Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PURI RATH YATHRA

Puri Jagannath Temple in the coastal town of Puri  in Orissa State  is  one of the most sacred
pilgrimage center in India.It belongs to one among the 'Char Dham'  that a Hindu should suppose to visit at least once in their life time. The 'Char Dham' temples  are " Rameswaram,Badrinath, Puri and Dwaraka".






The Puri Jagannath Temple is dedicated to Lord Srikrishna and equal importance is given to deities, existing here which are  his brother Balarama and  sister Subhadra.
To commemorate the journey of Lord  Krishna from Gokulam to Mathura,  every year a 'Temple car Festival' is conducted here  known as Puri Jagannath Yathra, Puri Rath Yathra

Dasavathara Yathra etc.
The temple at Puri  existed from pre- historical times itself and it was attacked by invaders
several times.The existing temple we see today was made in the 11 th century.The Jagamohana and Vimana portions were made by Eastern Ganga dynasty king  Anantavarman  Chodaganga Deva  on the ruins of the existed temple.The remaining works were completed by the King Ananda Bhima Deva.
The Ratha Yathra is being done there from medieval times  with intense religious fervour.
Several Saints like Sankaracharya,Madhavacharya,Guru Nanak, Chaitanya Maha Prabhu etc
 visited and worshiped Puri Jagannath. 'The word 'Jagannath' means the Lord of the Universe.
The temple structure is unique in construction design and every year three chariots are made as replica of the temple and the main temple deities Sri Krishana ,Bala Bhadra(Bala Rama) and Subhadra are carried on them to a temple situated two km away by drawing them with ropes by the devotees.In the temple there are several  other sub deities other than the main deities Krishna,Balabhadra and subhadra and they are also included in the Chariots of these main deities.
Every year new chariots are made for this purpose and the work for that will be started on
Akshaya Tritiya Day by a function known as Chandana Jatra..A particular type of wood is used for the construction  of the Chariots
and  a number of  craftsmen and weavers have to work for several months to get it finished
as per the requirements.The Chariots will be 45 feet high and will be fitted  each with a dozen wheels which will have 7 feet diameter. The Chariots will be very large and heavy.
Several priests will be seated on it and the chariots will have to be pulled to the destination at  another temple known as 'Gundicha Temple' which is 2km away.The Idols will be kept
there for one week and the return journey to the Puri Jagannath Temple will take place 
again with the same  enthusiasm.In the to and fro procession more than one million devotees
take part.A  glance of the deities in the Chariots,a chance to touch the chariots, a golden chance to pull the ropes awhile are all considered very auspicious by the devotees which will remove all our sins  and hence the crowd is increasing year by year.Sacrificing under the wheels of the chariots was considered a  great devout  act  earlier but now a days it is not allowed.


