Maasi Magam Abishekam – Rituals to Cherish

March 2017

Maasi is the month (Feb-March) when the days are turning warmer after the pleasant cold weather of Margazhi and Thai. In temples all over Tamil Nadu, Maasi Magam  is a special day when the deities are given a holy ritualistic bath.In the temple of Lord Ardhanareeswara on Tiruchengode hill, this ritual is called the Maha-abhishekam, the ultimate abhishekam.

On Saturday, 11th March, 2017, our group of six members joined hundreds of participants of the maasi magam vizha as they congregated in the ancient Badrakali amman temple in Tiruchengode town. It is customary to begin the procession after prayers are offered to goddess Badrakali. The participants then walked along the very narrow and winding lanes of this historic town to the main ther veethi.

 At seven in the morning it was a scene of ethereal beauty as saffron clad devotees walked in silence, all bearing decorated pots of offerings of their choice for the abishekam. Folk dancers representing Siva and Parvati led the way.  At the main ther veedhi, the procession stopped briefly for a dance recital accompanied by music, and beautifully rendered by the folk dancers. As police-men made way for early morning traffic the procession moved slowly along the four ther veethis (chariot streets).

 The participants then went to the malai kovi (hill temple) of lord Ardhanareeswara for the maha-abhishekam.

ardhanareeswara temple on Tiruchengode hill 1
The temple on the hill

After darshan of Lord Ardhanareeswara, everyone waited for the abishekam to begin. This was no ordinary abishekam and the offering-pots contained a wide, interesting variety of sacred things. At the auspicious time the abishekam was first performed in the main sanctums of Senkotuvelavar(Murugan) and Ardhanareeswara. The beautiful utsava deities of Ardhanareeswara and Sengotuvelar were brought to the maha mandapam and placed on the central stone platform so that the rituals could be clearly viewed from all sides.The Maha abishekam commenced after the abishekam in the main shrines were completed.

A unique sight and an experience to cherish!

An awesome 1500 pots of milk, endless pots of vibhuti,honey,sandal-paste,,grapes,choppedbananas,sugarcanejuice,riceflour,panchamitham,turmeric,kalkandu(sugarcandy),panangarkandu-candy made from palm-sugar and pomegranatepearls were poured on the deities. Most of the offerings were collected and given back to the devotees as prasadam.

Faith And Blessing

Everyone present that day must have felt as I did, a divine peace and blessing fill the heart as the abishekam progressed. Seeing the abishekam was a purification of hearts and minds and   this cleansing deep inside gave strength of a divine kind, the courage to face the world with all its imperfections and trials. The divine blessing is a balm, a gentle reminder that on this hard journey of life God makes his presence felt in many, many ways. 

Pictures from the Masi Abishekam

Ardhanareeswarar
Utsavar of Lord Ardhanareeshwara is brought to the Maha Mandapam
masi magam in ardhanareeswara temple, Tiruchengode
The Utsavar of Lord Segottuvelar is placed alongside the deity of Lord Ardhanareeshwara
Preparing for abishekam in Tiruchengode temple
Preparing for the abishekam
Vibhuthi abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
Abishekam with vibhuti- the holy ash sacred to Lord Siva
abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
Water is poured on the deities after each abishekam
Palabishekam
Abishekam with milk
Abishekam
Abishekam is done with hundreds of pots of milk brought by devotees
Thaen abishegam in Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode
You are the essence of sweetness – Abishekam with honey
Thaen Abishekam
Like honey, May our lives be filled with the sweetness of Your Prescence
Alangaram
                         Alangaram                                           We come to you with faith – May our lives become richer and more beautiful !

Read more posts on Maasi Magam  and Ardhanareeshwarar Temple by           clicking on the links below

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MAKING A GANESHA

TRADITIONAL AND ECO-FRIENDLY

Wet clay becomes a deity as skilled fingers of a roadside  idol -maker makes a  Ganesha on request. These are the traditional Vinayakas with none of the toxic contents of paints and other things that go into the making of colorful Ganeshas. 

It is heartening to see lots of people still prefer the traditional unpainted clay Pillaiyar!

Happy Vinayaka Chathurti!

