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Thursday, 16 August 2012

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HINDUISM

Annual Festival of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple

Nallur was the celebrated capital city of ancient Jaffna. After “Kathiramalai” (Kantherodai) Nallur flourished as capital of the Jaffna Kingdom. The chronicle of Jaffna history, the “YALPANA MALAI” described in detail how the city of Nallur was founded.

It mentioned how Singai Ariyan arrived at the request of Pandi Maluvan accompanied by priests and advisers and assumed the kingship of Jaffna. He built a city for his residence and named it as Nallur. Thus was founded the celebrated city of Nallur by Singai Ariyan, also referred to as Kulankai, who commenced his reign as the first “Ariya Chakravarty” king of Jaffna.

God Kandaswamy with his consorts Valli and Theivani

Nallur Kandaswamy Temple

Further, there are two schools of thought regarding the time or the era when Singai Ariyan arrived to assume the Kingdom. Rasanayaga Mudaliyar, basing his inferences as the Jaffna chronicles, had deduced Kulankai's reign as having been from 1210 A.C. To 1256 A.C. When Kulasekera Singai succeeded him.

In fact, the Jaffna chronicle also records that during the reign of Singai Ariyan, Minister Bhuvaneka Bahu completed the erection of the outside walls of the city and the Kandaswamy Temple. But, when Portuguese captured Jaffna in 1620 they demolished the Nallur temple and with the bricks of the demolished temple they built the Jaffna Fort.

Subsequently, the Dutch, who found a Catholic Church there, demolished it and erected a church of their faith, which may be the Nallur Church that is seen today. Eventhough the Dutch spread their own religion, they did not interfere with other religion and the Nallur temple was rebuilt by Ragunatha Mapana Mudaliyar in 1749 and daity poojas and rituals were conducted according to Agama principles.

The annual festival of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple commenced with the flag hoisting ceremony on July 24, 2012 and will end up with the chariot festival on August 16, 2012 and water-cutting ceremony on August 17, 2012.

In fact, the hoisting of the flag ceremony will be followed by various Yaagams, Abhisekams, Poojas and other ceremonies over a period of 25 days. These ceremonies are conducted in the Moolasthanam and in the Vasanthamandapam where poojas are offered to Utsava Murthi.

Even the Panchalati ritual at the end of the pooja is performed at all the shrines simultaneously creating a beautiful experience to the devotees. The chariot festival is a colourful festival followed by water-cutting ceremony on the next day. The Thirukkalyanam, the symbolic wedding ceremony is also conducted and finally the lowering of the flag. Indeed, each of these events has a deep significance corresponding to the Panchakritiyams or five activities of Godhood namely creation, preservation, dissolution, obscuration and granting of grace in one's one life. The highlight of the festival is the Ther or chariot festival.

On the day of the chariot festival the God Kandaswamy is colourfully decorated and illuminated and placed on the chariot and drawn by the devotees with the words “Haro Hara”. Further, the chariot festival is followed by the water-cutting ceremony where the deities taken to the temple pond or Kerni and is dipped in the water. Thereafter the devotees plunge into cleanse themselves of their sins. The origin of Murugan or Kandaswamy and the story of his veneration are of ancient interest. Even the puranas extol his legendary origin.

The Devas, when they proceeded to Mount Kailas to complain to Lord Shiva of their persecution by the Asuras, found him in deep meditation. On being awakened, a divine spark emanated from his frontal third eye. This was received in lake “Saravana Poikai”. There it was nurtured by the constellation Pleiads (Karthikai) and became six infants. They became one when they were fondly embraced by Divine Mother Goddess Parvathi. Therefore he is also known as Karthikeya.

Kandaswamy or Muruga, as a volourious youth is said to have performed several brave deeds including the imprisonment or Brahma and imparting the meaning of the sacred word AUM to Lord Shiva. Besides, God Skanda fought with Asura Leader Surapadman and defeated him.

Though Surapadman assumed several monstrous forms and shapes, he finally sought refuge in the form of a mango tree. Surapadman was ultimately defeated, but was not slain and he was commanded to serve God Skanda in the form of a peacock and was also given in his banner as a rooster cock. Thereafter, the Devas were released and they celebrated the victory.