Crores of rupees is spent every year for the construction of the chariots  and its decoration works 
along with the other expenses for the procession every year.The return journey is known
as 'Bahada Yatra'.To and fro journeys will be accompanied by millions of devotees.This festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra,Ghosa Jatra,Navadina Jatra etc  .The deities
known as Ulsava Murthis in South India  which are used for procession are carried on the chariots and the
original idols are not used.In  North India  Ulsava Murthis are known as 'Chalanti Pratima' and in Orissa it is known as 'Bije Pratima'.
Once, centuries ago a  crown prince of Puri (may be of Kingdom Kalinga) visited the neighboring Kingdom
and stayed there for a short period along with his  Prime Minister.He met the princess of
that Kingdom during those  days and the prince fell in love with her.Meanwhile the prince's father fell ill  and when the message was reached to him    he went back to his place.His father died after some days.The young prince attained the throne as the new King.He send messengers after some months to the neighboring Kingdom  about his wish to  marry the princess .The Prime Minister of that country visited  Puri Kingdom to see the condition of that country  as per the  order and wish  of Princess's father.
He reached Puri on the Rath Yathra day and what he witnessed  was the scene of  Young King with a golden
broom   sweeping  the road in front of the Rath Yathra.It was a custom followed by the 
'Rulers' of that Kingdom to show their humbleness to the deity and the citizens.They wanted    to glorify the deity 'Jagannath' by being a humble servant of him.The
foolish Prime Minister of the princess's Kingdom  could not understand the  devout of King's act  and he reported badly
about this to his King.They sent a  message to our  Young King  that they  did not want a sweeper as their princess's
husband.
The Young King when got this message felt very much angry about this insult  and in his fury he ordered his army  to attack the neighboring country.In the first attempt of the  battle he failed but after a few months he  attacked again and defeated them.He put the princess's father(The King of that Kingdom) in jail.He captured the princess and brought her  to  Puri.He gave her in the  Prime Minister's custody and ordered  him to make
arrangements for her marriage to a  sweeper.The King  did not bother about these incidents again and did not ask about her's  whereabouts there after.The neighboring country was  annexed to his Kingdom and he became the king of both the Provinces.
The Prime Minister who was knowing all the secrets of King's love towards the princess did not give her in marriage to a sweeper.He allowed her to live in harmony in a separate  palace and allotted   the 
aid of maid  servants   to  look  after her properly.When on the day of   the  next Puri Ratha Yathra took place Our Young  King as usual took the golden  broom and   was sweeping the road in front of the procession 
as per their tradition.The Prime minister asked the princess to
garland him on  that occasion.She put a flower  garland  on  him.The King was puzzled and astonished to see  the girl he loved earlier  deep by heart. He  looked that pretty  girl who looked  like a fairy in wonder.
The Prime Minister came to her rescue and told the  Young  King that he was the  only suitable sweeper in the Kingdom for her.The King enjoyed that comment and joke of the Prime Minister since he was in the role as a sweeper at that moment.The King was actually in intense  love for her but acted rudely because of her father' s foolish actions. The King accepted her happily as his queen.He released her father from jail and gave back his Kingdom also.







Thursday, June 21, 2012

AMARNATH TEMPLE

Amarnath Cave temple in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is dedicated to Lord Shiva and
a pilgrimage to this holy land is conducted every year in the month of 'Shravana' for 45 days
  during July-August.Amarnath Cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 feet) and 
it is situated 141 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Inside the 130 feet holy cave the Shiv Linga which is formed from Snow/ice  can be witnessed during May to August  and it wanes thereafter.The Lingam reaches in good heights and good  form during the 'Shravana Mela' when pilgrims  are visiting this shrine.
Many Hindus believe visiting this Shrine at least once in their  life time is very much auspicious. But in the adverse weather conditions and difficult mountainous paths trekking is
not easy and at the  high ranges breathing easily may be also affected because of scarcity of
air.Yet the Amarnath pilgrimage is happening every year with vigour and vitality by the aspirant devotees in hundreds and thousands.Last year in 2011, a total of 634000 devotees
visited Amarnath Cave temple during the 45 day  Amarnath Mela.
Many devotees  go to the cave through 'Phalgam town' route and another route also is available.Buses and cars reach up to 'Chandanwari' and then the pilgrims have to move on foot,or use pony or can get help from Dandies(Chairs carried by porters).There are limited
helicopter services  available the details which can be made available from reputed travel agencies.
The pilgrimage to Amarnath temple can be performed  only by  Government registration.
Only physically and mentally capable people  select this pilgrimage which is not an easy task.
All pilgrims should carry  good quality woolen clothes.
Pilgrims may take with them dry fruits and energy giving chocolates etc.They should carry
enough money.
Comfortable walking shoes,Walking sticks,torch,raincoat,windcheater and medical kit should be carried with them.Pilgrims should obey the sign boards warnings.
En route to the cave various organisations are offering free food and sheltering to the devotees which are known as 'Pandals'.Tents for hire are also available on the way.
The devotees should travel along with experienced people or travel  along with other groups.
Falling rocks ,avalanches etc  should be taken care of.
The Amarnath temple is believed to be more than 5000 years old.In ancient texts dating
back to centuries before Christ mentions about Amarnath temple and pilgrimage details  are given.
There are references about this temple and pilgrimage in  several old texts including the  one
found which belonged to the  time of 'Akbar the Great'.
According to Hindu mythology Lord Shiva revealed the secret of Life and Immortality to
his consort Goddess Parvati Devi inside the Amarnath Cave.When Parvati Devi inquired
about  immortality to him,  he selected this serene isolated place to reveal  that great secret
of 'Amar Katha'.He left his vehicle 'Nandi'  the bull at Phagalgam,released the moon which was  on his forehead at Chandanwari,Snakes he dropped at Sheshnag,Lord Ganesha was asked to stay at
Mahaguna Parvat,the five elements of life was left at Panjitarni.He created 'Rudra'(Kalagni)
and ordered to afire inside the cave to eliminate any living thing there and entered the cave with Parvati and revealed the secret of eternity and immortality.But however two pigeon
eggs beneath Shiva's deer skin attire  remained there unharmed and two pigeons hatched out of
them which  became immortal.Devotees claim that  many them witnessed the two pigeons inside 








