Prostrating at the lotus feet of Lord Srinivasa , Adiyen wishes to briefly describe MANJAL NEERATAM AND ELEVEN GARUDA SEVAS HELD AT THIRUNANGOOR EVERY YEAR ON THAI AMAVASAI AND PRADHAMAI DAY respectively. May the Supreme Lord bestow me the knowledge to describe about the Garuda Seva. Adiyen seeks the blessings of all the Alwars and Acharyas and all SriVaishnavas. Adiyen sincerely admits that he is incompetent to describe about Perumal and Alwar’s vaibhavam and sincerely requests the bhagavathas to correct the shortcomings .
ONLY DUE TO THE GRACE OF THIRUMANGAI AZHWAR, IN THIS TRIP, WE COULD HAVE DARSHAN OF SRI PARTHASARATHY PERUMAL ON RATHA SAPTHAMI and MANJAL NEERATAM ON AND GARUDA SEVAI
Having planned to visit other divya desams like Thiruaadanoor, Thirupullamboothamgudi, Thiurkandiyur, Kapisthalam, Thanjhai Maamani kovil, Mandangudi, Nathan kovil, Oppiliappan kovil, Thirunaagai, Thirukannapuram, Thirukannangudi, Thiruvelliangudi, Therezundur etc. and then go to Thirunangoor.
Having reached Chennai we went to Thiruvallikkeni Parthasarathy Perumal temple. It was Ratha Sapthami. The festival, which is celebrated in grand way at TIRUMALA.Here one can have darshan of Lord in all the vahanas in one day on Ratha Sapthami. It’s a festival not to be missed. It is auspicious to have a Samudra snanam as per Elders. Due to lack of time, we could not have samudrasnanam. Had darsanam of utsavar near the entrance itself. We immediately went to Singa Perumal kovil via Guindy and Tambaram to take our Acharya Sri Sri Mudaliaandan Swamy’s blessings. As Acharya was not there, we offered fruits etc with Swamy’s shishyas at ashram. we boarded Rameswaram Express to Kumbakonam
Reached Kumbakonam at 4.30 A.M. , after refreshing ourselves left at 7 A.M. Hired an auto to cover temples around Kumbakonam. Went to Thiruvelliankudi. The temple was closed. Left the temple at 10.30 A..M. and via Swami Malai went to Thiruaadanoor .Reached Thiruaadanoor at 11.55 A.M. In this temple one can have darshanam of THIRUMANGAI ALWAR with a sword inside the temple itself which is very rare. We were fortunate to perform Archana (it was the grace of the Alwar that the chance to perform Archanai to his holy feet was possible.) Further we went to Thirumandangudi, the birthplace of Thondaradipodi Azhwar, at 12.20. The sannadhi was already closed. WE were told that all utsavams are performed for Azhwar only. While doing pradakshinam, we came across a vigraham of the Azhwar. From there, we went to Kapisthalam, the place where Gajendran was given moksham. The story of Gajendran, the elephant is well known and does not need any repitition. We were told that utsavam for Perumal is done for one day on Vaikasi Visagam day. On Aadi Pournami, Gajendra moksham is enacted. We were told that every year they bring an elephant from Swami Malai and a crocodile out of wood is made for the moksham ceremony. Perumal goes to the banks of Kaveri on Garuda vaahanam and Gajendra moksham is recapitulated. Periazhwar’s pasuram starting with “PADAGAMUDALA VAAIPATTU, THOTTA MANIYOTTUM ETC, KOOTRAMKARA … FROM NAANMUGAN THIRUVANDHADHI ETC.” are recited. At the entrance to the temple on the gopuram, we can see Gajendra moksham beautifully carved . The pushkarini is full of lotus flowers
Resumed journey at 3.45 P.M. and reached Thirukandiyur at 4 P.M. Waited for the archakar to arrive till 4.50 P.M. Even at the ripe age of 80 above, the archakar came to temple and performed archanai to Perumal. Hope we also have the same type of attachment to Perumal like the archakar. The moolavar here is known as HARASAAPA VIMOCHANA PERUMAL . Had darshan of all azhwars outside the garbagriham. We were told that utsavam will be performed for 15 days during Panguni and ends on Panguni Uthiram star. Left at 5.10 P.M. to Thanjhai Maamani Kovil.
THANJAHI MAA MANI KOVIL: This is a cluster of 3 temples. As Perumal had to take 3 forms to kill the asura, Perumal is seen in 3 forms in 3 temples. It takes hardly 3 minutes to go to one temple from another. In all the three temples, no thirumanjaname is performed for Moolavar. Only on Aadi Ekadasi, Thaila Kaapu is done for the Perumals.
