The Lord aloft a glittering mount
A highlight of the just concluded Brahmotsavam at the Parthasarathiswami temple in Thiruvallikkeni was the procession of the Lord on the new golden Garuda mount. T. A. SRINIVASAN writes.
The majestic gopuram of Sri Parthasarathi Temple, Thiruvallikeni.
NO FESTIVAL in Vaishnavite temples is complete without Lord Narayana and His consorts being taken in a procession on the exclusive mount, Garuda, Veda-incarnate. Garuda stands before the Lord with folded hands, waiting for instructions from Him. He is also known as Vainadeya as he is the son of Vinathai. Vaishnavite preceptors hail him as ``Periya Thiruvadi'' or bigger mount of the Lord while Hanuman is known as ``Siriya Thiruvadi'' or the smaller mount.
It was Garuda who directed the preceptor, Sri Vedanta Desika, to meditate on Lord Hayagriva after imparting the saint the ``Hayagreeva Mantram'' at Thiruvahindrapuram (near Cuddalore). Earlier the saint composed two works Garuda Panchasat or 50 verses on Garuda and Garuda Dandaka or the hymn on Lord's mount. After reciting the Hayagreeva Mantra the saint had a darshan of the Lord who gave him a mouthful of nectar and blessed him with deep knowledge and the ability to write many works and deliver discourses to redeem the people. All big temples have the Garuda Vahanam made of gold and the Parthasarathiswami temple at Thiruvallikkeni in Chennai boasts of not one, but two golden Garuda Vahanams as there are five shrines for the Lord. The smaller one is used as the mount of Lord Ranganatha (who is known as Mannatha as Goddess Vedavalli Thayar who was brought up by Sage Bhrigu called Him as Her Husband-Mama Natha).
The bigger Garuda Vahanam is taken out on seven occasions as the mount for Lord Parthasarathi, ``Thelliya Singar'' or Narasimhar Gajendra Varadar and Ramar. Each one of the deities here has been sanctified by the hymns of Thirumangai Azhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar and Peyazhwar. In no other temple, can one find so many major festivals being celebrated as here.
For Vaishnavites three holy places in the earth are most important - Koil (Srirangam), Thirumalai (Tirupati) and Perumal Koil (Kancheepuram) and the Lords of all these three places are enshrined here Lord Ranganatha as Mannatha, Lord Srinivasan as Venkatakrishnan (Moolavar image of Parthasarathi) and Varadaraja as Gajendra Varadar. Besides there are shrines for Rama and Narasimha.
Brahmotsavam, main festival, has just concluded Garudotsavam, an important part took place on the third day. Thousands of devotees lined up around the temple and offered their obeisance to Garuda when the mount was taken in a trial procession on April 25. It is in the fitness of things that the Garuda mount of Lord Parthasarathi, who gave the sermon on the battlefield to awaken not only Arjuna but many people from their deep slumber, has been refurbished.
The old Garuda vahanam, said to have been made many decades earlier, was in a poor state. The gold content in the old vahanam, however, was found to be intact.
The deity aloft the Garuda vahanam. Pics. by K. V. Srinivasan.
A new wooden Garuda vahanam was made at a cost of Rs.1.5 lakhs, thanks to the donation from Mr. K. Parasaran, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court. He also met the labour cost of Rs. 1 lakh for removing the gold lined copper plate on the old vahanam and fitting it on the new one. The temple provided one kg of gold for coating the copper plate and the remaining quantity of 275 gm came from as many as 19 donors each contributing his mite, from one gm to 10 gm, according to Mr. A. Kuppuswamy, Assistant Commissioner/Executive officer of the temple.
The work of gold coating of the copper plate was entrusted to the Government firm, Poompuhar, who pressed into service its own contractors. The most interesting fact is that a Muslim worker from Madurai, Rahman, and his colleagues were engaged in the gold plating work for more than a month. Rahman's forefathers were engaged in making the vahanams and cars (Rathas) for many south Indian temples.
The temple's gigantic car is also being renovated at a cost of Rs. 25 lakhs by Poompuhar. The entire cost is to be met with donations from the public. A shed for the car costing Rs.4 lakhs is also being erected with donations from Shriram Chits. Donations are exempt under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
The doors to the entrance of the sanctum-sanctorum are to be silver plated and for this the Devasthanam has obtained Rs.10 lakhs donation from the Administrator General and Official Trustee of Tamil Nadu High Court (AGOC). The work is being done by Kannan Sthapathi.
A new kitchen for preparing meals for the Annadanam scheme is being constructed with donation from Mr. Nedunchezhiyan, chartered accountant.
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