and also  outside the cave in that cold weather and in that high altitude.The cave is the abode of that immortal birds for centuries.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THIRUCHENDUR MURUGA TEMPLE

Thiruchendur or Thirucheer alaivai  is a holy place near Thirunelveli of Tamilnadu State
in India where exists  one of the most sacred temples of Muruga who is Subramanya,son of
Lord Shiva and Parvathy Devi.
This temple is the second of the 'Aarupadai Veedu',  which the  Saint poet "Nakeerar' praises in  his songs
of  'Senthil Andavar' (Lord Subramanya).'Arupaidai Veedu' are places of   six holy and 
most sacred temples of Lord Subramanya is now  existed , and these  were the places where he fought against evil demons.
The other five 'Padaiveedu' where famous temples  of Muruga are 
Thiruparamkundram Swami Temple,
Swamimalai Swaminathan  Swamy Temple,
Palani Dandayudhapani Swami Temple
Thiruthani Subramanya Swamy Temple
Palamudhirchola Subramanya Swami Temple
Marudumali Murugan Temple is also a well famous and a very sacred Subramanya Temple
which is considered as one like the above temples.
The temple at Thiruchendur existed from pre-historic time itself  as a Shiva temple which was built by 'Mayan' the sculptor of 'Devas'.Lord Muruga fought with the demon 'Soora Padmasura' on the sea shore of
Thiruchendur according to the order  of Lord Shiva and he  worshipped Lord Shiva  before and after the battle in this temple.Later Subramanya was also consecrated in this temple and
the temple  got fame in his name.
Out of the six 'Aarupadai Veedu' of Lord Muruga only this temple is situated on a plane near
the sea shore and  all the other five temples  are situated on hilltops.
The battle  against the demon 'Soorapadma' was very fierce and at the end Lord Muruga
pierced him in to two pieces out of which one piece turned out to be a cock which became
his flag icon and the other part became a peacock which he made his vehicle(Vahanam).Thus
Subramanya became 'Mayil Vahanan' (One who is having peacock as the vehicle).
The Sanctum of this temple is actually below sea level but sea water do not enter the temple
The strength and size of the waves diminishes as it approaches the shore near the temple. Like that  the devotees claims that the sorrows and tension of the devotees will be lessened when
they enter this temple compound itself.When the nearby places were all flooded in the 2004
December Tsunami,  sea water did not enter Thiruchendur Temple.
On two sides of the temple, compound walls of height fifteen feet are built here.
After  the visit of the deity and worship  the devotee should not go near the sea is the belief here, otherwise the blessing of the God will be transformed from us to the sea.The sea near this
temple is Bay of Bengal and is considered as a King by the devotees.Before entering the temple we have to pay a homage to the sea.
There are three main Gopurams (Tower) here and the 'Raja Gopuram' on the western side
is the tallest and largest one.
The ritual etiquette of this temple is Kerala Style.This temple is a massive one and there are
2000 priests in this temple and they are known as 'Deekshithars'.After the  opening of the temple  in the early
morning it will not be  closed  during the noon.It will be closed  only at  night.There are
nine 'Pooja rituals' done on all days.The temple can be visited at any time from early morning
till it closes at night.Every day pilgrims in thousands arrive at this temple for worship.
As in other Muruga temples 'Panchamritham' is a main offering here also.Kerala and Tamilnadu breakfast item 'Dosa' is also included as an offering here.
The sub deities of this temple includes Lord Shiva,Kala Bhairava, Guru(Vyazha)Bhagawan,
Sathrusamhara Moorthy,Saneeswaran,Maha Vishnu etc.
'Shashti' is celebrated with importance, and the annual festival is in the month of'Avani'.'All Thursdays,Fridays,Saturdays and Sundays' are considered more sacred here and the number of devotees will be more on those days.Those who are having astrological problems of Planet Jupiter and Mars (Vyazha Dosham and Chovva Dosham)  visit this temple to get relief from them.
The sacred ash which is given after pooja ritual to Lord Muruga in a certain plant  leaf known as
'Jala Vibhoothi Prasadam' if kept in our home will keep away all kinds of evil spirits and the family members 
will not be  affected by  the bad effects of any kinds of evil spirits or black magic  is a belief.Moreover it will
work as  a medicine to cure several  ailments(leprosy,T.B., Diabetes,Fits,Typhoid, etc) is also believed.
The temple is situated 51 km from Thirunelveli.Can be reached easily by car and Bus.




