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Pavitrotasavams at Tirumala

Pavitrotasavams at Tirumala

(References: Based on the text ‘pavitrOtsavAnukramaNika’ by Agnihotram Srinivasacharyulu, Marichi’s Vimanarchanakalpam, Bhrigu’s Vasadhikaram)

The annual Pavitrotsavams festival will be observed from July 14th to July 16th, 2016 at Tirumala Hill Shrine. This yearly ritual begins with Acharya Ritwikvaranam and Ankurarpana on July 13th. Kumbha Sthapana and Pavitra Pratishta on July 14th, PavitrArOpanam on July 15th and Purnahuthi on July 16th. Acharya Ritwikvaranam (Selection of officiating priests for the performance of Pavitrotsavams), Kankanadharanam (wrist band) to Utsava Muthi and priests. After taking the formal resolve (Sankalpam), these priest are given the ‘Deeksha Vastrams’ (or officiating dress, usually yellow dhothi in tirumala). These priest will perform ‘Panchagavya Prasanam’ (taking the holy items of Cow viz., milk, curd, ghee, dung, urine) and ‘Akalmasha Homam’ to get the ritualistic eligibility. The next ritual is ‘Pratisara bandhanam’. This is nothing but wearing ‘Raksha Bandhanam’ (wrist band) on the right hand of priests so that they will be eligible to perform rituals without any doshas (like Jatasoucha and Mritasoucha). On this day after all the daily rituals are conducted till Sathumorai, the Acharya Ritwikvaranam is conducted, in Sayana Mantapam infront of Mulavirat, which involves selection of officiating Priests (Ritwiks) who participate in the festival and allotting them the respective position in this ritual. There are totally 7 Homakundas are used for this ritual in the Yagasala.

