Monday, March 26, 2012

PANGUNI UTTIRAM



 

PANGUNI UTTIRAM


(I-DISCOURSE BY KAMALA RAGHUNATHAN AND N.R.SRINIVASAN)
April 2011

 
The Hindu festival of Panguni Uttiram is of Tamil origin and falls in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) on the day of asterism Uttiram. It is an important day of celebration for both Vaishnavites and Saivites. The moon is in the asterism "uttiram" (Beta Leonis) on this day from which the festival derives its name. This day is also known as Kalyana Vrata day (wedding vow) in Tamil Nadu, since Goddess Parvathi married Lord Shiva on this day after observing severe penance. There are three famous temples of Devi (Goddess) in India--The Visaalakshi temple in Vaaranaasi (Kasi), The Meenakshi temple in Madurai, and the Kamaakshi temple in Kanchipuram. The wedding ceremony of Lord Sundareswara to Meenakshi and the wedding of Lord Ekaambareswara to Kaamakshi is said to have taken place on this day and therefore this divine wedding is re-enacted with all grandeur and tradition at those temples. This divine wedding grants the power of Kalyana vrata on this day. It is believed that if an unmarried woman takes up this Vrata (vow) with associated vows and penance, and observes it whole-heartedly and sincerely, her wish for a blissful marriage would come true.

 
It is the day on which Lord Rangantha and Ranganayki are seen together and worshiped.
It is also the day on which Lord Sastha (popularly known as Aiyappan) is seen in his durbar. It is his coronation day. Valmeeki narrates this day as the wedding day of Seeta with Rama, Lakshmana with Urmila, Bharata with Maandavi and Satrughna with Srutikeerti.

 


In Kapaaleeswara Temple in Chennai this is the time of annual festival called Brahmotsava which lasts ten days ending with the divine wedding of Parvathi (Karpakaambal), who was punished to become a pea-hen. She was relieved of her curse on this day after she undertook a severe penance and joined Lord Shiva after the divine wedding. This festival is also dedicated to sixty three Naayanmaars, the faithful devotees of Shiva, and to those who spent all their lives in the glorification of the Lord.

 
This festival is also celebrated in Srirangam temple by all Vaishnavites. Sri Ramaanuja delivered himself at the feet of Lord Ranganatha and Sri Ranga Naachiyar on this day and pleaded eloquently for his acceptance eternally, in the Lord's service, despite his short-comings. That was the occasion of his creation of "Gadyatrayam--Saranaagati Gadyam", Sriranga Gadyam, and Vaikunta Gadyam". It took place in the divine setting on this important day. Raamanuja emphasized Bhakti (devotion) as the surest means for salvation. Even today, close to midnight, thousands of devotees recite Gadyatrayam in the presence of Lord Azhagiamanavaala and Goddess Ranganayaki in Durbar in the Kalyana Mantapam (Wedding-hall), at Sri Rangam temple on Panguni Uttiram day.

 
In Tiru-Narayanapuram in Karnaataka (Melkottai) a special car festival takes place in dedication to Selva Narayana (beloved Narayana). Panguni Uttiram is also the Birth day of Goddess Perundevi (Lakshmi), consort of Lord Varadaraja in Kanchipuram. She is worshiped as
Perundevi, one who is the embodiment of greatness (perumaikku uriyaval).
Lakshmi also means one who needs to be focused coming from the root in Sanskrit Lakshya.

 

There are several legends about the origin of Panguni Uttiram. Sundaresha or Shiva married Goddess Meenakshi at Madurai. At the Ekaam(ba)reswara temple in Kanchipuram, the locals believe, Parvathi to test her own power, forced Shiva's eye's to close, and the whole world was plunged into darkness. She was consequently punished. She lost her status and privileges. In repentance Parvathi performed penance, and regained her status, on this day under the mango tree after which the temple is named "Eka" meaning one and "amra" means mango. The name "ekamra" meaning "one mango" refers to the mango tree in the temple Ekamreswara that is said to produce only one mango at a time which is a strange phenomenon. Generally mango tree yields plenty of mangoes each time during mango season.



 

King Raghu undertook Kalyana vrata at the urging of Sage Naarada on this day. According to the legend, this enabled him to destroy the Raakshasa (demon) Dundha who was devastating his kingdom.