Friday, February 24, 2012





Hindu Religion gives us the freedom to worship the Supreme in many ways and forms of which   'Prathima   Upaasana'   (worship by concentration through the medium of consecrated images or symbols, chakras etc.), and, 'Praatika Upaasana' (worship by meditation through sound symbols like OM) are widely practiced.  Both these forms are conveniently practiced in Temples, where one can feel the presence of God (Saannidhyam), which practice leads to greater heights in a spiritual atmosphere.    Electrical energy is everywhere. But, in order to bring this to our daily use, we need to build generators and include transmission systems to channelize and distribute the same at places where we need it.  In the same way, in order to get the grace of God we have to build temples where we can focus the Lord in consecrated idols. This process of consecration is called "Praana Pratishta".     The vital airs, the organs of perception and activity in the devotee or the learned priest who performs the rituals on his behalf, who is the microcosm of the Universe that is macrocosm, are transferred by gestures to the accompaniment of mantras on to the image or idol, wherein the manifestation of the Supreme (Ishta Devata) is devoutly invoked.  After the consecration, the image in the sanctum is no more looked upon as a stone or bronze image.  Now it is the Lord Himself worshipped in all His glory.     


The "Pratishta " ritual begins with "karshana" ploughing done when the temple site is selected, followed by "vaastu pooja" (a fire ritual to please the deities of vaastu mandala, that is earmarking the site in a square dividing it into 64 or 81 parts, putting each part in charge of a deity, and, to obtain their permission to use the site for temple building) and ends with  "Kumbhaabhishekam", the consecration ceremony of the temple.  These rituals are done in accordance with the procedures laid out in Aagama Saastras.  The word aagama generally refers to Vedas.     Aagama sastras ordain performance of a "Punaruddhaarana   " (rejuvenation) Kumbhaabhishekham of every temple once in twelve years.  Sometimes, major repair works have to be carried out to the temple.   Then it is called "Jeernoddhaarana Kumbhaabhishekam" (repair and restoration)                 


Through unintended deficiencies (apachaaraas) while conducting poojas to the installed deities or due to deficiencies in the absolute merits and physical purity of the performing priests or in the improper pronunciation and intonations of reciting the mantras prescribed or a host of other related factors, the installed idol's omnipotence (saannidhya) gets progressively diminished and demand rejuvenation or restoration, even if there is no major repair work.


The Kumbhaabhishekam ceremony consists in the erection of the Baalaalaya (miniature temple or abode), japaas, chanting of Vedas, sanctifying Kalasaas; conducting Homas and Yagnas and others. The finale is the pouring of the sanctified waters from the Kalasas over the stupis (steeple) on the top of the central Vimaana of the sanctum sanctorum, the temple tower (gopuram), Dwajasthamba (flag post), Bali peetha(sacrificial altar), the main deity as well as other deities, either by bathing (Abhisheka) or sprinkling(Samprokshana).


BAALAALAYA—During Jeernoddhaarana, the divine presence in the Murtis must be transformed to the sanctified holy waters in the Kalasaas. The Kalasaas and Utsava murtis(bronze idols taken out in procession) remain in a miniature structure known as Baalaalaya. During the period of restoration, the devotees will not be able to view or do poojas to the Moola vigrahas(stone idols) but the scheduled poojas will be conducted in the Baalaalaya. The divine presence will remain here until it is transferred back to the moola-vigrahas with further fortification of the utsava murtis (processiojnal deities).


Homas ande Yagnas are conducted in the Yaagasaala(place where fire sacrifices are conducted) under the direction of a knowledgeable priest, aachaarya. Five Homakundas are established for the presiding deity signifying five sacred forms of fires. Other deities belonging to the Saiva faith will have one Homakunda. There will be an additional Homakunda for all deities belonging to Vaishnava faith. Main Kalasa is established at the center. Communication between the Kalasaas and deities in the main temple is maintained by silver wires interwoven with twisted holy yellow cotton threads and holy dharba grass cable representing three life-forces Ida, Pingala and Sushma, called naadees. Homas are conducted according to prescribed ritualistic code of practice and attention as per Aagama Saastras.


At the conclusion of the ceremony, the power secured by the performance of the various homas is transferred to the Main Homakunda and then on to the Main Kalasa. The sacred fire is then extinguished. Elaborate poojas are conducted to Kalasas to energize them with all divine powers. The highlight of the pooja is when the sanctified energized water from the kalasa is poured over Vimaana(steeple) and all deities which is followed by the sprinkling of the holy water on the entire temple premises and the devotees by the priests, called Mahaa Samprokshanam. .

Mahaa Deepaaraadhanam, prasaadam distribution and 'Annadaanam' of the blessed food bring down the curtain to the grand rituals of great significance.


Traditionally, Kumbhaabhishekam ceremony is followed by a chain of special poojas for the benefit of mankind as a whole. These are, Kalyaana Utsavams(marriage ceremonies for the deities) and Mandala Poojas for 45 days, to enhance the divine presence in the already consecrated moola vigrahas and Archanaa deities.


An important ritualistic repair work carried out during 'Jeernoddhaara' is 'Ashtabhandana'. This is to carry out repair work at sanctum pedestal of the moola vigrahas, when the idols are firmly fixed to the base with a special glue made from eight natural special ingredients, by an expert Shilpi(sculptor). This work commences with a pooja called 'Ashtabandhana Pooja' and ends with honoring the Shilpi with temple honors.


Kumbhaabhishekam brings all round prosperity not only to any particular group of devotees but also to the society as a whole to eradicate illness, bring benefits of sacrificial homas conducted on behalf of all, for the healthy progeny, welfare of the rulers and prosperity of the land. Temple Poojas invariably end with the prayer "Sarvejanaaha sukhinoh bhavantu" meaning 'May all people live happily'. Sanatana Dharma postulates that the World is one family, ('Vasudeka kutumbakam') and THE ONE that is the Supreme, the wise call by many names and forms, 'Eko vipraha bahuda vadanti'.