Instead of using the regular Yagasala, which is located in the south side of Vimana Prakaram, Kalyanotsava Mantapam will be used for this ritual. The names of the Homakundas are gArhapatyam, AhavanIyam, anvAhAryam, Avasatyam, sabhyam which represent dhruva, kaUtuka, utsava, snapana and bali beras in their formless attribute. According to Vaikhanasa Bhagavachhastra, Lord Vishnu has to be worshiped with form and formless, (sakala and nishkala, amurti and samurti forms). And the other two homakundas are paUNDarIkam and aUpAsanAgni. Here the paUNDarIkam is used for performing Maha Santhi ritual in all Agamic procedures and it occupies a significant place in special rituals such as Pavitrotsavam, Maha Samprokshanams etc. So there will be totally around 9 ritwiks selected as officiating priests and they are allotted respective positions in the above homakundas. After the Acharya Ritwikgvaranam in the morning, Ankurarpana festival is conducted in the evening. Mritsangrahanam : (Collecting divine soil for use in Ankurarpanam and Yagasala Rituals), Visesha Puja (Goddess of Earth {bhudevi} is invoked in the soil and worshiped), Ankurarpanam (Sowing of seeds to signify fertility, prosperity and abundance) is performed along with a procession of Sri Vishvaksena (the leader of Narayana’s retinue who removes obstacles and protects worship).  ‘Mrit’ means soil and ‘Sangrahanam’ means collecting it. So, Mritsangrahanam means collecting soil where no one stepped on the soil. Usually the soil from Ant hill is taken for this rite. This is part of Ankurarpanam and is performed everytime there is Ankurarpanam. The Acharyas, Ritwiks, Paricharakas, Devotees, Yajamani will start from the temple for collecting the soil. The direction prescribed for collecting soil is either East or West or South-West corner of the temple. The chief of Vishnu’s retinue Sri Vishwaksena is also taken around in the procession. The Ant hill is dig and the soil is collected. In this soil, at the center, an image of Bhudevi (Goddess of Earth) is shaped. The image can be up to shoulder height or Chest height equal to Dhruva bera, facing towards North-East. Decorations like Saree and other usual things are adorned to this Bhudevi image, while reciting Bhu-Suktham. 11 Upacharams are given to this image. Chakra, Vishwaksena, Garuda, Sesha are worshiped. In a gold vessel, the soil is collected and then celestial farewell is given for Bhudevi. Then the procession will go to temple Yagasala and this soil is used to fill the ‘Palikas’ or Earthen Pots in the Ankurarpana mantapam. Ankurarpanam : It means ‘ Sowing a seed’. This is usually performed during the examination of suitable land for a temple, consecration, Utsavam, Snapanam. Also it is performed either 9, 7, 5, 3, 1 day before the start of the Utsavams. This is an important ritual in all Vaikhanasa mode of Utsavams. The texts indicate that any Utsavam that is performed without Ankurarpanam is of demonic in nature and hence, not desirable. Seeds like Saali, Vreehi, Yava, Mudga, Masha, Priyangu, Godhuma, Sarsha, Pachanaka, Tila, Tilva, Masoora are used for sowing. For instance, if the sprouts are black in color, they denote loss of wealth. Red color shows possibility of enmity with others, Sprouts growing down shows diseases and no sprouts indicate death. These results are to be predicted for the Country or Yajamani of the Utsavam. The governing power of sowing is Moon (or Soma). So it is usually performed in the evening moon. The Adidevathas are duly worshiped by reciting Vedic hymns and the seed are carefully looked after for these 9 days by offering daily worship to Soma. After the Ankurarpana festival, on day 1 of the Utsavams all vaidika homa activities are conducted in the Yagasala which involves Prarthana, Viswaksena Aradhana, Punyahavachanam, Raksha Bandhanam, Agni Pratishta, Aghara Homam, Kumbha Sthapana and homams connected there in, Pavitra Pratishta. On day 2, these Pavitram garlands are worshiped and adorned on all the deities in the temple. on day 3, Purnahuthi ritual is conducted at Yagasala, and Kumbham is taken in a procession to the sanctum where in the cosmic energy from Kumbham is transferred to Mulaberam. After this the Ritwiks and the local hereditary Priests are honored with Temple Honors, which concludes the festival. Everyday for three days, homams are conducted in the Yagasala, in the morning and evening, and procession in the evening for Lord Malayappa Swami around four mada streets with special adornments. Significance of Pavitrotsavams: Among the three categories of Utsavams performed to Lord Vishnu,  the Pavitrotsavams fall under kAlOtsava Category.

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The purpose of purification

The purpose of purification

(Article courtesy: Sri M. S. RAMESH)

