SRI THIRUPPAVAI MAHOTSAVAM and SRI ANDAL KALYANOTSAVAM - Final Day 11th September 2009
Posted at 11:30 hrs. on 12th Sept 2009
Divinity ‘deserves’ the best and the occasion, The Divine Marriage of Lord Ranganatha with great devotee Sri Andal, symbolically signifying Divinity’s acceptance of pure devotion, in presence of the Mighty Avatar of the Age deserved the splendor befitting the grandeur of the occasion.
The final day, the final session of the three day Andal Kalyanotsavam had the gaiety and splendor of a marriage, not ordinary, but of Divine stature. …And in the presence of the Mighty Lord, the occasion turned out to become a splendorous heavenly treat for the thousands of devotees congregated to witness the proceeding on the concluding day of the three day Thiruppavai Mahotsavam and Andal Kalyanotsavam.
On the auspicious evening the stage was set for the symbolic ritual, representing the grand culmination of Sri Andal’s Divine Romance with Lord Ranganatha of Sri Rangam.
Reflecting the grandeur of the occasion, resounding in its tenor, the venue bore the festive look of a royal marriage. A large canvas of Sri Ranganatha’s supine posture in the ocean of milk with Bhagawan ensconced in the centre was suspended in the central part of the hall. Bhagawan came much early at 16:15 Hrs. and the proceedings started once He settled on the dais that was a sight to behold.
Flowers and festoons of varied hues parading all over, collage of various fruits adorning central stage of decoration, hanging from the top, huge bunch of coconuts covering the twin pillars, artistic décor with coconut leaves adding beauty and aesthetic sense, the dais reflected the unmatched glory of the Lord of all Lords whose presence was the richness of the heavenly occasion of the Divine marriage on the auspicious evening. …And down in the spacious Sai Kulwant, it was decoration all over, with scores of plantain trees posted at the periphery of the hall, huge pillars draped in colourful floral buntings, apart from the normal decorations.
The idols of Sri Rangamannar and Sri Andal were brought in separate palanquins with a regal procession carrying the aesthetically decorated Idols. The symbolic procession that started right in the centre portion of the spacious hall was typical simulating the royal grandeur of an elephant carrying the Lord in procession, popularly known as "GajaNade", the traditional elephant walk. The procession culminated at the dais, the venue for the marriage.
Bridal mysticism is one of the nine modes of relationships with the Lord where the relationship is similar to that one between the bride and the groom. The soul of the devotee is the bride and God is the Bridegroom; their union is recognised as the spiritual marriage. The great outpourings of Andal to realise the Lord as her husband are full of this experience of Bridal mysticism.
The marriage was performed to the chant of the Vedas. Every item that was offered to the Lord and Sri Andal like Tambulam (banana, a pair of betel leaf and betel nut), Yajnopaveetam (sacred thread), Kankan (protective thread worn in the hand) and Mangalyam (nuptial thread) was blessed by Bhagawan. After garlands were exchanged between the two idols, Mangalyam was tied on Sri Andal by the priests to the shower of flower petals. The magnificently decorated idols were then placed together. Clothes blessed by Bhagawan were offered to the idols. All through the rituals nadaswaram was played supplementing to the festive atmosphere.
After a few bhajans by the students of Sri Sathya Sai University, there was a garland of songs presented by the group, claimed to be the “Students of Sri Sathya Sai Universe”. The songs sung were befitting to the occasion. Starting with “Andal kalayana vaibhogame, Rangamannar kalyana vaibhogame …”, they continued with “Sai Easwari, Sathya Sai Easwari jagat palini …”, “Sabkha malik ek hai, Allah malik moula malik …” They concluded their presentation with a Tamil song “Amma enral anbu…” (mother means love). Echoing their sentiments before the song, they said, “You are always with us mother Sai; whenever we are in trouble, you are there to protect us.” At the end of the session the group was blessed by Bhagawan. Sumptuous prasadam of bobattu (sweet puri), laddu, tamarind rice and sweet pongal, in tune with the grandeur of the occasion, was distributed to the huge gathering of devotees and students.
Earlier the morning function started with collective chanting of Sri Lalitha Sahasranama with archana (worship). Then Panchamruta Abhishekam was done to the idols with ritualistic precision. After the ceremonial oil bathing of the idols, the abhishekam (ceremonial bath) commenced with milk, honey, turmeric, curd, vermilion and sandalwood paste. As the abhishekam was in progress, Vedic Mantras like Purusha Suktam, Sri Suktam and the remaining 21-30 pasurams were chanted by the priests. After abhishekam, the idols were decorated with Tulasi (basil) garland. Arati was offered to the idols after every abhishekam. The morning session concluded with bhajans and arati.
It was a grand evening that witnessed the participation of the Lord in physical to the fullest extent. One would wonder, where else on planet earth one could witness such occasion other than in Prasanthi Nilayam wherein the glory of the occasion multiplies to infinite proportions by the mere presence of the Almighty Avatar of the Age, witnessing and sanctifying the grand occasion.
It was the turn of Sri Ramakrishna Iyer serving in the Publications Division of Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust to offer rose to Bhagawan this evening. Arati was offered to Bhagawan at 1815 hours before Bhagawan retired to His Divine Abode, Yajur Mandiram.