Padmanabha Dasa Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma Maharaja
सहस्त्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्त्राक्षसहस्त्रपात्
स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वा अत्यतिष्ठद्दशान्गुलम्
sahasrasirsa purusah sahasraaksasahasrapaat
sa bhumim visvato atyatishaddasangulam
He, the Purusha of a thousand heads, of a thousand eyes, of a thousand feet is omnipotently on this Earth and ten fingers beyond ALL.
The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the celebrated 108 Maha Vishnu Temples in India, has a most hoary tradition of nearly or more than a thousand years. The seven acres of land of the Temple has the only one symbol for worship VIGRAH/Murthi that is the human concept of the ABSOLUTE DIVINITY in the form of the 18-feet long Sree Padmanabha Swamy comprising 12,008 Saligram Silas from the Gandaki (Govardhana) river in Nepal. The concept of the scriptural information is, where there are 12 Saligrams, that is a Maha Kshetra, a great temple. Sree Padmanabha Swamy’s darsan therefore means the worship of 1,000 such temples.
The rituals are many and magnificent as will be seen from the list of daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, half-yearly, annually and sexennially (once in six years). May a study of these marvellous acharas convey to the devotees the concept of:
हृद्पद्मे पद्मनाभो मे सहस्रार्क समप्रभः
सर्वायुधः सर्वशक्तिः सर्वज्ञः सर्वतोमुखः
hrtpadme padmanaabho me sahasraarka samaprabhah
sarvayudhah sarvasakthi sarvajnah sarvathomukhah
In the lotus of my heart is Padmanabha, effulgent as a thousand suns. (He) is all armed, all-powerful, all knowing and all seeing.
Achara is Rite or Ritual and that means Consisting of Rites for surrendering to GOD. Likewise it is a procedure of solemn observations in a pure, pristine and perfect manner.
The Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple has 54 forms of rituals which are set forth in detail along with this. The Agama Tantra is the basis of these forms of worship, which embellish the continuing sanctity of this wonderful and unique temple; where a worship is equal to the worship of a thousand temples. The ensuing Murajapam and Lakshadeepam ceremonies that are done once in Six Years make one more milestone in the history of this place of Worship from 1510 A.D.
RITUALS IN SREE PADMANABHA SWAMY TEMPLE
The rituals at the temple begins with the ‘TRIKKAPPU TURAPPU’, ie., daily morning at 3′ O clock, the temple/shrine (Garbha Griham) opens with the mellifluous sounds of the Sanghu and Panchavadyam. This is followed by’ ABHISHEKAM’ for the Abhisheka Moorthies comprising Sree Padmanabhaswamy, Lakshmi Devi and Bhoomi Devi. The ‘ETHIRETTU POOJA’ comes next and is the pooja of adored welcome.
The next ritual is ‘PALPAYASA NIVEDYAM’ while the ‘MADHYANYA PUJA/UCHA POOJA’ is, as the word says the poojas in the Madhyanham (10.00 AM to 2.00 PM.) Evening POOJA and special DEEPARADHANA with 7 Effulgent modes is in the evening and the Garbha Griha closes after ‘ATHAZHA POOJA’ in the night.
Apart from these rituals, the Padmanabha Prabandham, Ramayanam, Bhagwat Gita, Narayan Kavacham, Sahasranamam, Purushasooktham, Mahabharatham-Thiruvambadi and Bhagavatham are read daily.
In the month of October/November, there is the parayanam (reading) of the Kaveri Mahatmyam. In November, the Kritthika Puranam is recited while the Magha Puranam is read in February/March and the Vaisakha Puranam in April.
On the 1st of every Malayalam month and on the nakshathrams of Karthika, Ayilyam, Uthram, Chithira, Chothi, Visakham, Mulam, Thiruvonam, Uhtrattathi OTTA THULAA payasam is offered as Bhog. Certain poojas are done weekly or on certain nakshartras or days of the week. On all Mondays, there is pooja for Kshetrapalan, and on Saturdays there is Abhishekarn for Sastha, with gingelly oil and Jaggery payasam Nivedyam.
On all Thiruvonarn days, abhishekam with gingelly oil is performed for the Garuda.