Pavithrotsava, an important three-day festival at the Tirumala temple, begins on July 14, 2016.This is one of the important festivals at Tirumala with a hoary antiquity, agamic sanction, puranic reference and high religious significance. Basically during this utsava, the presiding deity and the other deities in the hilltown and in the temple itself are adorned with pavithras (sanctified garlands of thread). Homa is performed, vedic mantras are chanted, puranas are read. This utsava is penitential as well as propitiatory and its main objective is to get rid of the evil that might have been caused due to omissions and commissions in the performance of various rituals throughout the year. That is why this utsava is referred to severally as “Dosha Nivaarana,” “Sarva Yajna Phalapradha,” “Sarva Doshopasamana,” “Sarva Tushtikara,” “Sarvakaamapradha, “Sarvalokasantida.” Pavithrotsava,as the very word indicates is derived from the combination of two words “pavithra and utsava.” Pavithra is a means towards purification. That is why a darba grass worn in a loose knot round the finger usually heralds the performance of any religious rite. The Jayakhya Samhita explains that pavithra protects one from evil. The puranas also prescribe “Pavithra Aaropana,” i.e., adorning the deity with pavithra, as an integral part of the rituals during the worship of Lord Vishnu. For example, the agni purana specifies that the first day of a lunar fortnight either in the beginning of the month of Aashada or the end of the Krithika should be chosen for performing pavithrotsava for Lord Hari so as to earn riches! The Garuda Purana says that this rite should be done on the 12th day of the dark or bright fortnight. It is amazing to find the puranas even detailing the type of colour of the thread that should be used for preparing the pavithra.  This festival is celebrated for three days at Tirumala in the month of Aavani and is so planned as to conclude on Aavani Pournami day. The utsava is preceded by Ankurarpana the previous evening. The Ankurarpana and Mritsangrahana rituals are identical to those performed during Brahmotsava. Veda recitation is started after the Mritsangrahana ritual and this recitation of the Vedas concludes on the third day. Aavahana is done in the Pradana Kumbha for Lord Vishnu and His Consort. There will be 16 other Kumbhas surrounding this Pradana Kumbha. The various mantras which are recited are believed to infuse voice vibrations which have great religious and spiritual force. It is this Kumbha which is taken to the Moolasthana on the concluding day of the Pavitrotsava and from that Kumbha the augmented spiritual power is believed to be transmitted to the Moola Vigraha (Kumbha Aavaahanam). The sanctified pavithras are offered to the various deities on the morning of the second day of the utsava. T.K.T. Veeraraghavacharya, is his monumental book “History of Tirupati” has an interesting comment to make about this festival which is worth recalling here. He says the Pavithrotsava is a purificatory utsava and therefore is different from the samprokshana ceremony. Pavithrotsava which begins at Tirumala on July 28 ends on July31, 2012 Pavitrotsavam Ritual:  The main headlines in the Pavitrotsavams can be classified into 35 topics. They are     1  kAla niyamam – Deciding time  10  adhivAsam   19  kautuka bandhanam   28  kumbha AvAhanam     2  ankurArpaNam  11  AvAhanam – Invoking  20  mantra japam  29  varjya sUtra    3  pavitra dravyam – Articles used to make Pavitrams  12  snapanam – Celestial Bath  21  Sayanam  30  akruta prAyaschittam    4  nirmAna karma – Procedure of making the Pavitrams  13  hOmam – Fire Ritual  22  mahA SAnthi hOmam  31  varjya kAlA    5  lakshaNam – attire  14  sUktha paTana and abhimantraNa – Recital of Vedic hymns  23  pavitrArOpaNam  32  alankAram    6  pramANam – Standard  15  mUla mantra japam  24  dhAraNa kAla niyamam  33  bali nikshEpaNam     7  granthi – Knots  16  ritwik niyamam – Rules followed by Ritwiks during Pavitrotsavams  25  prAyaschittam  34  yAgaSAla    8  sUtra sanKhya  17  mErvAdi kalpanam  26  avarOpaNam  35   stOtram, kshamApaNam    9  manDala rachana  18  manDala vilEpanam  27  phalam       Let us briefly look at some important headlines in the Pavitrotsavams specified above. Deciding the correct time is important for this Utsavams. According to Marichi’s Vimanarchana Kalpam, in the months of AashADa, SrAvaNa, bhAdrapada, either in chAndra month or in soUrA month, is to be selected. And the day must be either Sukla DwAdasi or VishNu Panchaka days (Krishna Dwadasi, Sukla Dwadasi, Sravana Star, Pournima and Amavasya are called Vishnu Panchaka days in every month). According to Bhrigu’s Kriyadhikaram, on the day of Bhadrapada month, Sravana Star and Dwadasi Tithi or on the day of Dwadasi (Krishna and Sukla), Sravanam Star in the 6 months of Dakshinayanam during the Vishnu Panchaka days are ideal for performing the Pavitrotsavam Ritual. In Tirumala Hill shrine Pavitrotsavams are performed for 3 days, with Ankuraropanam on the previous day, during Sravana Sukla Ekadasi, Dwadasi and Trayodasi. Pavitrams are adorned on Dwadasi. Ankuraropanam Ritual must be performed 9,7,5,3 or 1 days before the day of Adorning the Pavitram garlands. Among the articles used to make these Pavitram garlands, the Superior one is either the thread gathered from the stem of Lotus Flower or a thread made in Gold, The thread made with Silver is middling merit and the inferior one is the thread made with Cotton or Pure Silk (It is common in all temples, including the Tirumala Hill Shrine, to use Pure silk for making Pavithram garlands). The Pavitram garlands must be made by either a brahmin woman or a girl, Married Women (2 to 4 members). Two Wooden sticks has to be installed at a distance and those who make Pavitrams must stand opposite each other equally on South and North sides, facing East, by reciting Gayatri Mantra. Now three rounds of thread is to be rotated around these two wooden sticks in the clockwise direction by reciting ‘tamEka nEmim’ mantra. Now this 3 layered thread is to be folded into three equal parts. There will be totally 9 thread layers and each layer is controlled by respective Adi Devathas. For the 1st layer Siva is the Adi Devatha. Similarly 2. Vishnu 3. Brahma 4. Soma 5. Vahni 6. Naga 7. Kumara Swamy 8. Surya 9. Vigneswara respectively. The length of the Pavitram garlands can be of 4 types. 