First, we went to Mani Kundra Perumal kovil., We were informed that Garuda Seva is done on Panguni Uthiram day and during Thai and Aadi Fridays, oonjal sevas is performed. Left the temple at 5.35 P.M. and went to Thanjahi Maa Mani Kovil (5 minutes walk)
In Thanjhai Maa mani kovil, the moolavar is known as Neelamega Perumal . We were told that Garuda Sevai is held on Vaikasi Visagam. Perumal gives darsanam along with Andal and Desikar’s utsavam is performed for 10 days endingon Puratasi Sravanam. On Thai and Aadi Fridays, oonjal sevai is performed.
From there we went to Thanjai Yali kovil. Moolavar’s Thirunaamam is Veera Narasimhar. 2 utsava murthis known as Narayanan and Narasimhar. Perumal’s star is Chithirai Swathi. On Aadi Pooram, Andal’s utsavam is performed, Only in this temple, Pagal pathu and Raa pathu utsavams are conducted.
From Thanjai maa mani kovil, went directly to Oppiliyappan kovil . had darsanam of Perumal after neivedyam at 8 P.M. Stood in front of Perumal for more than 10 minutes. Bought Tulais, salt and pepper and cassettes. Reached room at 8.40 P.M.
The next day we checked out at 5.15 A.M from station and boarded bus to Nagapatinam which is 50 kms away from Kumbakonam via Tiruvarur at 6.15 A.M. Reached Nagapatinam at 8 A.M.
THIRUNAAGAI (NAGAPATINAM) –Dhruva Kshetram. Had darsanam of Soundariyaraja Perumal to our heart’s content. Perumal ‘s thiruvuruvam is still fresh in our minds. We were told that 2 utsavams are performed –one in the month of Chithirai and one in the month of Panguni (Ratham on Panguni Uthiram –10 days utsavam). In the months of Aani and Aadi, utsavams for Soundaryavalli Thayar and Andal are performed respectively.
Later we went to Thirunaagai (Nagapatinam) to have darshan of Soundaryaraja Perumal who blessed young Dhruva. This kshetram itself is known as DHRUVA KSHETRAM. When we were enquiring the bhattar about the route to Thirunangoor, some Srivaishnavites who had come to the temple volunteered to take us along with them in their van as there was place for 2 persons to sit. Perumal once again came to our rescue by sending these Sri Vaishnavites. Thanking Perumal for the timely help, we accompanied them and the rest of our journey was very comfortable which could not be described in words. I take this opportunity to thank the devotees for the help they had extended to us.On the way to Thirunangoor, we visited Sikkal at 9.30 A.M. Thirukannangudi (10 A.M.), Thirukannamangai, Theruezundur,Oppiliappan Temple, Thirunaraiyur, Thirucherai, Thirukudandhai and other temples around Kumbakonam. It was midnight when we reached Thirunangoor. The sleepy village of Thirunangoor with no amenties was overcrowded with bhagavathas. We all relaxed in front of a house near Thiruvaali-Thirunagari temple.
Suddenly around 1.30 A.M. in the morning, we were awakened by sounds of drums. On enquiry, we were told that Azhwar’s purapaadu was about to start. When questioned, we were told that as Kaliyan was a dacoit before becoming Azhwar, the system of going out in the midnight is followed even today. I was told by the bhagavathas whom we accompanied that they would be joining the procession. As I wanted to join the procession, Adiyen left my wife and children in the safe custody of the other bhagavathas in the bus itself, had a wash in a nearby bore well and joined the procession. It was totally dark with no street lights and there were no proper roads. Unmindful of the thorns and stones, all the bhagavathas were running behind the Azhwar. I just recollected Raman mama’s words that it is difficult to carry children in the crowd and thanked Sri Parthasarathy Perumal for arranging van for my family.
The intention of the purapaadu is Azhwar personally goes to each temple, glorifies the respective Perumals while going for Manjal Neeratam and personally invites them to come to Thirumanimaada kovil for the Garuda utsavam which will be held the next day. Thirumangai Azhwar was seated in a well-decorated palanquin and the purapaadu started. First, Azhwar went to Thirukuraiyalur, his birth place.It was 2.30 AM We could see thousands of devotees following the Azhwar. The Azhwar literally runs and the bhagavathas also run behind the azhwar. It may be mentioned that there are no proper roads and how the bhagavathas run on thorns and stones is a sight which is not to be missed. Leaving my children and wife in the safe custody of the bhagavathas, Adiyen participated in the purappadu and ran behind the Azhwar. The zeal cannot be explained.
