2 May 2018

10th Day of 2018 Vasantha Utsavam Festival at Arunachala: Burning of Manmatha

The below is a pictorial report of the tenth day of the recently concluded 2018 Vasantha Utsavam Festival at Tiruvannamalai.

Day 10: Sunday 29 April, 2018 

Morning: Ayyankulam Tank. Theertavari 
Night: Special puja at Gopala Vinayaka Temple (near Thrishul Hotel) 
Night: Temple Manmatha firing after 11 p.m. 

After the Theertavari ceremony and attendant rituals are complete, the Gods return to Arunachaleswarar Temple. 

It is the full moon of Chitra. Lord Somaskanda dances in front of the giant Sambanda Vinayaka outside the Siva Shrine and the Goddess is taken inside. After his dance, the Lord is then taken by palanquin to the Mandapam where he is attended by devotees.

After sometime, the Lord of Love Kama appears. Kama is represented by a giant effigy, holding a bow and arrow. A string is tied connecting the two deities. Then with the help of the priests a fire cracker is lit by the hand of Lord Somaskanda where it takes off down the string and reaches Kama. Kama explodes into flames and gets burnt up entirely. A display of fireworks then takes place in the Temple courtyard. 

Afterwards Lord Somaskanda is carried back into the Temple and installed in His shrine.Thus Kama is destroyed by the wrath of Shiva in the festival. However, according to legend, Kama is later on resurrected out of the ashes when his consort appeals to Shiva and begs him to restore her husband. 

The death and resurrection of Kama represents the spiritual truth of how after the ego is destroyed, one is reborn as pure eternal Being. The fact that the flames from the third eye of Shiva burn Kama signifies that the third eye of Jnana (knowledge) in one’s heart  must be opened in order for the ego (ignorance) to be destroyed for no darkness can prevail when the light of knowledge shines.

The Gods coming out of Shrine

Effigy of Manmatha

Effigy being prepared with line for the crackers to whizz down

Cracker being prepared at the Palanquin of the Lord

Kamadeva burning up

Will be burnt to a crisp

----- oOo -----

The Story of Kama, the God of Love

Representation from 1890 of Kamadeva firing arrow at the Lord

The Story of Kama The God of Love 

“When Shakti became Parvati, daughter of the king of Himalayas, She was doing tapas for Lord Shiva. At the same time the great sages, the four sons of Brahma, Sanakar, Sanandanar, Santanar, Sanatkumarar came to Lord Shiva for enlightenment. The Lord gave them enlightenment in the form of Lord Dakshinamurti. 

Meanwhile the Devas, who were tortured by Surapadma and his brothers Taraka, Simhamukha, knew that the demons could only be killed only by the son of Lord Shiva and Shakti. Disappointed that both the God and Goddess were doing yoga instead of marrying, they asked Kamadeva to disturb the meditating Lord Shiva with his arrows in order to induce lust for Parvati. “When desperation sets in, reasoning gets pushed down. Can the Supreme be induced with lust by anybody?” 

Kamadeva refused since he knew it would be fatal for him. But the other Devas threatened to curse him if he didn't obey. Saying that it would be better to be killed by the God of gods than by the curses of Devas, he went with his wife, Rati, to the abode of Shiva where He was in meditation. 

Kamadeva shot a flower arrow on the Lord. The next moment the fire from the eye in the forehead of the Lord burnt the God of Love. Undisturbed, the Lord continued His meditation. “Kamadeva was of the reputation that his arrows could never fail. But well, it can apply to others, can it be for the Almighty? His arrows were useless in front of the Lord—and the God of Love became just a heap of ash!” 

Shocked by the death, the Devas realised further plans would not work. They understood that only sincerity can win His grace and nothing else can affect the Lord. They thus surrendered in front of the Lord and pleaded for mercy. The Lord forgave them and Subrahmanya was brought into life for the destruction of the demons. 

On their request the Lord also brought back to life Kama, however with the stipulation that Kama would be visible only to his wife. Because of this Kamadeva is called 'ananga' (one without limbs).” 

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