In fact, the leaf shaped spear in God Skanda's hand signifies that a man's knowledge should be sharp. It should not only be sharp, it should also be wide. Further a man may be very intelligent and knowledgeable, but he should be humble in all his dealings.

As such, let us pray to God Kandswamy and receive His Divine Blessings.


Swamy Vivekananda A unique personality in the history of religion

The “Colombo Vivekananda Society Founders’ Day” was celebrated recently at Vivekananda society hall, Kotahena, Colombo 13 presided by A R Surendhran (President's Counsel) President of the society. Birender Singh, Counsellor (Press Information and Culture) High Commissioner of India was the chief guest.

Swamy Vivekananda was a unique personality in the history of religion. In an all-too brief life of 39 years, he traversed the entire gamut of spiritual experience by his Saddhanas and confirmed by his own personal testimony the profound truths enshrined in all religions.

He once said that “before flooding India with socialistic and political ideas, they should first deluge the land with spiritual ideas”. He felt deeply persuaded about the universal message of India's spirituality blazed forth by the contemplative seers and thinkers. He was agonized at the poverty, superstition, violence, disunity and other evils in India and he wanted to eradicate them.

He saw that a sound religion which satisfied the demands of realism and the needs of humanity can get right the world. He found that message not in the theoretical but in the practical Vedanta. He carried this message to the world.

It was a great day for Hinduism when in the parliament of religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893 the bell like voice of Swami Vivekananda's speech made an imperishable impression in the west. He caught the attention of the American press on the first day of parliament with his graceful presence dignified apparel and large lustrous eyes like spark of fire.

The Editor of the ‘Daily Chronicle” described the Swami as an excellent specimen of his race, very well proportioned as regards both body and brain. His roaring words of brothers and sisters of America made him all who heard him their master.

Value and virtues

Rooted in the past and full of pride in India's prestige, Swami Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life's problems. He wanted to combine western progress with India's spiritual background.

He defended the values and virtues of his faiths and opened the eyes of the Hindus to the glories of their heritage. As a loyal son of India Swami Vivekananda threw out a challenge and vindicated his cause in the forum of the world.

To him, religion was the manifestation of perfection in every human being. According to him “Service to Humanity means service to God”.

He heralded the dawn of a near era in human civilization by worshiping the living God, that is Man. By that he brought the whole world so near, made it so pleasant a family bound in a fraternal tie.

“Universal love was the core of the religions of man,” Swami Vivekananda said. Further, his tender heart bled for the teeming poor millions. He preferred serving the unfortunate lot and came in close touch with the masses of India. He inspired the whole of India, touching the whole country from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and everywhere emphatically said the same thing.

His image of India mirrored the deep love, the vision, the wisdom of the spiritual Guru of millions. It also ranked him as a prophet of New India.

He once said that India would be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit, not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love the garb of the Sannyasin, not by the power of wealth, but by the power of begging bowl. Talking about the great role of Swami Vivekananda, the former President of India late Dr S Radhakrishnan once said,’ It is not merely the people of India that require Swami Vivekananda's message.

The whole world today is passing through a crucible of doubt. Everywhere there is conflict between faith and doubt. Conviction on one side and the lack of conviction as the other. Throughout the world the people are having these problems. As such, human beings should adopt a religion for social transformation.

Patriotism

Indeed, as a Prince of Patriots Swami Vivekananda insisted on Character building and man made education combined with high degree of discipline, strength of mind, physical and spiritual. To him, love for the motherland was the first commandment, religion came next.

He raised the status of man by calling him, a child of immortal bliss, trials and tribulations, sufferings and setbacks, success and failure, doubts and despondency, disappointment and despair have never made him siverve from the path of righteousness and truth.

He devoted and dedicated his energy to build a new nation on the foundation of strength, equality of human beings are the universal religions of tolerance. He taught the higher truths through delightful parables and illuminating illustrations that solved the problems in an astonishingly simple way.

Good looking, ever smiling and the soul of wit and wisdom he attracted to himself all manner of people – men and women, young and old, scientists and nationalits, intellectuals and philosophers, pandits and traditionalists, ascetics and social reformers, dramatists and artistes.

Indeed, Swami Vivekananda's compassion knew no bounds. He taught the service of God through man. He spoke of many things, but the one constant refrain of his speech and writings were “Abhay – be fearless, be strong”. Undoubtedly, he was energy personified and action was his message to men.