Similarly on all Karthika, Ayilyam, Uthram, Chithira, Chothi, Visakham, Mulam and Uthrattathi Nakshathram days, the deities of Sree Padmanabhaswamy, Lakshmy Devi and Bhoomi Devi are adorned with sandalwood, known as MUZHUKKAPPU alamkaram. For’ PONNUM SEEVELI’, all three deities of Sree Padmanabhaswamy, Sree Narasimhaswamy and Sree Krishnaswamy are taken for Seeveli Yatra within the corridors of the Temple. This is done on Thiruvonam Nakshatram and on ‘Sukla Ekadesi’,’Karutha vavu’ and ‘Pachadasi’. On Thiruvonam nights, it will be the Ananthavahanam and on other days it will be Simhasana Vahanam. This Seeveli can be done as a seva by devotees as well.
Special Nivedyams are offered daily while ‘Mangala Vadyams’ are played at the time of the Thiruvonam Seeveli. Kattiya Seva is at the end of the Deeparadhana. Vinayaka Chathurthi is auspicious for Agrasala Ganapathi.
In the Sravana month, on the day of Thiruvonam Nakshatram and three days thereafter, ‘VILLU CHARTHU’ a unique seva is performed in the temple. Wooden bows with the pictures of the Lord, Mahalakshmi, Bhudevi, Garuda, Hanuman, Lamps, the Sun and Moon are kept upright on either side for Sree Padmanabha swamy. The same is done for Sree Narasimhaswamy but the pictures would be of the Dasavatarams, for Sree Krishnaswamy, the pictures would be from the Krishna Leela and for Sree Ramaswamy, the theme would be from the Ramayanam. This is also the day of the PRATHISTA.
Ashtami Rohini is also celebrated with rituals and prayers at the temple. In the same month, on the day of Uthram, there is a special bhog of Otta Thula payasam.
During Navarathri there are daily Seevelis. Maha Ganapathi Homam is also performed at the temple.
The TIRU UTSAVAM, conducted twice a year in April and November is another unique ritual here. A month prior to this ‘ANUJNA’ has to be taken for conducting the festival by a meeting of yogam and getting permission from the Lord by “Poo Panthu”.
In addition, there are the two-day, and ten-day utsavams, Vahana Vivarams, Manjaneeru, Pallivetta and Arat.
During the ten-day ulsavams, there are Sahasra Kalasams on 10 days with 7 dravyas. THIRUVILAKKAM is a grand ceremony performed on the day prior to flag hoisting in the Alankara Mandapam.
There are several special bhogs on certain days which are given below.
- Vrishchika – 52 days of special bhogs from 1st of the month.
- Thrikkarthika – Bhog of roots.
- Dhanu – Pongal bhog during the whole month.
- Thiruvathira – bhog – (sweet appam) in the month of Dhanu itself.
- Jack fruit bhog – in Karkataka.
- NIRAYUM PUTHARIYUM – Newly harvested grains made with jaggery bhog
In addition, the Makara Seeveli (Northern Soltice) and Siveli on the occasion of Swargavathil Ekadasi is also conducted.
PERUMTHAMRITHU POOJA – After each Seeveli on the two solstice days (Northern and Southern), a magnificent feast would be offered to the Lord including a very fabulous payasam – the Ratnapayasam.
Festivals like Sivarathri and VISHU are also observed at the Sree Padmanhaswamy Temple. Vishukani is arranged at the temple for the Malayalam new year on Vishu.
Chithira Pournami, Palmanga Nivedyam and the Second Kalabham are some of the other rituals at the temple.
Murajapam is a grand occasion observed every six years. The Four Vedas and the Sahasranamam, is recited for a period of 56 days culminating in the fabulous and magnificent LAKSHADEEPAM adoration with lights. This is an unbroken custom, which is being observed from 1510 A.D. onwards.
It is this adherence to tradition and Vedic form of worship that sets this temple apart from many of the larger temples in South India. More than architectural magnificence or aesthetics, it is bhakthi that prevades the temple and makes it unique.
Courtesy: SURRENDER – Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Renovation Souvenir 2002.