Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preparation for the day begins

March 31, 9 a.m. 

This morning we see about 15 people making flower garlands inside the temple. They are seated inside the temple's mandap and are preparing garlands for the days' vahanam. Delhi Babu is the person who is in-charge here.
Behind them were few people rubbing Neem oil to the poles used for carrying the vahanams.
The vahanams that is to be used in the coming days were being cleaned. 
Many foreigners were taking photographs and speaking to people about the importance of this festival.
Activities outside the temple had also increased. Many hawkers set up their wares on the road. Many pandals for food and drinks were also set up.

Chandra Prabha vahanam

It was nearly 10.20 p.m. on March 29 when the procession of Lord Kapali on Chandra Prabha vahanam took a turn to South Mada Street near Chithirai Kulam. 
Once the procession moved, the Vedic scholars coming behind chanting the Vedas, sat on the road in front of Chitrakulam Gandhi statue under the pandal and continued the chant.
This was in order to gain some distance in front to follow the procession as it was going very slow.
The teen age volunteers, plenty in number, enjoyed the whole event fully. One girl supplied them water packets.  
Kids in the age group of 6 and 7 without footwear, mounted the platform and sat on the backside of Lord Vinayaka's chariot.
There was a group headed by Sathish from Thiruvannamalai.  They play the percussion instrument called Voodal.  This is played when Shiva does the Thandava, says Sathish.  He also said that this instrument is available only in the temple of Thiruvannamalai.  Their group has been given accommodation in Karpagambal Kalyana Mantapam opposite Sai Baba Temple.  They will stay there for 10 days till the festival comes to a close.  
- Reported by V. Vasantha

Friday, March 30, 2012

Celebration of another legend

The procession of Adhikara Nandi made a stop on South Mada Street, midway. It was about 10 am then.
Volunteers from the temple brought up the images of Thirugnanasambandar and that of his father.
The image of the later was taken down to the temple tank, watered, decorated and brought up again.
The spectacle lasted for about 30minutes and many devotees stepped into the tank to watch.
The oduvar sang in front of the Sambandar image, while the archakas walked down to the image of the ambal, got a gold-plated pot of milk and symbolically fed the image of Thirugnanasambandar.
Meanwhile, devotees who had also shared their pots of milk got it offered and blessed and took it back; some distributed it, some took it home.
Celebration of another legend associated with a bhakta of Lord Siva.

More photos of Adikara Nandi event

The photos here are a sample of those shot by contributor Divya Srinithi, a Communications student of Chennai. See more picture here.

The procession moves down East Mada Street . .

7.15 am.

To a rousing play by the band and the nagaswaram troupe, the adhikara nandi procession moves to its next stop - on East Mada Street, opposite the Vanniar Mantapam.

In the backdrop, is the bare chariot, the ther of the temple - soon, workers will begin decorating the ther for the big procession on April 3 morning.

The shutters of the garage that houses the 'ther' have been pulled up now.

Five priests seated at the foot of the vahanam take turns to raise the offerings to the Lord.

This is a working day in Chennai - just now about one thousand people are all around the vahanam and on East Mada Street - waiting for their turn to offer prayers.

This morning as we turned into the temple zone, into South Mada Street.

The veedhi was an eyesore - vegetable waste and garbage lay on either side of the street even as the early hawkers opened for business.

There is a need to clean the veedhis at festival time.

It is 7.25 am.

The band plays a quick note and the procession has just moved and come to stay alongside Nadu Street - a street which was home to the late artist-musician S. Rajam.

It is 7.30 am. A whistle blows. The band plays a English tune, the volunteers swing the vahanam as if the Lord likes to enjoy the event, and the vahanam stops outside the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

It will take a few hours before the procession ends at the temple.

Click here to see more pictures of the procession.

Photos . .

Queues form at 16-pillar mantapam. . .

6.40 am.
A queue forms on East Mada Street, outside the showcase of Rasi Silks.
Traffic has been suspended on the mada veedhis to facilitate the procession. 
The queue leads to the vahanam of Lord Vinyaka.

Up at the mantap, the nagaswaram troupe plays on as devotees flock around the adhikara nandi vahanam.
The Lord has been dressed in pink angavastram, with bilva garlands hang all around the Lord and drops from His hands.
On either side, are the vahanams of Lord Muruga and the ambal. While a gandharva playing the veena forms the vahanam for Muruga, a gandharvi with a veena hosts the ambal.

