Kumkonam: It was a sea of humanity in Kumbakonam town on Monday, as over ten lakh people took a holy dip in the Mahamaham tank and the Cauvery river to mark the ‘theerthavari’ of the Gods, the grand finale of the ten-day festival in Tamil Nadu.
To the chanting of Vedic ‘mantras’ by the ‘Sivacharyas’ and the ‘Bhattacharyas’, accompanied by resounding play of traditional musical instruments including Nadaswaram in the backdrop, the ‘theerthavari’ ritual— bathing the principal deities — both at the ‘Mahamaham tank’ and on the Cauvery bank for the Saivite and Vaishnavite deities, came as the high point of the festival.
The Mahamaham festival, known as the ‘Kumbh Mela of the south’, concluded here on Monday, with conduct of the most important event ‘theerthavari’, witnessed by lakhs of people.
The ‘Mahamaham’ occurs once in 12 years when Guru (Jupiter) is in Simha Rasi (Leo), Sun in Kumbha rasi on a full moon day in the star ‘Maham’ in the Tamil Month of ‘Masi’.
As pilgrims’ taking holy dip at the time of ‘theerthavari’ is considered sacred, people started coming to the tank from midnight last night. There was a steady flow of devotees into the tank, who were regulated by the police using special gates before entering the tank and with ropes and rows inside the tank. The crowd was exceptionally heavy at the time of the ‘theerthavari’ held between 12 noon and 1 pm on Monday.
The elaborate ‘theerthavari’ ritual began when the principal deities of the 12 Saivite temples started arriving one by one to the ‘Mahamaham tank’ since 9 am. They included the beautifully decorated processional idols of Adhikumbeswaraswamy, Kasi Viswanathar, Abhi Mukheswarar, Someswarar, Kalahastheeswarar, Adhi Kambatta Viswanthar, Banapureeswara, Amirtha Kalasanathar, Gowthameswarar, Koteeswarar and Ekambareswarar. They were positioned on the Northern and Western banks of the tank.
“Asthira Devar” — (‘Trishul’ with images of the respective Gods) of each temple were brought and ‘abishekams’ were performed. At the auspicious time priests took the ‘Asthira Devars’ and immersed them in the tank and took bath, signaling the fulfillment of the “Theerthavari”.
Immediately after this, people took holy dip, ecstatically chanting “Siva Siva”, “Adhi Kumbeswara” and “Namasivaya. Devotees sprinkled holy water on them and others.
Mutt heads, Shanmugha Desika Gnanasambanda Swamigal of Dharmkapuram and Ambalavana Desika Swamigal of Thiruvavaduthurai, Muthukumaraswamy Swamigal of Thiruppanandal were present on the occasion. They performed ‘pujas’ and entered the tank after ‘theerthavari’ and sprinkled holy water.
After the ‘theerthavari’, the principal deities of the Saivite temples left for their temples. The Kanchi Sankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswathi came at 5 am and took a holy dip in the tank.
Simultaneously, the principal deities of Vaishnavite temples — Sarangapani, Chakkarapani, Rajagopalaswamy, Ramaswamy and Adhi Varaha Perumal were taken to the Cauvery river for ‘theerthavari’.
Special ‘pujas’ were performed at Chakkarapadithurai on the banks of the Cauvery, even as people in large numbers worshipped the Gods and took a holy dip in the river.
Police regulated the crowd very well using 27 special gates and ropes in the tank. Nearly 20,000 police personnel were on duty. People continued to take holy dip in the afternoon and till late in the evening.
‘Theerthavari’ at Rameswaram temple:
Meanwhile, a report from Rameswaram said that the ‘theerthavari utsav’ was performed at the ancient Lord Shiva temple at ‘Jadamaguda Theertham’, to mark the ‘Mahamaham’ festival there, like the celebrations in Kumbakonam.
The principal Deities of the Sri Ramanathaswamy including Goddess Parvarthini, Ganesha and Muruga, were taken in a procession to the Jadamaguda Theertham’, situated on the way to Dhanushkoti.
Tens of thousands of devotees took part in ‘theerthavari’ there after the ‘Pujas’ were performed to the deities at that sacred spot, also associated with the Ramayana epic, the report said.
Muslim family takes ‘Theerthavari’ dip
Seeing is believing, as the adage goes. Sadique, Ishaq, Mohammed Yunus, Masudha are members of a Muslim family. The foursome from Krishnagiri came to Kumbakonam and took the holy dip at the Mahamaham tank on Monday.
“As we came to know that those who are born in simha rasi should take bath in the tank, we came and took bath,” they said. “We came by train and came to the tank straight by walk and had an immersion in its waters,” they said....