Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari



From Nagercoil we boarded train and reached Tirunelveli at 9 A.M. We just took a set of clothes with us and kept the luggage in the cloak room and left by bus for Alwar Tirunagari. As it was festive season, there were plenty of buses plying towards Thiruchendur . It may be mentioned that all the buses bound to Thiruchendur goes via Azhwar Thirunagari. “Vaikasi Visagam” is the most auspicious day to both Saivaites and Srivaishnavites On this day the greatest of all Azhwars appeared on this earth. The buses were fully packed and it took 50 mintues for us to reach Thirunagari. We reached Thirunagari around 11 A.M. This otherwise calm village was overcrowded with devotees on this day. Almost all the chathirams, Ramanujar koodams and houses were fully packed with devotees who had come to witness the nava garuda sevai. Mohan mama’s house was packed with close relatives and the Elders shared a good hospitality. We kept our small luggage and left immediately as we were advised by the residents to go and wait near the entrance of the temple.

There is a big mandapam in front of the temple known as ‘PANDAL MANDAPAM” which was built by Sri Pandala Ramaswamy Nayaakar who was a great devotee and well known for initiating this nava garuda Sevai utsavam in the year 1807. Hence, the mandapam is named after him as Pandal Mandapam. There were many shops on either sides of the mandapam. A huge mela (exhibition) was going on and the entire village was in a festive mood. We were fortunate to have Nammazhwar’s darsanam in the urtharadi madam. Azhwar during his entire life time never left the place and hence that practice is followed even today. Hence all the Perumals of the Nava Tirupatis come to Thirunagari to give darshinam to their most beloved devotee.
Thirumanjanam ( ABHISHEKAM ) for Azhwar started amongst recitation of vedic hymns like Taitriya Upanishad and Pancha sooktham . We cherished the sevai and it is still fresh in our minds..We were alerted by the bhagavathas that the Nava Tirupathigal Perumal have already started from their Thirukolams and after crossing the beautiful Tambaraparani River are arriving at Pandal Mandapam.We rejoiced to see Perumals coming from different directions with a troup of Nadaswaram goshti and the recitation of Divya prabhandam pasurams by Elders. Perumal started arriving to Pandal
Mandapam. Each Perumal arrived in a well decorated palanquin with full honours. Here
Azhwar receives the Perumal and does Pradakshinam to Perumal thrice. Azhwar is then blessed with satari, peedambaram and prasadam which were offered to the Perumal. After this, managala aarthi was given to Perumal and Azhwar and Perumal enters the main temple. This procedure was followed for all the Perumals. This function takes place for about 2 to 3 hours.

All the Perumals assemble is a big hall/ mandapam inside the temple. This mandapam was exclusively built for this purpose. Preparations like decorating Garuda vaahanam for the evening function was going on..The bhagavathas of all the surrounding Villages contribute their might in making the function grand.We could see the Archakas kith and kin joyfully devoted in the alankaram of the palaquin and the Garuda vahanam.The devotees are very cooperative . They share a wonderful hospitality enquiring about the details of stay, food etc. Most of the Thirumalagais are eager to serve the devotees with Prasadam.

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

Around 5 P.M., Thirumanjanam would start for all the Perumals. Hence, we relaxed for some time near the Mandapam listening to the devotees experiences. There were several groups well assembled in respective vans etc .The group Elder was addressing the crowd on Topics of Alwar Vaibhavams. We could see around 5 groups doing this kainkaryam and each one was unique. We were immersed in the spiritual rain. At 5 P.M., we gathered in the mandapam. Meantime, we saw some vaadiyars carrying silver kudams filled with water. We were told by the local residents that they bring water for Thirumanjanam from Tambarabarani river . The theertham for Neeratam was brought with full honours (an umbrella, music etc)Every Divya desam Perumal have their temple staff continuously attending to the function requirements. It is interesting to note that Thirumanjanam for all the Perumals are performed at the same time. Separate vaadhiyars for each Perumal from the temple carry out the honours . While Thirumanjanam was being performed for all the Perumals inside the mandapam, Azhwar’s Thirumanjanam was also performed . It was a grand sight and it was only due to our poorva janma sukrutam and our elders’ blessings, we could have Thirumanjana sevai of so many Perumals at a time. It takes about 2 to 3 hours for the alankaranam to get completed. Around 8 P.M., the garuda sevai starts. In the Nava Garuda Sevai, 9 Perumals are seated on Garuda vaahanam. Azhwar is seated on a Hamsa vaahanam and his dearest devotee, Madurakavi Azhwar is seated on Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair)

Azhwar waits just outside the Maha dwaaram of the temple. The temple doors are closed and Alwar along with his favourite devotee Madurakavi Alwar wait for the Garudaseva Utsavam to happen.The Mahadwaram doors are opened amidst the music of Nadaswarams and Azhwar is the first to have darsanam of Perumal. Perumal is given Mangala karpoora aarthi and managalasaasanam done to the particular Perumal by the Azhwar . The recitation of the Mangalaasanams of Elders drives one to spiritual escastsy. Arayar Sevai is performed. For this bhattars come all the way from SriRangam. The sevai is a ttreat to watch. One has to closely watch Alwars Thirumukam when the Mahadwaram doors are opened. The joy in Alwars thirumukam makes one think he is a part of the Thirukurugoor.

