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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_best.com)
Date: Wed Oct 30 1996 - 11:12:53 PST
News about Navaratri in Srirangam from our friends Keshava Dasan and Bhakti Devi. -- Navaratri festival has begun here in Sri Rangam. We went on Sunday night to Thayar Sannidhi which is a large complex in the north of the Ranganath Temple complex. Goddess Ranga nachiyar (MahaLaksmi) came out on a silver palaquin wearing many beautiful neclaces of pearls, diamonds, etc. Her hands were covered with diamond kavacas. She looked very beautiful. The palaquin was taken around her temple inside a large covered colonade, and then she rested in a mandapa and was shown her image in a large mirror mounted on the wall. At that time the Sri Rangam Jeer Swamiji and other hereditary Vaishnavas accepted prasadams and tirtha (caranamrta) and had the Goddess's setari (shoes) placed on their shoulders and head as a sign of benediction. She never leaves her own temple complex like a chaste wife who never leaves the husband's house. Lord Ranganath comes on one day a year the star of Uttiram in Phalguni month. However there is also small deities of Sri devi and Bhu devi in the main sanctum with Lord Ranganatha. Afterwards she goes inside to the Golu Mandapam and the devotees crowd in to take darshan and prasadams. Later everyone goes outside to a huge covered mandapa where the temple elephant Andal wearing big ankle bells and golden head-dress takes 9 three legged hops while playing a harmonica in her trunk. She also waves a silver handled chamari (yak tail whisk fan) with her trunk in the direction of the Goddess inside the shrine. Beside her are large white Kodai (umbrellas) and a group of nadesvaram and drum players. The whole atmosphere is very festive. More later. Keshava das To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1996 10:55:57 IST+530 Subject: Tiruvalli Sevai Priority: normal X-mailer: Pegasus Mail v3.22 During the Navaratri Celebrations here there is a special seva in which Goddess Ranga Nayaki is dressed in such a way that her feet may be seen. This special alankara is performed only once a year and is a special blessing on the devotees present. My wife and I were especially carefull not to miss out on this special occasion. After the usual procession with the deity around the inner courtyard of the Thayar sannidhi. The palaquin stopped in a small mandapa so that devotees could receive prasadams, tirtha and setari. At this time I was standing next to a very learned looking vaishnava who asked about our native place, etc. He turned out to be Mr. Eillaiyavilli Satakopan Bhu Varahan, an Acharya purusha, whose family hails from Alvar Tirunagari. He now resides in Bangalore and is giving regular classes on Bhagavat Visayam. On Sarasvati puja day there was a big tirumanjanam of Goddess Mahalaksmi in the evening to mark the end of the Navaratri Celebrations. Over 100 silver pots of fragrant water was poured over the deity while hundreds of devotees sat watching in the Golu mandapa. Vijay Dasami day commences with Lord Ranganatha heading out of the temple at 8am through the eastern gate. His palaquin stops for offering of breakfast naivedyam at a small mandapa just opposite our house. My wife distributed pan, bananas and daksina to the brahmins accompanying the procession. After offering of naivedyam the procession moves on to the Singha Perumal Koil Temple. Here the Lord rests in a mandapa until early evening when he mounts his golden horse vahana for a hunting festival. A demon has assumed the form of a tree in the temple grounds. The Lord with the aid of an archaka shoots arrows from his bow and pierces the tree, thus killing the demon. After this the procession heads back via sattara vidhi to the temple, stopping only at the train crossing as a train is passing at just this moment. NEWS FLASH: Vijay Dasami, HH Alagiya Singha Swamiji (45th Jeer) of Sri Ahobila Math was visiting Sri Rangam. My wife and I met with the Swamiji and received his blessings along with darshan of Malola Nrsimha and Dasaavataras. The Swamiji also invited us to attend his 70 th birthday celbrations at Tirumala a few days from now. NEWS FLASH: The President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma arrived today in Sri Rangam (26th Oct). He along with several Tamil Nadu ministers including the ministers for food, and charitable endowments officially opened the new Sri Andvan Arts and Sciences College. The college is situated near to the train crossing on Gandhi Rd, Sri Rangam. The function was held in a huge specially constructed pandal in NE Uttara St just outside the Sanskrit College. Most of the speeches were in English. In his speech the president said that it was up to the educators of today to inculcate the values espoused by Saint Ramanuja in the youth. He also spoke of the role of Sri Ramanuja as reformer and champion of the lower classes. The Alvars he said stood out as an example of supreme devotion to God not being the sole right of any one class in society.