Bus services to all parts of Tamilnadu are available from  there. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PANDURANGA TEMPLE,THENNANGUR

 The Panduranga temple in Thennangur near Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu State of India
differs entirely from other South Indian temple in looks and architecture.
The temple is dedicated to deities Panduranga and Rukumayi (Lord Krishna and Rukmini Devi)
and is a pilgrimage center of prominence.
This enormous and egregiously beautiful temple is situated in a serene place away from all
City crowds and gives a pleasant and calm atmosphere which will feel lovely to all devotees.
The temple premises, building and compound are all well kept neatly and beautifully.
The temple compound is attractive with flowering garden.
The gigantic entrance tower (Gopuram)  and outer structure of the temple resembles
'Puri'  'Jagannath Temple' of Orissa.
The entrance tower structure is 120 feet high and on the pinnacle of it 9 feet high divine
Golden 'Kalasam' is consecrated.Saffron color flag flies on the 'Gopuram' like North Indian style.
After entering the entrance Gopuram spacious 'Mandapa' can be seen.It is also quite big and
decorated with a large number of mural paintings.
From the Mandapa itself the deities of Panduranga and Rukumayi can be seen since the deities
are of 10.5 feet and 8.5 feet tall respectively.
The deities are decorated (Alamkaram) with different costumes and ornaments on six days of a week like
that of 'Balaji Temple of Thirupathi'.
For example on all  Saturdays the deity is decorated as 'Thirupathi Venkitachalapathi Swamy'.
On every Sundays  they are decorated in Rajasthan Style costumes and ornaments and a Rajasthan type turban is also worn to the Panduranga deity.
Once in an year the deity is decorated as 'Guruvayoorappan'.
Once in an year the deities are decorated with fruits of many kinds and thousands of fruits are
used for it.Finally the devotees will be  Marvelous to watch and devotees feel very much impressed  to see that decoration.
The decoration of the deities is known as 'Kalyana Ulsavam.'On the Gokulashtami day several types of attractive 'alamkaram' are done.
The temple has attachments of dining hall where free meals are served to the devotees
every day.
The temple runs an Institute to teach Hindu religious subjects and 'Vedas' for the aspirants
free of cost.
The temple also run an Old age home  for elderly people who are not looked after by 
their relatives.
There is a free Medical Clinic also run by the temple trust.
These activities are carried out by the funds collected from rich devotees and utilized for
the temple rituals, for the welfare of the poor and for the needs of the devotees.
Here the devotees are in a happy joyous mood and they sings and dance gleefully praising
the good graces of God and glorify him.This was the motif (Nama Sankeerthanam) of establishing this temple 
by Swami Haridas Giri who was the principal disciple of Swami Gnananda Giri Swami of
Tapovanam(Near Tirukoilur).
The main Gopuram is of Jagannatha temple style, the 'Raja Gopuram' is of South Indian
'Chola Style' and the presiding deities here are from Maharashtra.
National oneness and integration is denoted here by Swami Haridas Giri.
In the month of 'Adi'(June/July)  "Brahmotsavam" is celebrated here with special bhajans
mornings and evenings and the idols taken around the streets in procession.Brahmotsavam
will be celebrated for five days  every year.
Thennangur is believed as the birth place of Maduai
Meenakshi Devi.
There are other temples also in Thennangur and
Lakshmi Narayana temple is very famous which is
visited by the pilgrims to this place.