2 May 2018

10th Day of 2018 Vasantha Utsavam Festival at Arunachala: Chitragupta and Girivalam

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.

Chitragupta and Arunachala Girivalam


Lord Chitragupta Guardian of the Akashic Records

Chitragupta is a Hindu god assigned with the task of keeping complete records of the actions of sentient beings on earth. Upon death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding whether to award heaven or hell, depending on their actions while on the earth. 

Lord Brahma had many sons and daughters in various myth structures—a popular version of the birth of Chitragupta goes like this.

It is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to Lord Yama. Yama would sometimes become confused and when dead souls came to him, would occasionally send the soul to the wrong destination. Lord Brahma commanded him to keep better track of everyone, but Yama complained that he could not be expected to keep track of all of the eighty-four hundred thousand different life forms on Earth.

Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before Him with a pen and paper. Chitragupta is sometimes referred to as the first man to use letters, and is hailed that way in the Garuda Purana. 

He is known as being meticulous, and with his pen and paper he tracks every action of every sentient life-form, building up a record over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. These perfect and complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the “Akashic Records”—and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, can be said to contain every action taken in the Universe.

Erasing Karmic Records

The first full Moon of the Vedic New Year (Tamil month Chitra), is known as Chitra Purnima—which is believed to be the most auspicious day for erasing old karma and to make anew. Chitra Purnima is celebrated when the Sun is exalted in the sign Aries and the Moon is in the bright star named Chitra in the constellation of Libra. 

The Full Moon of Chitra Purnima is the perfect day to appease Chitragupta.  It is believed that invoking Chitragupta’s blessings and feeding the poor and needy on this day can help erase the negative karma in one’s Akashic records. 

The eternal record book of our good and bad actions called ‘Akashic Records’ are hidden karmic seeds that compel us to be who we are. By appeasing Chitragupta on Chitra Purnima, we can change ourselves and erase karmic mistakes we have committed in this life and past lives. 

There is a mention about Chitra Pournami in ‘Padma Puranam’ that those who offer prayers to Lord Chitragupta on his birthday will get the benefit of lessening the impact of their past sins.

Chitragupta Puja

It is believed that participating in Chitragupta homa on Chitra Purnima, the birthday of Chitragupta, can bring the positive blessings of the Akashic record-keeper to erase ‘bad’ karma.

This puja is performed to Chitragupta in reverence of the four virtues he is seen to embody: justice, peace, literacy, and knowledge. Part of the Chitragupta puja also includes writing down how much money you make in your household, and how much you need to make to survive in the following year, while making offerings of turmeric, flowers, and vermilion.Items associated with Chitragupta in his puja include the paper and pen, ink, honey, betel nut, matches, mustard, sugar, sandalwood, and frankincense.

Chitra Pournami Arunachala Girivalam

After Karthigai Deepam Festival, Chitra Pournami is the most heavily attended girivalam of the year at Arunachala.

This Pournami always coincides with the tenth day of the Vasantha Utsavam Festival and goes on while other functions occur: at Ayyankulam Tank, Special puja at Gopala Vinayaka Temple (near Thrishul Hotel) and the Burning of Kamadeva inside the Arunachaleswarar Temple compound. It has been reported that 15 Lakhs devotees (1.5 million) were involved in the various celebratory functions associated with this Festival on the tenth and final day of Pournami.

Chitra Pournami is dedicated to Chitragupta, the Keeper of Deeds in the house of Yama, (God of death) and to Indra, the leader of the Devas. Lord Brahma created Chitragupta through the Sun God and He is considered as the younger brother of Lord Yama. Chitragupta (Chitra=picture, Gupta=hidden) represents the hidden picture of life that is vital, yet unknown. 

Chitragupta keeps a register of every birth (good or bad) and according to ancestral belief, it is he who tallies one’s positive karma against one’s negative karma and declares the result to the Judge on High. It is believed to be the right time to gain blessings to wash away sin and accrue virtue. 

Small number of devotees performing an early girivalam

As the day progresses, crowd will become bigger and bigger

And by evening the town will be almost impassable (night photograph from a previous Chitrapournami)

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