20 April 2016

Night Eight: Vasantha Urchavam 2016

The deity of this festival is Lord Somaskanda, a form of Shiva and Parvathi, usually found in a shrine on the south-western corner of the main temple of Lord Arunachala. From the first day of the festival up to the ninth, every night around 10 o’clock, the gods are brought outside to the third courtyard of the temple, installed in a special palanquin and there ensues elaborate processions. 

Yesterday evening the 8th day of this Festival, Lord Somaskanda appears in a special Spring costume. The lights of the Temple were switched off and the Gods make a special tour of the 3rd Prakaram using light from torches made of plaited straw shaped into rings. These rings represent the olivu-vattam, "circle of light" i.e. the moon (Soma). 

The Lord under the mandapam

Lord Somaskanda

During this sacred Festival much attention is paid to the Gods under the Makila Trees in the 3rd Prakaram. This is also the time of the year that the Jumbo Keswara Lingam which is set in stone on a raised platform in the midst of the Makila Marams is filled with water. Plants and flowers are placed to float inside the recess of the Lingam. The illusion of the water and flowers makes the Lingam appear to levitate.

The giant lingam set in stone appears to be floating in water

Flaming torches representing Olivu-Vattam

The Gods on Circumambulation

Lord Somaskanda in Spring attire

Large crowd gathered to take darshan of Lord Somaskanda in front of Lord Vinayakar's Shrine

The God illuminated by the Olivu-Vattams

Gods re-enacting their dance in front of mirror

In front of this mirror, located in a gallery adjacent to the Paneer Mandapam, every evening of the Festival the God’s re-enact their dance while accompanied by musicians, singers and devotees.

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