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ON THE EVE OF VINAYAKA CHATHURTHY

It is the eve of Vinayaka Chathurthy- a festival for Vinayaka also called Ganesh, Ganapathy or Pillaiyar depending on which part of the country you are in! One of India’s boisterous festivals, loved by young and old alike, it begins with the coming of Ganesha to individual homes and to neighbourhoods, the celebrations over the next few days, not to forget the yummy dishes that are offered to Him and then eaten as Prasad and the final journey to rivers or the sea where the idols are immersed. For the duration of His stay He is one of the household. I always feel sad when it is time for him to leave.

These pictures show Ganesh idols in my hometown, Salem.The featured image shows colourful parasols for Ganapathy and two little ones helping their mother make more parasols! An evening walk in the kadai veethi around the Raja Ganapathy temple in the heart of the city was vastly entertaining!

Charming Ganapathys
Charming Ganapathys
Pretty pink Pillayaiyar
Pretty Pink Pillaiyar
Vinayaka chathurthi (2)
Ganeshas ready for the celebrations
vinayaka chathurthy
Sugarcane, coconuts, Mango leaves , bananas, and flowers for tomorrow’s puja
Vinayakar statues on a balcony
Vinayakar statues on a balcony
Pillaiyar- big and small
Pillaiyar- Big and small

PANDAMANGALAM-In The Footsteps Of The Pandavas

PRASANNA VENKATARAMANA SWAMI TEMPLE, PANDAMANGALAM

The Tamil month of Purataasi is devoted to the worship of Lord Vishnu. Saturdays in this month are days of fasting and worship. The Tamil word for Saturdays is Sani-Kizhamai, and the third Saturday in Purataasi is believed to be the holiest. Visits to Perumal ( Vishnu) temples are important and a part of the worship in this sacred month.

Tucked away in a lovely Tamil-nadu village,surrounded by sugarcane fields,a canal flowing on one side is a beautiful temple to Lord Vishnu.The picturesque village is Pandamangalam in Namakkal district of Tamil-nadu and the Vishnu temple is the Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Temple.

PANDAMANGALAM

As the name suggests,the village  dates back to the Mahabaratha period in history. The Shiva, Vishnu and Mariamman temples are all situated close together. On the day of my visit, a few days after Vinayaka Chaturthi, The Vinayakar in Pandamangalam was getting ready to be taken for immersion in a water body. A few pics.of Ganesha outside the temple.

Pandamangalam 1
Vinayaka Chathurthi in Pandamangalam
Pandamangalam 2
Ganesha getting ready

It is believed that during the Vanavaasam (years in exile) of the Pandavas ,they came to Pandamangalam. They built an Ashram and lived here for some time.

Prasanna Venkataramana Swami appeared to them, and the Pandavas worshipped the Lord and received His blessings. He is the Lord we see today. The village was named after the Pandavas,and Pandavar mangalam became Pandamangalam with the passage of time. During their stay in Pandamangalam they were saved from an evil spirit,  Vedalam,  by Lord Krishna whose temple is near the Varaha Theertham.

Aview from the entrance.Pandamangalam
A view from the entrance.Pandamangalam

Hundreds of years later it was part of the Pandya Kingdom and was known as Pandiyamangalam. The Pandya Queen suffered from a skin disease. The King and Queen prayed to Prasanna Venkataramana Swami. Again the Lord appeared to them and cured the Queen of her ailment.

The third instance when the Lord was Pratyaksham (appeared before the people) happened in a more recent time-frame, when this region was under the  rule of the Kings of Mysore. Once the Raja of Mysore suffered from an incurable stomach-ache. He was advised to come to Pandamangalam and pray to Venkataramana Swami who cured people of all illness. The Raja worshipped God as instructed by the priests and took the prasad of holy tulsi (holy basil) leaves as medicine. He was completely cured of his stomach pain. Returning to Mysore, he told the queen of the miraculous cure. Both the Raja and the Queen came to Pandamangalam and renovated the temple.

So we find that the temple has been extended from the main shrine or garpa griham of the Mahabaratha period to the other shrines and inner and outer corridors built by the Pandya Kings and later by the Raja of  Mysore. Of course the Bhoo Varahar temple and the Varaha theertham are even older.

