in one sudden jolt the thiruther moves and comes out the its 
permanent location ("nilai").Devotees with all their effort pull the ther 
chanting Govinda Gopala.The massive ther moves slowly sometimes swaying 
along the sides in a rythymic fashion.

     As the ther is quite wide the margin for error is very less.Hence 
it has to be pulled as "straight" as possible along the white lines
drawn on the road.Occassionaly due to the enthusiasm of the devotees the 
ther sometimes gets pulled slightly sideways and the boys on the side
of the ther raise their red flags signalling the devotees to stop 
their effort.The boys on the brakes ,jump on the brakes to stop the 
ther .Once the ther has been stopped the volunteers decide how the ther 
should be pushed by the bulldozer and pulled by the devotees so that
the shift can be corrected.

        The ther also gets "stuck" when it encounters some of the soft 
spots on the street.The boys with the "kudil kattai's" anticipate such 
possibilities and throw wooden chips under the wheel so that when the 
wheel is stuck it can be pulled out from the spot with minimal effort.
When the portion has been mended and everything is ready, the boys on the 
sides of the ther show their green flags and it is time for the ther to 
move.

    Every now and then the BhaTTar swami performs the deepaaradhanai to 
the divyadampathis.

      It is around 12:30 pm now and many go for lunch.They tell their eager
relatives and neighbours that the ther is at such and such location,
have their lunch and take a small nap.The devout ones pull the ther till 
the official break is announced which is usually around 2:00 pm.

       At 4:30 pm it is time to start again.Everyone troops in slowly
to the place where the ther was left.The ther is pulled till it gets dark
(upto 6:30 or 7:00 pm)unless by that time the ther has reached its "nilai" 
which is generally rare.

    It usually takes slightly more than a day for the ther to reach it's 
nilai owing to various interruptions as it usually gets "stuck" and "off 
directed" quite a few times.After the ther reaches it's "nilai" everyone 
present there lines up for the darsanam to get the blessings of sri andal
and sri rangamannar.

Well more than a single day for the completion of the thiruther utsavam
may seem to be a lot of time,but when one considers the fact that in the 
earlier days it used to take more than a month for the procession to be
completed,it is a great improvement.Those days the ther was much larger 
standing well over 80 feet with 13 tiers.It had 13 wooden wheels.

     The thiruther utsavam was stopped some time ago and resumed 
later.Subsequently with the temple car modernization project undertaken 
by BHEL the wooden wheels were replaced with steel framed ones and 
hydraulic brakes were installed to regulate movement of the ther.

    Even today the participation in the thiruther utsavam has a special
attraction for all the srivilliputtur-vasis and one hopes to come again
and again to participate in the thiruther utsavam

   As the days go by the decorations are removed and the wooden tiers are 
dismantled leaving one with memories to linger on...till the next
thiruvadipooram

      Dear members,let us all pray to secure the grace and blessings of 
the Divine couple Sri Andal and Sri Rangamannar on this auspicious
occassion.

        Sri Andal Sametha Sri Rangamannar Thiruvadigale Saranam 

adiyen
Venkat S Iyengar
aerospace dept
IIT kharagpur