First, we reached THIRUKURAIYALUR, the birth place of Thirumangai Alwar. Alwar was received with due temple honours and mangalasaasanam starting with “VAADINEN VAADI” was done. We happened to meet Azhwar’s descendants. WE were told by the couple themselves that they are the direct descendants of the Azhwar and they do the “PUSHPA KAINKARYAM FOR THE AZHWAR ON THESE TWO DAYS”. (We were excited to meet them at Alwar Tirunagari during Nava Garuda Seva after two years ) After this , “Kesari” was distributed as prasaadam to all the devotees.
Without any discretion, all the residents of all the 11 villages participate in this function and the hospitality which is extended by the local residents cannot be described in words. All the bhagavathas who attend this function are sumptuously fed . We can see the residents voluntarily offering us buttermilk, food etc. They all consider it as their own family function. From there, Azhwar was taken to Thirumangaimaadam, the birth place of Kumudavalli Thayar., who was solely responsible for transforming a dacoit into a Srivaishnavite. It’s a old temple and one has to see the Alwars vigraham which shares the feelings with the crowd. Tears roll when the incidents are revealed by the bhagavathars. Chakrapongal prasadam was served .It was 3.30 AM .I think we must have easily walked 4 Kms . From there, Azhwar was taken in a procession to Thirukavalampadi, Thirumanikoodam and Thiru Paarthanpalli. All these temples are scattered in a radius of 10 to 12 kms and the Azhwar literally runs to cover all these temples. The devotees throng behind the Azhwar and the way the devotees run behind the Azhwar has to be seen to be believed. The whole place was charged with religious fervour and was eye- captivating. One must not miss to see bhagavatha’s bhakti for the Azhwar. Due to Azhwar’s sheer grace, I was able to participate in the procession. The procession was more or less like a running race. It shows the Azhwar’s anxiety to have darshan of Perumal. In each of the temples, the utsavar was very anxious to receive the Azhwar and was waiting outside the garbagriham to welcome the Azhwar. I was overwhelmed with joy and at the same time I was stunned to see an ocean of Srivaishnavas running behind the Azhwar. All through the way, Perumal’s naamasmaranam was done and Azhwar’s vaibhavam was recapitulated. Even the thorns and stones on the road do not cause any injury to the bhaktas.
Suddenly, they took a turn and went across fields and canals. For a moment, I didn’t know what was happening. I was told that it was Azhwar’s practice to go across fields, muddy lands and canals and that practice is followed even today. It was a very thrilling experience. Around 8-10 persons were shouldering the palanquin and by seeing the speed in which the procession was taken, I thought they would drop the palanquin. But I was corrected about my misconception by other bhagavathas that such incidents do not happen and Azhwar enjoys the procession to be taken in this way. We could see the smile on Azhwar’s Thirumugam. The Azhwar crosses agricultural fields, (keni kattu), canals etc. The local people request the procession to be taken across their fields because they strongly believe that they will have a good yield if the procession goes from their fields. WE were told that a local resident objected to this procession to be taken across his fields and as a result of which , there was no yield that year. The repentant person approached the Alwar for forgiveness and prayed to Azhwar for the procession to be taken across his fields. Took many photographs. I regretted for wasting my past years in not attending this festival. It takes about half a day for the Azhwar to cover these 5 temples. After visiting these 5 temples, Azhwar is taken to the banks of Manikarnikarai. On the banks of the canal, Azhwar do mangalasaasanam to his guru, Sri Naraiyur Nambi Perumal (Naachiyar kovil, Kumbakonam) who initiated him into Vaishnavism and mangalasaasanam to his favourite Perumal, Sri Ranganathar are recited. The devotees stood in knee deep water and were reciting some pasurams. I was told that these pasurams were sung in praise of Thirunaraiyur Nambi and Sri Ranganathar. The Azhwar took a quick dip in the water. Along with the Azhwar, the devotees also had a holy dip. We were told that the Azhwar, when he was a dacoit, used to have bath in these waters for refreshing himself after he returned from his looting expedition. Hence, the system of having holy dip in the Manikarnikai waters is still followed even today. After this, Azhwar was honoured with garlands and peethambarams which were adorned by the two Perumals of the divya desams previously. These gifts were specially brought from Kumakonam and Srirangam with due temple honours. After this,Azhwar was taken to a nearby old mandapam for Manjal Neeratam. The reason for Manjal Kuliyal has already been described. Though I had read some books regarding this, I felt that only due to the blessings of Acharyar alone, I could see this event which is the most memorable event.
