16 January 2015

2015 Arunachaleswarar Thiruvoodal Enactment

The below two photographs are of the enactment of the 2015 Thiruvoodal (petty quarrel) between Lord Shiva and the Goddess which partly takes place on the mada veedhi (perimeter streets) of Arunachaleswarar Temple here at Tiruvannamalai. 

Thiruvoodal is enacted by Shiva and Parvati to convey social truths to their devotees. It takes place; inside the compound of Arunachaleswarar Temple, on the streets delineating the perimeter of the Temple, and on the girivalam pathway itself; by iconic representations of Shiva and Parvati. Thiruvoodal Festival is regarded in such high esteem that one of the perimeter roads has earned the special name Thiruvoodal Street by this convention. 

From the early hours Abishekam is performed at the Temple to start the procession by 5 a.m. At which time an iconic representation of the Lord (and Parvati) is carried by attendants on a palanquin with a huge sunshade. 

The palanquin first visits the Kodi Kampathu Nandi and gives darshan as Viratswarupa and afterwards separates into three parts representing; Brahma, Siva and Vishnu before leaving the compound of Arunachaleswarar. 

After Blessing the Nandhis en route the Holy Couple of Periya Nayakar (Protagonist Of the Universe) and His Consort find their way out through the thitti vaasal - a small entry at the east of the Temple compound, instead of leaving through the main Temple gate known as the Raja Gopuram. 

On blessing the Sun at the thitti vaasal the procession goes around the temple perimeter thrice. During which the actual staging of the Divine Quarrel is re-enacted on the streets; the first time as Brahma, second as Vishnu and the third round as Rudra.

The Gods "quarrelling" on the Tiruvannamalai streets

To support the enactment of the 'tiff' between Shiva and the Goddess, emissaries are employed by both to convey messages between the deities and participate in 'brokering a deal' between the feuding couple. The emissary used by Shiva on his behalf is Sundaramurthi Nayanar – a saint feted as a great devotee of Lord Siva and one of the Tamil Samaya Acharyas (four Tamil religious Teachers). His story is included in the famous book entitled Periapuranam. Saint Sambandhar is the other emissary engaged to help conciliate the Divine couple. 

A Tamil Poem "Thirukkutraala Voodal" narrates how Devi and Swami sing mockingly against each other’s courting. Thiruvalluvar has stressed in his verses the fact that such play between the couple enhances love and affection between spouses especially in making love which is described as the supreme form of "understanding" each other. 

Parvati complains about Shiva in the presence of Saint Sundarar. She talks of her unhappiness about the unkempt ways of Shiva; about his matted hair and having the Goddess Ganga in his disheveled locks, about his naked body smeared with ashes, his reclusive nature and his way of wandering about in cremation yards, His liking for wearing bones and dried skin, the carrying of a skull and his other strange behaviour. The Goddess also complains of Lord Shiva appearing in the minimal clothing of a Kaupina (loincloth) in front of the Rishi’s wives to whom he gives mouna darshan. Parvati also criticises that she is unable to get her Lord to work as he is immersed in meditation most of the time. 

Saint Sundarar is nonplussed and does not know what to do. Shiva, for his part, knowing full well that Parvati is more concerned with 'this and now' while he dwells purely in the eternal, pleads with her to reconcile. Parvati is implacable and stops talking to Shiva. She enters the temple without him. In order to placate her and as night is approaching, Shiva agrees to circumambulate Arunachala. During his circumambulation, he meets Bhringi Rishi and grants him liberation. The Lord loses all his Jewels during his hill round. 

When Lord Shiva completes his pradakshina he returns to Arunachaleswarar Temple early the next morning. He wishes to have reunion with his consort. This part of the Festival is known as Maruvoodal. The point of the Maruvoodal myth is to show the world that even a Celestial Couple has differences between them. But in the end there should only be reunion, even at the cost of a loss in finances which is represented by the loss of the jewels the night previously. 

Returning to his residence, Shiva knocks at the door but it has been bolted by Parvati. Lord Shiva asks, 

‘Oh my darling why have you locked the door?’ 

‘Sir after we came to an understanding still you went without me. And see now look you have lost everything there is no ornament or clothes. Not, only that but you went and gave darshan to all kinds of people. So, I am now requesting you must establish your manliness to me and retrieve everything that is lost and give the special one-legged dance.’ 

Shiva starts the dance, Parvati forgets everything and opens the door. 

To learn about the sagas concerning the Gods which are used to create the scenario of the 'petty quarrel' (Thiruvoodal) that needs resolution go to this link here

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