26 July 2017

Friday 21 July, 2017 Pradosham: Arunachaleswarar Temple

Pradosham was observed at Arunachaleswarar Temple on Friday 21 July, 2017. 

Below are photographs of the worship of Ratha Vilaku Nandi in the Second Prakaram

Pradosham worship, 2nd Prakaram

Abhishekam of Ratha Vilaku Nandi, Arunachaleswarar Temple

Nandi the Bull 

Nandi (which means ‘happy and joyous) is the vehicle and gatekeeper of Lord Shiva. He is most commonly depicted as a recumbent bull with folded limbs. His colour is either black or white and he wears a necklace with a bell. Most depictions portray him as Lord Shiva’s vahana. Other depictions of Nandi show him as half human, and half bull. 

According to the Vayu Purana, Nandi was the son of Kashyapa and Surabhi. Other texts point to the origin of Nandi from the desire of sage, Shilada, who wished to have an immortal child for which he performed many austerities. 

Indra, the King of Gods, manifested before the sage to grant his boon, whereupon Shilada replied he sought a strong, immortal child whose greatness would be a legend. Indra informed him that only Lord Shiva, the most powerful god, could grant such a wish. 

Shilada then worshipped Shiva with great devotion. The Lord pleased with his penance appeared before him, granting him the boon. When the sage performed a fire ceremony, the divine child emerged from it. The gods blessed the divine child and all marvelled at his brilliant radiance. Shilada named the child Nandi. 

Shilada took Nandi home and raised him with great care. By the age of 7, Nandi became well versed in all sacred scriptures. One day, the Lords Varuna and Mitra arrived. When they did not appear pleased, Shilada asked for the reason and was told that Nandi would die aged 8 years. 

A grief-stricken Shilada shared the news with Nandi. His son could not bear to see his father's pain and started praying to Lord Shiva. The Lord pleased with his devotion, conferred a necklace with bell to Nandi, transforming him into half man, half bull. He also honoured the young Nandi with immortality, making him the vehicle and head of the Ganas. 

One tale tells that Lord Shiva and the goddess Parvati were playing a game of dice where Nandi was the umpire. Partial to Lord Shiva, he decreed that the deity had won even though the Goddess was the clear winner. 

Infuriated, Parvati inflicted a curse on him. Nandi asked for release from the curse, saying his actions arose from devotion to his Lord. Parvati then said Nandi would be released from the curse if he worshipped her son Lord Ganesha and offered him his favourite items on his birthday. Nandi worshipped Lord Ganesh on Chaturdashi (Bhadrapada month), and offered him green grass as penance. 

Another story relates that during the Sagar Manthan (churning of the ocean), the snake king Vasuki was used as a rope. The poison spewed out of the snake king and to prevent this from harming all life, Lord Shiva drank the poison. Some of it spilled out while Lord Shiva's throat turned blue. To save his master and all life, Nandi drank the spilled venom. To everyone's amazement, Nandi survived the poison and all were amazed at his massive power and the protection of Lord Shiva. 

Nandi is a deity conferred with many powers. He is the protector of Dharma and the chief of the team of Ganas, or attendants of the gods. Nandi is also chief of 18 Siddhas or gifts in Hinduism and is considered the granter of boons. 

Nandi provides the music to which Lord Shiva performs the Tandava or the Cosmic Creation dance. Nandi symbolizes purity as well as justice, faith, wisdom, virility, and honor. 

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