Friday, January 14, 2011

Guruvayur Ekadasi: most auspicious and special ritual day in Kerala, related to Lord Krishna

Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in a year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Sukla paksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur. It falls in the Mandala season (last year, it was on 17 November, 2010). The Navami (9th day) and Dasami (10th day) are also very important. Ekadasi Vilakku starts a month before the Ekadasi day as offering by different persons, families and organisations. On Navami day, the Vilakku is lit with ghee as an offering by Kolady family.

Dasami Vilakku which used to be an offering of Zamorin Raja, is now conducted by Guruvayurappan Sankeerthana Trust. After the temple is open on this day for Nirmalya darshan ( 3.00AM ), it is closed only at 9.00 am on Dwadasi Day (12th day), thus allowing continuous darshan for devotees throughout Dasami and Ekadasi Days. On Dwadasi day there is a custom of offering a token amount called Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam for the welfare of the family. Highlights of the Guruvayur Ekadasi are the memorial honour for Gajarajan Kesavan and the Chembai Sangeetholsavam. The Karanavar or head of the elephant family places a wreath at the statue of Kesavan in front of Sreevalsam guest house and all the other elephants stand around and pay obeisance. On Ekadasi day, the Udayasthamana Pooja (dawn to dusk pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom itself . After the morning seeveli, on Ekadasi there is a grant elephant procession to the Parthasarathi temple since it is regarded as Geethopadesam Day also. On Ekadasi after night pooja the famous Ekadasi Vilakku with elephant procession takes place and provides a fitting finale to the festival.

The Guruvayur temple is an important place of worship for the Hindus. Every day, thousands of devotees flock to this ancient temple seeking blessings of Lord Krishna, the presiding deity. Ekadasi, the eleventh day of a lunar fortnight, is of importance to the temple. Of the twenty-four Ekadasis a year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi is considered most auspicious and special rituals and celebrations are held at the temple. A special remembrance event is also held on the day to commemorate Guruvayur Kesavan, a gentle and friendly elephant, which was in the temple service for quite a long period. Majestic physical features, including 3.2m height, and noble behaviour had elevated Kesavan to the status of a legend in his lifetime itself. In the remembrance function, around forty elephants groomed by the temple are lined up before a life-size statue of Kesavan to pay tribute to their great predecessor.

Guruvayur Ekadasi
or Guruvayoor Ekadasi, observed on the Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) Ekadasi during the Malayalam month of Vrischikam (mid November - mid December), is unique to the Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayur, Kerala. Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight. Though there are 24 Ekadasis in a year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi which falls during the Sabarimala Mandala Kalam (Sabrimala Temple Pilgrimage Season) assumes special importance in Guruvayur Temple. However, the Navami (9th day) and Dasami (10th day) are also significant.

The Ceremony:

A month before the Ekadasi day, a ritual called Ekadasi Vilakku (lamp) is held which is an important one. This is held as an offering by various persons, families and organizations. Ekadashi Vilakku is lit on the Navami and Dasami days. The temple is opened on the Dasami day (the day before Ekadasi) for Nirmalya Darshan (the deity wears the flowers of the previous night) at 3:00 am and is closed only at 9:00 am on Dwadasi, that is, on the 12th day. Accordingly, the devotees can worship throughout the Dasami and Ekadasi days. There is a custom of offering a token of amount called Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam on the Dwadasi day. On this auspicious day is the honoring of the elephant, Gajarajan Kesavan. Kesavan was Kerala's biggest and grandest elephant who served the Lord and people for about 54 years. He had died on the Guruvayur Ekadashi day. As such, a 12 feet high statue has been erected in front of Sreevalsam rest house. On this day, the leader of the elephants places a garland at the statue of Guruvayur Kesavan and all the elephants pay obeisance to it. It is believed that it on this Ekadasi day that Lord Krishna preached the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Hence this day is observed as Gita Dinam at the temple. Commemorating this, a grand elephant procession is held to the nearby Parthasarathy Temple. Also on Guruvayoor Ekadasi, the Udayasthamana Pooja (dawn to dusk pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom (a board which administers the temple). src:Hindu Devotional Blog/wikipedia
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