RAJA VAIKAAL

For hundreds of years, the region around Pandamangalam has been famous for betel-leaf cultivation. Even today, the betel-leaves (vetrilai) grown in Pandamangalam and surrounding areas are among the best. To this day, it is the busy hub of a thriving trade in green betel leaves which are plucked from the vines, packed in layers in dried banana leaves and sent to markets all over Tamil-nadu. In fact, it is one of the first scenes that greet your eyes on the way to the temple.

Once there was a severe draught and the betel vines dried up. The Raja of Mysore had a canal dug that brought water from the lake at Jeddarpalayam, 10kms from here, and irrigated hundreds of acres of land. It is called Raja Vaaikal after the Raja of Mysore. It brings water to the fields throughout the year. For ten days in February – March the water flow is blocked for maintenance of the canal. There is a bridge across the canal that leads to the temple.

Raja Vaaikal Pandamangalam.
Raja Vaaikal Pandamangalam.

Raja Vaikaal Pandamangalam

Pandamangalam 7
The bridge across the canal

The Temple

The temple is built in such a way that Prasanna Venkataramana Swami is clearly visible from the entrance. We have to climb down some steps to enter the temple.

The first worship is to Kshetra Balagar who is the Kaaval Deivam or guardian deity of the Gopura Vaasal (entrance through the Gopuram or temple tower). Behind this is the Dwajastambam or flag post (Kodi Maram in Tamil) and the Bali peetam.

In the inner corridor, the sannadhi( shrine)  of Prasanna Venkataramana Swami occupies centre stage.

Prasanna Venkataramana Swamy-Pandamangalam
Prasanna Venkataramana Swamy-Pandamangalam

The Battar (Priest) tells us about the temple and the Lord.

  • This temple is a Varaha Kshetram.
  • It is a Prarthana Sthalam. Prarthana means prayer. This is a temple where the Lord answers our prayers without fail. The prayers may be for getting a job, cure for illness or any other reasonable prayer. The Lord grants them all.
  • There is no mangalasaasanam for this temple.
  • Usually the idols of Venkataramana Swami in temples are quite big(Aajaanubaagu) but in this temple, He is in Kuzhandai Roopam,(meaning -like a small child) and hence very adorable, making us want to visit Him again and yet again just to gaze on the beauty of the small Perumal with Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.

Back again in the inner corridor,there are sannidhis to Dhanvantri, Chakarathalwar, Thayar, Andal and Lakshmi Hayagreevar. The name of Thayar is Alarmel Mangai Thayar .There are idols of Narasimhar, Venugopalan with SathyaBama and Rukmini and Lakshmi Narasimhar.The sheer beauty of the idols steals your heart.Another surprise is the Navagraha shrine in this Vishnu temple.

Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam
Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam

Venugopalaswamy-Pandamangalam.1

The paadam of Perumal
The paadam of Perumal

Dhanvantri and Hayagreeva are recent installations of a couple of hundred years. All the rest date back to an ancient time.

Alwargal Pandamangalam

Temple Corridor Pandamangalam

VARAHA THEERTHAM

Varaha theertham 1
Varaha theertham

The priest very kindly sent a local devotee to show us the Varaha Theertham. The outer corridor leads to an ancient door set in the temple wall (mathil). Through this door and the Varaha Theetham lies just beyond.  The Theertham is a sight to behold!Small elephant sculptures grace the steps of this ancient temple pond.

Here is the  small temple to Bhoo Varaha Swami which is older even than the Venkataramana Swami sannadhi. There is another shrine to Sri Krishna.

Bhu Varahar temple
Bhu Varahar temple
Bhoo Varaha Swami,Pandamangalam
Bhoo Varaha Swami, Pandamangalam
Sri Krishna
Sri Krishna

Varaha theertham at duskThe temple is under the Tamilnadu Government. It is beautifully maintained by a trust comprising of local people.

Temple cars Pandamangalam

Additional Facts

Three kaala pujas are performed everyday.

In this temple the Brahmotsavam starts on the day of Thai Aswathy nakshatra in honour of the Raja whose birth star was Thai Aswathy.

WHERE IT IS LOCATED

Pandamangalam  temple is  29 Kms. from Namakkal via NH 7

Distance from Salem is 84 Kms.

Distance from Karur is 27 Kms. via NH 7

Timings:

7.00a.m.to 12.00 p.m.

5.00 p.m to 8.00 p.m.

Address:

Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Tirukoil,

Pandamangalam, P.Velur, Namakkal District, Tamil-nadu,South India