Thirumanjanam was performed for SINDANAIKU INIYAN ( idol worshipped by Thirumangai Azhwar himself), Thirumangai Azhwar and Kumudavalli Thayar. It is very interesting to note that Azwar is never separated from Thayar except on one occasion i.e. during THIRUVEDUPURI UTSAVAM celebrated on Panguni Uthiram day every year.
Only during this occasion, Azhwar leaves Kumudavalli Thayar alone for a span of 3-4 hours as he goes to plunder Perumal’s properties. We were told that every year 5 days before Panguni Uthiram, Kalyana Ranganathar goes for seeing the bride and their marriage takes place on Panguni Uthiram day Thirumangai manans four friends as described earlier go to see Perumal and Thayar adorned with most precious jewels and they go and inform Alwar of the bouty.They decide to loot so that they need not work for a life time.Alwar immediately rushes at Perumal riding a Horse and stops Perumal by showing his sword.He gooes around Perumal 3 times and loots all the jewellery. We were told that Perumal protects Thayar by covering her with his upper cloth.Alwar tries to remove Thayars metti and he is enlightened..This episode is recaptivated by the Vaadiyar who removes the metti and hides it. Immediately Alwar bursts into the beauty …VAADINEN VAADI … At that time Perumal and Thayar appear in Garudavahanam and give darshan to Alwar. After this incident both Perumal and Alwar return to the temple. Next day RATHOTHSAVAM is celebrated. The place is in a thick forest. The mandapam is Oh lord When will You grace me to see this festival I look out ..We were shown the old mandapam where this festival is celebrated.
Azhwar and Kumudavalli Thayar are placed on a big table and on top of them, a Sahasra dhaara plate is placed and on it the idol worshipped by Azhwar whom he lovingly called SINDANAIKU INIYAN is placed. Then Thiurmanjanam is performed to Lord Sindanaiku Iniyan and the same water flows through the Sahasradhaaram on Thirumangai Azhwar and Kumudavalli’s head. After this , panchaamrutham, chakarai pongal etc were distributed. The Manjal Neeratam is still fresh in our minds. May Azhwar bless us by giving us another chance to visit the function.
After this, we all had sumptuous lunch. Around 3 P.M., the procession started.In the evening,en route to Thirumanimadakovil,Thirunagari, Azhwar visits Thiruvanpurushotham, Thiru vaikunta vinnagaram, Thiru Sem pon sei kovil, Thiru Thetri ambalam, Thiru Arimeya vinnagaram and stays at Thirumanimada kovil for the night. Adiyen participated in the evening procession meantime in the afternoon I and other bhagavathas went to Thalaichankaadu and other divya desams..This is the only Divya desams one can find in a paddy field. The Vaadiyar is 95 yrs old man who has sons in one of the best positions but decided to stay alone in the temple at his holy feet .I was really surprised with the spirits he was performing Archannai. In the night, all of us halted at Sinivasa Perumal kovil more popularly known as “Annan Kovil “.
Next day morning, all of us assembled at Thirumanimada kovil for participating in 11 GARUDA SEVA. On the way , we visited Anann kovil,, Thirupaarthnpalli, Thiruvaali-Thirunagari. There is a separate shrine forThirumangai Azhwar in Thirunagari temple. The temple itself is very big. The vigraham of Thirumangai Azhwar along with Kumudavalli Thayar is eye captivating. It makes one recollect Manavala mamuni’s thaniyan on the azhwar. Azhwar’s lips are slightly opened as if they are uttering THIRUMANTRAM. Azhwar’s vigraham may be around 3 feet. He is seen holding THIRUMADAL in one hand . There is also a spear with him. In one leg, Azhwar is seen wearing anklet. This anklet and Vel were given as gifts to the Azhwar when he won in a contest about Vaishnavism. We were told that utsava vigraham of the Azhwar is adorned with the anklet for the festival. From 10 A.M. onwards, divya desa Perumals from each temple started arriving. A big pandal was erected for the Perumals. The Perumals came in their respective palanquins. We reached Thirumanimadakovil at 14 hours. By that time, almost 7 Perumals had arrived . After all the Perumals assembled, at about 4 P.M., the alwar was brought out from Thirumanimada kovil for receiving the Perumals. The Alwar was waiting near the entrance of the temple. Manavala maamuni was standing opposite to the Alwar. , Manavalamaamuni was very fond of Thirumangai Azhwar and he , as a disciple supervises the Garuda Festival. The place was over crowded but fortunately we could have a clear view of the proceedings and were able to take out many snaps. To enable the crowd to know about the proceedings, a big board was hung depicting the particular Perumal’s Thirunaamam, and Divya desam.