Devotees now offer zari-laced veshtis which the priests use to adorn the nandi and put it away.

Adhikara Nandi procession begins . . .

It is 6 am, this Friday morning.
We are in Sannidhi Square, where the 16-pillar mantap stands.

Today is the day of the Adhikara Nandi.
The procession has just come out from the temple. It is led by the image of Lord Vinayaka.
While the Lord who removes our obstacles was wheeled down to the area of the ther, the nandi vahanam stopped at the mantap.

The vahanam sparkles in the first rays of the sun, being silver plated. Workers had given it a final polish yesterday to prepare it for the procession.
Decorated with a rich mix of flowers and jewellery, around the vahanam and the Lord, this was time to allow the early devotees to offer prayers.

As time passed, the flow of devotees has begun to increase. Some break coconuts in front of the image of Lord Vinayaka, offer prayers and move to the 16-pillar mantapam.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Colourful kolam decorations . . .

There are wonderful paintings on the floor of the temple, executed specially for the festival.
These are the works of Jayanthi Subramaniam.

A resident of Chinmaya Nagar, Jayanthi spent a few days creating the colourful images at different spots around the camps - one in front of kodi maram ( flag post), one alongside the Navaratri mantap, one at the Singaravelar shrine . . .

She and her team sat on the floor and executed these designs which are basically kolam patterns, coloured and with local images.
Jayanthi says she undertakes such assignments for weddings, temple festivals and social events.

When you do visit the temple this week, look for these decorations and take them in.

Jayanthi resides at 108, Godavari Street, Chinmaya Nagar. Call 93646 10445

Surya-vattam vahanam at Mangollai stop: Mar.29 morning

Click here to see more pictures of the procession.

Video link of Surya-vattam vahanam

Here is the video link of the Surya-vattam vahanam procession. These videos were taken by V. Vasantha.

Lord Kapali leaves Mangollai  -

Lord Kapali dances to English note -  

A Sambandar legend; enacted during Adhikara Nandi procession

There is a special stop of the Adhikara Nandi procession, to be held on March 30 morning.
The procession will stop on South Mada Street, opposite Vasantha Bhavan restaurant to recall an ancient legend.
The story goes that the child Thirugnanasambandar was once left to fend for himself and kept crying in hunger. Lord Shiva responded by sending his wife to the spot  - she fed him with milk.
During the procession, the images of the ambal and Sambandar will be lowered and the latter will be symbolically fed with milk by priests. The custom of devotees is to also bring milk and share it with others at this point of the procession.
Watch closely on Friday at about 7am here.
Photo shows the incident painted on the mantap on the southern banks of the tank.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 2: stop at mango grove!

The procession of the gods on the 2nd day of the fest ( March 29 morning) will make a stop at what is now known as Mangollai ( the junction of North Mada and East Mada Streets).
Now, Mangollai has a huge history behind it – it being the key space for public political meetings since the 40s. These meetings continue to this day – that they mess up the traffic movement on the mada veedhis ia another story!
On Thursday morning, the stop at Mangollai enacts an ancient tradition. The Gods stopped at what was once a lovely mango grove; here devotees would make offerings.
The stop is not forgotten though all you have now is a shanty space for the poor and a buzzing tiffin kadai.

Ancient banyan poles; used in processions

Take the polished logs ( 32 feet in length) used to carry the main images of the gods in key festivals.
There are 2 logs cut out of banyan trees which are said to be over 100 years old.
Before using them for key events like Panguni festival ( used on three days), the logs are soaked in neem oil for about two weeks. This strengthens the logs and keeps off disease.
The volunteers who carry the images of the gods use the logs in processions.
Photo by R. Saravanan shows the logs being readied for the Adhikara Nandi procession on March 30. There are loads of temple accessories and items that carry vintage value. Each has a role to play in key events here.

Golden Bhadra-lingam

The bali-peedam is a neighbour of the kodi-maram in temples.
There is a large one at Sri Kapali Temple too, on the western side.
Now, a donor has arranged for the entire peedam to be gold cast on copper sheets.
At the kodietram ceremony on Wednesday morning, the golden peedam shone in the morning sunshine.
Both, the peedam and kodi-maram have now been protected by cast iron railings.
- Photo by R. Saravanan

Soil from P. S. School . . .