108 layers of thread with length from neck to knee of the Lord’s idol is Superior one, 54 layers with length up to Thigh is Middling merit, 27 layers with length upto Stomach is inferior variety. 1008 layers of thread with length equal to the total height of the idol, called Vanamala, is very dearer to Lord Vishnu. According to Marichi, the distance between one knot to other knot in the pavitram garland must be an inch, which is of Superior variety. By reciting Vishnu Suktha, knots are made. For the Pavitram garland which is adorned like a ‘Upaveetha’ (the sacred thread), there must be 27 knots. For the garlands of yajamani, Acharya, Sishyas and Homakundas, 8 knots and 12 knots for Parivara Deities. 64 Knots is Uttama, 24 Knots is Madhyama and 12 Knots is Adhama category. Pavitrotsavams are usually celebrated for Three days with ‘Triyahnika Deeksha’. In Tirumala Hill Shrine, the Pavitram garlands are adorned on the second day(Dwadasi) and removed on the third day. On the previous day of adorning the Pavitram garlands, Vaasthu Homa and purification with Panchagavyam must be performed. Turmeric water is sprinkled on Pavitrams by reciting appropriate Vedic hymns. In the night Sayanadhivasam Ritual is performed to Pavitrams as prescribed in Pratishta procedure of Vaikhanasa Bhagavachhastram. On the Sayya Vedika (Bed), for the Pavitram garlands along with Utsava or Snapana Berams, Adhivasam Ritual is performed. Before putting the Pavitrams on the bed, it must be placed on a heap of paddy and ‘Avahanam’ is performed (invoking  Cosmic energy). ‘Vishnu, Purusha, Satya, Achyutha and Aniruddha, Sree, Bhu are invoked in the Pavitrams. Snapanam (Sacred Bath) is performed to the Utsava deities after Homam. In the Homam Ritual, for the purification of Pavitram garlands and Yagasala, Vaasthu Homa is performed. And on the day of ‘Adhivasa’, in the Sabhyagni or Nityagni Homa Kunda, Homa is performed by reciting Vaishnava  mantra. After Sayanadhivasam, in the night, Houtra Prasamsanam ritual is performed by inviting the respective devathas, and the homa is performed by Appam, Ghee, Laaja by reciting Sukthas. And in the Poundarikagni, Maha Santhi Homa is performed. Maha Santhi Homam is performed in all Utsavas, to rectify from all types of errors (Errors in the recital of hymns, Procedure, procuring necessary articles) committed, knowingly or unknowingly in the current Utsava. By performing this, all the mistakes are rectified and complete result is achieved along with Peace and Health. This homa is performed with soft articles like Ghee, Ksheerannam (Rice boiled in Milk and Sugar), Appam (Rice Flour and Jaggery Paste fried in Ghee), Fried Paddy, and Saktu ( Mixture of Rice Flour, Sesame seed, Jaggery), Moduga flower, leaves of Maredu, Lotus flowers, Paddy by reciting the prescribed Vedic hymns. While adorning the Pavitram garlands, the texts insist that the small (‘Adhama’ category) garland is adorned first, then the medium (Madhyama Category) ones and then the Uttama one. After adorning them, 8 Upacharas are given to the Lord  Vishnu and then ‘Vanamala’ is adorned. After adorning the idol with Pavitrams, now the Homakundas, Kumbhas, Acharyas and Ritwiks wear the pavitram garlands. These Pavitrams must be kept on the idol atleast for 4 months, 3 months, 2 months, 1 month 15 days, 9, 7, 5, 3 days or at least 1 day. On the day of removing the garlands, Purnahuthi ritual is performed and these garlands can be distributed to the devotees as prasadam. In the Kumbhams installed for Pavitrotsavams, 9 Amsas of Lord Vishnu (Vishnu, Purusha, Satya, Achyuta, Aniruddha, Kapila, Yagna, Punya, Narayana) and 8 Digdevathas (Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirruti, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera, Eesana) are invoked and worshipped. After Purnahuthi, the Cosmic energy from the Kumbhams are transferred to the main deity to correct the lapses, if any.  While performing the Bali Haranam, apart from the regular Bali after Nityarchana, ‘Mudgannam’ or ‘Krisara Bali’ is performed for Asta Mangalams (9 Auspicius symbols installed around the Yagasala for protection. They are Srivatsam, Purna Kumbham, BhEri, Aadarsam, Matsya Yugmam, Ankusam, Sankham, Aavartam) and Panchayudhams ( Lord Vishnu’s 5 weapons viz., Sankha, Gadaa, Sarngam, Aseem, Chakra, )surrounding the Pradhana Kumbha Vedika. (‘Bali’ is a ritual in which food offering is offered to all Parivara deities in the temple. Bali consists of Pathram (sacred Tulasi leaves), Pushpam (Flowers), Thoyam (Sacred water) and Bali (Rice which is offered to Lord). This is part of daily worship in every Vishnu temple) Mudgannam: Rice and Bengal gram dhall boiled in water with Ghee and Salt. Krisarannam: Rice mixed with Sesame seeds.