Mangalasaasanam on the particular Perumal rendered by Thirumangai Alwar was recited and Azhwar does pradakshinam to Perumal. After that, Alwar is gifted with parivattam and garlands previously worn by the Perumal. Alwar is lowered a bit and the gifts are accepted by the Azhwar. Azhwar wears the garland given by Perumal and the parivattam is tied around Azhwar;s head. After this, fruits etc are offered as neivedyam ot Perumal and then to Azhwar and later to Manavala Mamuni. After this, karpoora aarthi is given. and the particular Perumal gets inside the Thirumani mada kovil. An interesting feature noted was there was a separate troop of musicians who played naadaswaram, mela and thalam for each Perumal. Finally aarthi with khumbham is given. The sequence in which the mangalasaasanam to the Perumal is done is as follows:
1) THIRUNARAYANA PERUMAL OF THIRU MANIMADA KOVIL- dressed in white
2) KUDAMAADU KOOTHAR PERUMAL OF THIRU ARIMEYA VINNAGARAM- blue dress
3) SRI LAKSHMI RANGANATHAR OF SEM PON SEI KOVIL
4) SRI SRINIVASA PERUMAL OF ANNAN KOVIL (palanquin covered with blue and meron velvette cloth)
5) SRI PURUSHOTHAMAN OF THIRUVANPURUSHOTHAM (dressed in white and grey)- palanquin covered with green cloth (Note: All the palanquins were covered with cloth with sankhu, chakram and Thiruman embedded on it)
6) SRI VARADARAJA PERUMAL OF THIRUMANIKOODAM (silver crown, holding mace, dressed in blue and red –palanquin covered with white cloth)
7) SRI VAIKUNTANATHAR OF THIRUVAIKUNTAM ( Adiseshan seen as umbrella for Perumal, blue and red colour cloth covered over the palanquin) (The alankaranam for all the Perumals especially, for Srinivasa Perumal, Vaikunta natha Perumal and Varadaraja Perumal was fantastic)
8) SRI MADHAVA PERUMAL OF THIRUDEVANARTHOGAI (meron colour kreetam-dressed in yellow and red )
9) SRI PARTHASARATHY PERUMAL OF THIRUPAARTHANPALLI (dressed in printed silk cloth-silver umbrella –Maragadham visible on Perumal’s Thirumaarbhu-red colour palanquin
10) SRI RAJAGOPALAN of THIRUKAVALAMPAADI (dressed in pink and blue coloured silk cloth-red coloured palanquin)
While doing pradakshinam to Sri Rajagopalan (Sl. No. 11), Azhwar goes round the Perumal is “AADU PAAMBU” style. After all the Perumals get inside, Manavala mamuni does pradakshinam to Azhwar in Aadu paambu style and the Alwar along with Manavala mamuni enter the temple. The function takes place for about 2 hours. Around 4.45 P.M., it was complete. Inside the temple, each Perumal is allotted a separate place and Thirumanjanam to all the Perumals and Azhwar is performed in Ekantam. Then, preparation for Garuda Seva starts. Arouund 10 P.M., amidst heavy crowd, leaving our children in the custody of Sri Govindarajan, myself and my wife went inside the temple, had darshan of all the Perumals and had theertha prasadam and thiruthula. Sarangapani kovil bhattar was also there. At 11 P.M. , the Garuda seva starts. First Manavala mamuni goes followed by Thirumangai Alwar and Kumudavalli Thayar seated on hamsa vahanam and All the divya desa Perumals follow them. The procession winds its way through the four mada streets of Thirumanikoodam. It takes about 3 hours for all the Perumals to complete the oorvalam. All the Perumals assemble in front of Thiurumanimaada kovil. Alwar thanks all the Perumals for having blessed all the sinners like us with their Divine Grace. Manavala mamuni’s saatrumarai takes place after this. After this, all the Perumals enter into the temple. Next day, all the Perumals leave to their respective places. On the way to Thirunagari, Alwar visits Annan Kovil, Madhava Perumal kovil (Thirudevanarthogai), Thiruvaali and Thirunagari divya desams . We were told that Narasimha swamy of Thirunagari temple eagerly waits near the entrance of Thirunagari temple to receive the Alwar who had gone out for a span of 3 days . Alwar’s mangalasaasanam on this Perumal is sung and both Perumal and Alwar enter into the temple.. This marks the end of the two-day grand festival.
As we had to reach Chennai the next morning, we all left Thirunangoor at 1 A.M. after thanking Alwar for blessing us to have a view of 11 GARUDA SEVA. It was a dream come true for us.
JAI SRIMAN NARAYANA
THIRUMANGAI ALWAR THIRUVADIGALEY SARANAM
MUDALIAANDAN SWAMY THIRUVADIGALEY SARANAM