A prayer for everything good.
A simple, but standard practice that the community undertakes for all auspicious events like temple fests, weddings and the like was also undertaken by priests at Sri Kapali Temple.
This was on March 27 evening.
Following a procession of lord Chandikeswarar and Astradevar inside the temple, the processionists headed to P. S. High School playground.
Here, they stopped at a marked space and dug up some of the soil and carried the soil back to the temple. The melam kept the beat.
The soil was taken to the temple, watered and navadhaniyam sown here.
The clump of plants will be cared for and pujas done twice a day since their well-being also bodes well for the fest and the community.
The main gurukkal says this is called the angooram puja.
He recalls that even this simple event used to be a grand one – the processionists would be accompanied by rousing music troupes and a large number of devotees.
- Photo and reportage by R. Saravanan

Video link of flag hoisting

Here is the video link of the flag hoisting and the gandarva doll showering flowers on the images of the God. These videos were taken by V. Vasantha.

The flag goes up . . .

March 28, Wednesday.
In the western yard of Sri Kapali Temple.
Even as the city wakes up to a stuffy morning ( temperatures in the 30s), over 300 people gather around the flag mast for the first big event of the Panguni Fest here.

There is a quiet expectation all around as the priests prepare to hoist the white flag.
And then, at 6.25 am, to the beats of the band, the music of the nagaswaram and the peals of the giant bell, the flag is hoisted.

The music and peals continue as does the band.
The flag is hoisted with a pure white long cloth.
Over the next 10minutes, the priests wind the cloth tightly around the plated mast.

Click here to see more pictures of this event.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prayers to the amman, for a great celebration

March 27. 10 am.
Day One of the Panguni Fest at Sri Kapali Temple. The morning was for the Kolavizhi Amman at the temple on G N Chetty Street, Mylapore. This is the grama-devathai.

Staff of Sri Kapali Temple, celebrating the Panguni Fest brought all the items required for the abhishekam of the amman.

More than 100 devotees were at hand to take part. Abhishekams using coconut water, milk, curd and honey and finally, the panchamirtham ( fruits mix) were performed.
The special invitation card for the panguni fest was placed in front of the amman to seek blessings for a smooth celebration.
The podavai ( sari) gifted by the team from Sri Kapali Temple was wrapped around the amman. Deeparadhanai was a long-winded one and after it was performed for the amman it was presented to the devotees.
Prasadam of nei-vedhiyam and pongal was distributed.
Finally, the items used for the archanai and offered to the amman and the prasadam were placed in plates and the staff of the Amman Tenple and the Kapali Temple took it away to be presented to officers and trustees of the Mylapore temple.
The ceremonies started at 11 am and ended at about 12.30 p.m.

Click here to see more pictures of this event

Monday, March 26, 2012

Online coverage timings of Panguni fest

Reports, photos, videos and other information about the Panguni fest will be posted during the key hours of the festival. The following are the timings that the event will be covered.

March 28, Flag hoisting: 5.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.

March 30, Adhikaara Nandi procession: 5.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.

April 1, Rishaba Vahanam procession: 5.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. on April 2.

April 3, Ther procession: 7 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.

April 4, Aarabathumoovar procession: 2.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

April 6, Thiru Kalyanam: 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Final preparations on for Panguni Fest

Preparation work is on in full swing at the Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore for the upcoming Panguni Fest.

Large pandals were set on the four Mada Streets.
Long poles made out of alamara vizhudu (banyan tree root) used to carry the vahanams were polished with oils. These 32 feet long poles are 100 years old. It is used only for selected occasions like Adhikaara Nandi, Rishaba Vahanam and Silver vahanam.

Jayanthi Subramanian a painter had painter the Rishaba Kunjaram inside the temple.

The silver Mushikavahanam that will carry the image of Lord Ganesh in a procession on March 27 was given a silver polish.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Festival Sidelights

When the utsava moorthy comes out of the temple, He rests in the 16-pillar mandapam, in the eastern side of the temple. This mandapam, which is locked up most of the year, is opened and cleaned for the Brahmotsavam. Women of the area, wash the street, and decorate them with beautiful kolams .

The last day's festival, Bhikshatana, is truly appropriate, as the idol of the lord as an ascetic with a skull bowl in hand is taken around.
Kapaleeswarar means 'King of Ascetics'. At Pralaya, Siva alone exists with the ascetic's bowl of a skull (Kapala) in hand, ready to take on the role of creator.
The Goddess Karpagambal is named after the wish-yielding Kalpaka Vriksham that fulfills the devotee's wishes. But the Goddess is believed to grant only those wishes that she deems appropriate and not all that the devotees wish for.