History of Pavitrotsavams in Tirumala

History of Pavitrotsavams in Tirumala

(Article source: Sapthagiri TTD spiritual magazine)

Pavitrotsavam (or) Tiruppavitra Tirunal  These words literally mean “The festival of Purity”. An article, the use of which produces an effect of purity would be called Pavitram. Thus all Hindus use the Darbha Pavitram and the Darbha grass itself as a preliminary to attain a state of mental and moral purityfor the performance of some religious function or for meditation. In a temple, the Pavitrotsavam is celebrated every year for maintaining at a high level the spiritual atmosphere of the place. The Festival of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is held in the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Churches and which commemorates the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple is similar to this. When a boy of the twice-born caste among Hindus, is invested with the sacred Thread or Pavitra Aropahanam (Upanayanam) he is, considered to have become pavitram or pure The Deity would be decorated with the pavitram garlands which were dyed in five colours and made to look like a garland of beads by knotting the yarn with the silk thread. The continuous chanting of the Vedic hymns and the reading of the Puranas side by side with the homams performed each day created a halo round the entire area of the temple. There was an air of austerity about the festival. There was, however, the inevitable food offerings, morning and evening, on each day.

It is noteworthy that no part of the endowment was devoted for making payments to reciters of the Tamil Prabandhams which goes to show that, in the Tirumala temple, the Tamil Prabandham did not till 1464 A.D. gain a status of equality with the Sanskrit Vedas. Nor was there provision for making payments to temple pipers, the dancing girls or Emperumanadiyars; the makers of flower garlands, the temple cooks and other servants, who usually were paid additional remuneration for extra work. The festival continued to be celebrated till about 1562 A.D. and endowments were made from time to time during this period for additonal food offerings. It cannot be definitely stated when it became defunct and why. The loss of the villages endowed as the result of political changes might have been the cause. But considering the great sanctity attached to the Sravana Sukla Dvadasi as the day of Vishnu Pavitraropanam, the festival deserved to be revived. Pavitrotsavam has been resuscitated in the temple in recent years from 1962 onwards and is now conducted for four days starting four sravana sudha Dasami.