Aadippoora Mahotsavam of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Temple

The 25th years Aadippoora Mahotsavam of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam Wellawatte, Colombo – 6 which commenced on July 23 will conclude with water-cutting ceremony at the sea (Charlemont Road Beach).

Further in one of his poems T S Eliot has described the predicament of man who with all the progress and success made in science and technology finds that endless inventions and experiments bring us knowledge of motion, but not of stillness. Knowledge of words and not of the word. Lord Shiva without Sakthi is all stillness since it is Shakthi which stirs him to motion and speech.

Shiva is the word and it is Shakthi which moves him to words. The union between them is represented by the image of Shiva as “Arthanariswaran”, half man and half woman. Further, Shakthi herself takes different forms, sometimes, she is stern and formidable.

Infact, of the many Gods in the Hindu Pantheon, none if reversed more than mother Goddess, she is Parvathy, Durgai, and Kali. Indeed, the compassion a mother shows not only to his Children, but also to the community has no parallel.

In the religious parlance the ‘Divine mother’ is termed as the extraordinary intermediary who pleads with God to show mercy to a real penitent when he may not be inclined to do so in view of the enormity of sinss.

Indeed, the Hindu temples are intended to instruct men in the art of removing the veil of attachment that covers their heads. Thus the renowned Poet “Thiyagarajah” cried in the temple at “Thirupathi” Remove the Veil, O! Remove the veil of attachment, the veil of pride and hatred.

The temples are the centres of discipline where the aspirant is guided step by step to attain a vision of the truth.

They are the schools for the training of the spirit, the promotes of sastraic studies.

They are meant for the testing of the values of life and inducing men to believe that the physical frame in which he lives is itself the House of God. In Hinduism, the Supreme Lord is represented by Maheswara and his power is represented by his consort Shakthi, Devi Durgai and Kali.

Just as the husband and wife take care of the families so does Shiva and Shakthi look after the affairs of the universe. Shakthi is the embodiment of power and she is the supreme power by which the world is made to function.

Miracles

The Colombo Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Temple is a miraculous temple and several devotees of this temple have been cured of their sickness. Even the President Mahinda Rajapaksa has visited this temple as several occasions to receive the divine blessings of Bathrakali Amman.

The late Pon Vallipuram who was the Chief Trustee of this temple built “Chithira Thera” “Pancharatham” with the financial contributions of several philanthropists, devotees and well-wishers. Today, this temple has a wedding hall, a hall for cultural activities and an “Araneri” school for the benefit of the Hindu students.

Festival precedence

During the Chariot festival the statue of Goddess Bathrakali is decorated and illuminated and taken alms the streets in chariot followed by Poojas, Bhajans and Archanai by devotees. The chariot is pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees with no racial differences where the rich and the poor mingle shoulders to shoulders, sweating together in pulling the body politics of the divine state, giving the Lord a chance to witness the peaceful progress that the community has made, clustering around the temple where the Goddess preside.

Furthermore, in the tradition of the Hindu literature, the “Chariot” or “Ther” is the replica of the human body. The duty in the sanctum or as the chariot reminds use of the truth that God is seated in the heart of each individual. In fact, the Gopuram in the temple with their marvellous decorations and motifs denote man's aspiration to “Godhood”.

Deities are taken and from the temple decorated and mounted on Vahanas or vehicles like the horse, elephant etc, for two reasons. The first is to help even those who are unable to

visit the temple and secondly to show the Maker of all creations.

In fact, the chariot which represents our body is yoked to four horses (the sense organs) wherein the individual sits, dejected and despondent, driven by the intellect which the mind guides the horses.

The horses represent human passions and the reins symbolise the necessity of restraining and guiding the passions.

The journey of the charist through the streets is an emblem of the progress of life and the lessor is that throughout his life one must control and guide the passions with the help of the soul. These passions are the driving force of life, but unguided will wreck a man's life. This is the symbolic meaning of the chariot or their festival.

Indeed, to a world lost in error and weighed down by forces of darkness of ignorance and arrogance, conflicts and contradictions, trials and tribulations, let us worship Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman at Wellawatte, Colombo – 6 and utter Her pure name and contemplate and surrender ourselves at Her lotus feet for the progress and success of our lives and also for the everlasting peace, eternal prosperity, racial harmony, unity, amity and sanity.

CM

 

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