 One of the customs followed at the festival was that of fishermen pulling the ther. It is believed that the temple may have invited fishermen to help with the pulling of the ther because of their association with Lord Siva.
But the tradition was discontinued a long time ago.
Viswanatha Sivachariar, a Mylapore-based scholar and former head priest of the Sri KapaliTemple, once told us that fishermen used to drink before pulling the ther, but sometimes, they would run amok, and even leave the 'ther' somewhere along the way.
Today, the ther is pulled by devotees. Irrespective of caste, or creed, thousands of devotees pull the ther around the four Mada streets. The idol of Lord Siva inside the ther bears a bow and arrow. This is the Swami Thripura Samaham.

Nadaswaram vidwans of the stature of Thiruavaduthur Rajarathinam Pillai, Thiruvidaimarudur Veeraswami Pillai and Thiruvizhimamizhilai Brothers, Nataraja Sundaram Pillai and Subramaniam Pillai, used to play at the festivals. Thavil supremo Neeramangalam Meenakshisundaram Pillai, used to be hired specially, and not as a part of the nadaswaram ensemble.
The band, at the end of every night after the procession, as the deity moves back into the temple, plays the tune 'For he is a jolly good fellow'.
Papanasam Sivan sang of the Adhikara Nandi in his song 'Kaana Kan Kodi Venum' 
The return of the procession of Rishaba Vahanam ( this year it starts on April 1, 10.30 pm and end the next morn by 7 a.m.) is also a must-see ritual - turn up by 5.30 a.m. on Sannidhi Street.

<< If you wish to share some less known but unique features of this fest, please email a note to - >>

Snapshots of Panguni

The flag in the temple courtyard is significant. The tradition goes that once the flag is hoisted in the temple (kodiyettam) no one leaves the area.
This is a throwback to an age-ld tradition. Once a temple festival starts, signified by the hoisting of the flag, no one is allowed to leave the village till it is brought down after the festival.

The Kolavizhi Amman (a form of Mariamman) is worshipped before the festival, because she is the Kaval Deivam (guardian angel) of the temple and its neighbourhood. This tradition reminds us that Mylapore was once a village. Some people may say it still is!

Tradition requires the usage of certain flowers on particular days - yellow flowers for Adhikara Nandi, white on Rishaba Vahanam. And roses on Arubathumoovar, says V. Veeraswamy of Mandaveli.

Tha. Che. Kumaraswamy or Thandarai Vaidhyar as he used to be called, was a well known benefactor. He set aside a small portion of his income towards the making of the silver kavacham of the Adhikara Nandi vahanam.
This was made in 1917. Says wellknown artist Maniyam Selvan, Vaidhyar's great-grandson, "To this day our family gets the 'mudal mariyadhai' on this day to decorate and worship."

Arubathumoovar day is when the 63 nayanmars go out in procession with the Lord. They lead the procession, and the Lord follows.
Others also join in.
Lord Vairaswamy from Chintadripet, comes decked in all His glory and wealth to see Lord Siva, and the strength of His bhakthas.
With the 63 saints, nine Thonai Adiyar (totally 72 idols), devotees who attained moksha by worshipping Siva are also taken around in procession.
Also, the image of Thiruvalluvar from the temple dedicated to him, joins this procession.
Take a position opposite Rasi store on April 4 after 4 pm to take in these developments.

The thirukalyanam on the final day of the festival is a colourful event. (This year it is on April 6, 8.30 pm onwards). Two temple priests represent the Lord and consort, Parvathi, and go through the wedding rites.
After that, the procession has Siva sitting on the ten-headed Ravana, strumming a veena which sports one of Ravana's heads.
Normally, the nadaswaram and temple band lead the procession but on this evening, only the mukha veena is played.
Enjoyable sight. Lasts for about 90 minutes.

