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Worshipping the sun

R. MADHAVAN NAIR

The Athirathram will be held near Wadakkencherry.

Last week at Sukapuram, near Edapal, Thaikkad Vaidikan Neelakantan Namboodiri began what is the first in a series of ceremonies he and his team of Vedic experts would perform during their run-up to the sacred `Athirathram' that is slated to be held in a village near Wadakkencherry off the Thrissur-Palakad National Highway.

Athirathram has been a rare ceremony in recent years. In 1975, Cherumukku Vaidikan Neelakantan Akkithiripad conducted one at Paanjaaal with the generous support of Frits Staal of Berkeley University.

The last one was in 1990. Puthillam Ravi Akkithirippad was the master of ceremonies in that Athirathram that was held at Kundoor.

The Vaidikan (master of ceremonies) for the 12-day Athirathram that is to be held from March 29-2006 is Thaikkad Vaidikan Neelakantan Namboodiri and the `yajamanan' (who would perform the rite) would be Kaavapra Maarath Sankaranarayanan Somayajippad. Seventeen rithwiks (expert Vedic priests) would be assisting the `yajamanan.' Ancient texts on yagam say that any offering made to `fire,' treating it as a God, is actually an offering made to the sun. Any such offering is either to enrich energy in the environment or to destroy the undesirable elements in the environment.

Last week, Vaidikan Neelakantan Namboodiri, took a customary pledgethat he would perform the Athirathram. The pledge-taking ceremony was a 15-minute simple function.

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