The order in which the Perumals appear in Garuda vaahanam along with the paasuram number sung by Azhwar is given below:

1) 1) Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor 3106,3116
2) Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal of Srivaikuntam 3571,3575
3) Sri Vijayasanar Perumal of Natham (varagunamangai) 3571
4) Sri Kaichinavendan of Thirupulingudi 3473,3568-78
5) Sri Mayakoothan of Perungulam(Thiuukulandhai) 3561
6) Sri Devapiran of Irattai Tirupati }
7) Sri Aravinda Lochanan of Irattai Tirupati } 3271-3281
8) Sri Bhoomipalar of Then Thirupperai 3359-3369
9) Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur along with Madurakavi Azhwar 3293-3303,3473

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

After this, neivedyam is offered to Perumal, Azhwar and Madurakavi Azhwar and Perumal leaves the place . All the Perumals assemble at East Mada street and from here all the nava tirupathi Perumal are taken in procession in the 4 mada streets of Thirunagari with the Nadaswaram troups for each perumal , Veda goshti etc. The village residents burst crackers and lit the roads with dazzling light. We could see the local residents receiving Perumal by sweeping the roads and decorating the roads with kollams etc.The zeal in their offering fruits and karpooram at the time of Perumal’s oorvalam is a treat to watch. Almost the entire village are well versed with the Order of Perumals arrival. This procedure of waiting near the entrance, showing karpoora aarthi and rendering mangalasaasanam on that particular Perumal is followed for all the 9 Perumals. The excitement of the local residents when they see their Perumal cannot be expressed in words. The whole atmosphere was charged with devotional fervour and we were lucky to capture few photos. By the time the ninth Perumal Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur leaves the place, Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor who left first comes back to the temple. After all the nine Perumals assemble, Azhwar pays his respects to all the Perumals and all the Perumals get inside the mandapam. Madurakavi Azhwar who has organized this function, pays his respects to Nammazwar and Nammazwar is pleased with his devotee. The function gets over around 4 A.M. the next day.One cannot imagine how the time passed so quickly

Next day morning, all the Perumals leave to their respective places and Nammazwar sees them
off . The village atmosphere was very calm and serene. It was very easy for my wife to calm down my kids who were very tired.

By 5.30 AM we got up and quickly left to Tamparaparani river to have a holy dip which was 1 km away. The banks of the river was crowded with the piligrims and Adiyen could see that the
surroundings fully packed with SriVaishnavaites. The scenic beauty was simply marvellous. We
had a wonderful time near the river and my kids were overjoyed to look at the innocent village
belles grazing cows and buffaloes. We left to Temple around 6.30 AM We could notice Nammazwar ‘s hamsa vaahanam was placed in such a manner that he could see Perumal till he leaves the street. We had darshan of all the Perumals in the Mandapam and the send off procession was about to start with the blowing of trumpets etc.The Perumals leave the Mandapam around 7.00 –7.30 AM . Only after the sight of Perumal completely disappears, Nammazhwar is taken inside. Alwars tirumukam has a sad look with the departure of the perumals to their respective divyadesams. We sincerely prayed Alwar for gracing us in attending this wonderful Garudasevai. Hail Tirukurugoor I silently walk behind Alwars Palaquin asking for forgiveness and his grace in attending many more Satsangs. Now, I wish to make an attempt in comparing Nava Garuda Sevai held at Alwar Tirunagari (Pandya Naadu) with Eleven Garuda Sevai held at Thirunangoor (Chola Nadu) every year.

Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari

Place Alwar Tirunagari near Tirunelveli Thirunangoor near Sirkazhi Month 5th day preceding Vaigasi Visagam Next day after Thai Amavasai Duration One day 2 days-Thai Amavasai when Azhwar goes to each divya desam and next day when all the Perumals assemble Venue Adinathar Kovil at Thirukurugoor Thirumani mada kovil at Thirunangoor Perumals From 9 Divya desams From 11 Divya desams
Hosted by Nammazhwar In Hanmsavahanam Thirumangai Azhwar also in Hamsa Vahanam 1st sevai held in 3 centuries old 2 centuries old Supervised by Madurakavai Azhwar in Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair) Manavala Maamunigal in Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair) Neeratam for God Simultaneously for all Perumals In Ekaantham


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