Metaphysical meanings of rituals

Every day's ritual has a certain significance that has metaphysical connotations.
Day 1 - The 'Jiva' is relieved from material body and attains subtle form.
Day 2 - The impermanent nature of the world perceived as existing;  god's function of sustenance of the world.
Day 3 - Karmas accquired are to be expiated with suitable understanding of the realities.
Day 4 - The veiling of the Lord from jivas, and allowing them to exhaust the fruits of their deeds
Day 5 - The jiva learns about the true knowledge, through an acharya.
Day 6 - The primordial creation in gross form, and preservation in destruction.
Day 7 Preservation of subtle elements in the deluge. The acharya instructs the jiva on the dissolution of eternal truth.
Day 8 - The veil of illusion is removed, and the jiva acquires all the eight qualities of the lord, except that of creation.
Day 9 - This indicates the ascending order of creation, ending with absolute realisation of Siva principle.
Day 10 - The enjoyment of absolute bliss with Siva. The day of the thirukalyanam.

Information courtesy: Books by K. A. Sabharatnam Sivacharya

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Music, dance events; vidaiyatri

Vidaiyatri is a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of a hectic fest.
So as part of the Panguni fest, there will music and dance, periya puranam and such events in the Navaratri mantap inside the Kapali Temple.

Vidaiyatri starts on April 8 to 17, evenings from 5.45 pm to 9 pm. There will be two events daily.

Concerts include those by Bombay Jayashri ( April 8, 7 pm), Vijay Siva ( April 9, 7 pm), T M Krishna ( April 10 evening), Ambica Buch group's dance ( April 11), S Sowmya ( April 14) and Kuchipudi natyam by Deepika Reddy and group (April 19 ).

Open to all.

Web cast of all events

Make a note of this web site -
Temple officers say that all key rituals of the Panguni fest will be web streamed here.

The facility is made available for all devotees who may not be able to be present at the temple for the fest.

Five new kodais readied, giant pandal set up

Five new umbrellas (kodais) for the gods have been specially made for the Panguni fest at Sri Kapali Temple.

They have been created by traditional artistes based in Chinnadaripet ( Chintadripet).
They will be used for the first time this Panguni.

These and other details were shared by Executive Officer, A. T. Paranjyoti at a press meet held at the temple office on Wednesday evening.

He said a giant pandal is being erected on the eastern yard outside the gopuram. Hundreds of people who visit the temple will be provided annadhanam at 12 noon during the fest period.

Security stands are being erected on all 4 mada veedhis for police to keep an eye and secure the area.
Police will also be on patrol in boats in the temple tank.

Daily, mornings and evenings Veda parayanam, thevara -pan-isai and nagaswaram will be held in and around the temple, the officer said.

Grama devathai in G N Chetty Street

The grama devathai pooja for the Panguni festival will be held on March 27 from 10 a.m. onwards.
It will be held at the Kolavizhi Amman Temple in G. N. Chetty Street, off Kutchery Road.

The image of kolavizhi amman in this temple is made of bronze.
It is said to be over 2000 years old, says pujari Dhanasekar.

The main deity here is Bhadrakali amman. The legend is that the kolavizhi amman's presence is to 'cool' the Bhadrakali.

This is a busy place. Unmarried girls pray for early marriage at the feet of varahi-swami.

On March 27, after the puja in the morning priests will carry the puja items to Sri Kapali Temple.
The ritual is held to pray that the fest be celebrated well and for the people's well-being.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First event for Panguni fest is on March 27

The gramadevathai pooja ritual which flags off the annual Panguni fest of Sri Kapali Temple will take place at the Kolavizhi amman temple, off Kutchery Road.
Being the goddess who cares for all the residents of the Mylapore neighbourhood, any such grand fest like Panguni begins with an obeisance to her. This event is on March 27, 10 am onwards.
The fest is from March 27 to April 8.
The following are the important highlights of the festival.
March 28, 6 a.m.: Flag hoisting
March 30, 6 a.m.: Adhikaara Nandi procession
April 1, 10.30 p.m.: Rishaba Vahanam procession
April 3, 7.30 a.m.: Ther procession
April 4, 3 p.m.: Aarabathumoovar procession
April 6, 8.30 p.m.: Thiru Kalyanam
For details contact the temple office at 2464 1670.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Panguni fest preparations

The annual Panguni festival at Sri Kapali Temple will be held from March 28 to April 6. The pandakkal vizha  will be held on March 12 from 5.30 a.m. onwards.

The important highlights of the Panguni fest:

March 28 : Flag hoisting
March 30: Adhikaara Nandi procession
April 1: Rishaba Vahanam procession
April 3: Ther procession
April 4: Aarabathumoovar procession
April 6: Thiru Kalyanam