Ram Navami in Durban

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE CELESTIAL WEDDINGS

The Hindu religion is unique in its tradition of celebrating divine weddings. Why do we celebrate celestial weddings?

This is a very pertinent question. We do so for the love of God; it serves as a reminder to us of the eternal message of love and the union of the soul (jeevatma) with the divine (paramatma).

Of all the divine weddings, the most celebrated one is Shri Seetha-Rama kalyanam — the celestial wedding of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with Seetha Devi-an incarnation of Goddess Mahalakshmi.

Ram Naumi

Although, this wedding took place ages ago, it is remembered fondly even today and songs (for example, Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame) extolling this wedding are sung even to this day and age during Hindu wedding ceremonies.

The tradition of celebration of Shri Seetha-Rama Kalyanam was started by Shri Bhadrachala Ramadas at the Bhadrachalam Shri Rama temple.

It was in this spirit that Sri Meenakshi Temple Society conducted the Shri Seetha-Rama Kalyanam on Saturday, March 27, 2010.

The event began with the traditional seeru varisai- a procession of fruits, flowers, sweets, new clothes, and gifts for the groom from the Ganesha temple.

It was led by the son-father duo of Shyam Murali and Bala Murali from Dallas on the Saxophone and Thavil (an Indian percussion instrument) respectively. Shyam, a student at Vanderbilt University, received his initial training in carnatic music from Late. Indu Krishnamurthy — a longtime resident of Houston and he did his teacher proud with his good choice of songs with the right tempo and was ably supported by his father. Once the procession reached the Kalyana Mandapam complex, it was eagerly received and the events commenced there with a Vishwaksena Pooja to ward off all obstacles to this ritualistic event and Punyaha-vachanam to purify the ritual space.

At this time, a group of kids comprising of students of Rajeshwari Bhat led by their teacher along with the students of the MTS Vedic Heritage class led by the their assembly teacher, Vyjayanthi Vivek, were on stage to recite the Nama Ramayanam-a compilation of the entire story of the Shrimad Ramayana in 108 names brilliantly authored by Pandit Lakshmanachar.

This is set to mellifluous music and was popularized by Late M.S. Subbulakshmi- the great carnatic singer.

The kids did full justice to this musical with their soulful and enthusiastic singing and stole the hearts of all the assembled devotees who joined them.

The teachers need to be complimented for such good training and hopefully, we can look forward to many more participation by the kids.

The priests then did the Choornikai/Pravaram, a recitation of the lineages for the three generations of both the groom and the bride.

They then moved to tie the Raksha Sutram – a wristband of sorts that attests to the resolve of the sponsoring devotees to perform the holy wedding.

This was followed by the ritual of Kanyadaanam.

According to the priest Shri Narayanacharyalu, the tradition of giving one’s daughter in marriage (Kanyadaanam) is one that confers great merits, and if one is performing the celestial wedding, the merits cannot be even described.

At this time, a group of singers led by Anuradha Subramaniam and accompanied by Mahesh Iyer on the violin were on stage to render the traditional Utsava Sampradaya krithis- a set of devotional compositions composed by Saint Tyagaraja.

This classical rendition suffused the atmosphere with devotional music and enhanced the ambience of the event.

The high point was the mangalya dharanam- the tying of the holy thread by Shri Rama to Seetha Devi.

The priests then followed it up with the homam- holy fire ceremony, akstharaponam- sprinkling of holy rice, and mangalaharathi.

The deities were then taken around the MTS temple complex in the silver chariot- ratham pulled by eager devotes to the cries of Jai Shri Ram- Victory to Lord Rama.

As always, the celestial wedding concluded with a sumptuous repast of Kalyana Sapadu- wedding feast, planned by the MTS Food committee led by Malar Narayanan, complete with various dishes and desserts prepared and served by MTS staff and volunteers.

Repetition of the name of Shri Rama itself puts one on the path to salvation.

Here, we had the fortune of seeing Lord Rama as a groom and going around in the chariot as Rajarama- the emperor of hearts on the Ratham and finally, partaking of his wedding feast. I am counting my blessings as are others I am sure.

The MTS Pooja Committee, especially Bala Chavali and Ranjana Narasiman and the priests Doraiswamy Bhattar, Narayanacharyalu, and Santhana Bhattar, staff members Jagdish, Ponnraj, Palani and Kumaravel deserve our gratitude for planning and organizing this event with the support of the board, the administrators and the volunteers. These events really enrich our lives and nourish our souls.

PROCESS TO PERFORM SREE SEETARAMA KALYANOSTAVAM ON SREE RAMANAVAMI DAY AT OUR HOMES.

Can you please enlighten us on the process to perform Sree SeetaRama Kalyanostavam on Sree RamaNavami Day at our homes. Is it enough to read Seeta kalyana sarga from Srimadramayanam? Or is there a similar process as that of Sree Goda Ranganayaka Kalyanam (part of Dhanurmasotsvam) published under with divine blessings.

Jai Sriman Narayana!

Happy to know about Sitaramakalyana Mahotsavam in your home.
1.Perform Vishwaksena Puja
2.Conduct Punyaha Va:chanam
3.Arrange a place for Kalyanam. Take Sri Rama & Sita to that mandapam.
4.Provide Asanam to Lord RAma.
5.Offer Madhu Parkam, ie mixture of Yogurt & Honey.
6.Decorate Him with a New Yajno:pavi:tham.
7.Conduct mangala ashtakam chanting.
8.According to the local tradition, any other offerings like Gudam Jeerakam mixture may be offered.
9.Perform PUja to Mangalasutram and offer to Sita after touching to Rama’s hand.
10.Akshatas may be sanctified and offered to both by each one’s hand. She offers Him and He offers to her.
11.Brahma Grandhi bandhanam and Vedic asi:rwa:dam.
12.Chant Va:rana Ma:yiram and give Ha:rathi.
13.Distribute Prasadam etc., to the devotees.

There are the main activities. You may chant manthras to each of these activities at length.

 

On Chaitra Sukla Navami (the ninth day of the bright half of Chaitra masam) ‘Sri Ramanavami’ is celebrated. Sri Rama was born on this day and years later on the same day Rama married Sita. This year (2013) it will be corresponding to Gregorian calendar month April day 19th ,Friday.

Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam is performed in a grand scale at Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh,India , every year on Sri Rama Navami day, millions of people turn up to witness the Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam at Bhadrachalam, and also take a dip in the sacred river Godavari. Performing Sitha Rama kalyanam on Rama Navami day is special tradition followed in AndhraPradesh.It is at this templer site that, long after Ramavatara, Sri Mahavishnu manifested Himself as Rama again to fulfil a promise He made to His Bhakta Bhadra, who continued his Tapas through Yugas, praying for the grace of the Bhagawan Sri Ramachandra murthy.Then Sri Mahavishnu manifested himself as Vykuntha Rama and rushed to his devotee Bhadra , signaling his arrival by blowing ‘Shanku’,accompanied by his consort Sita and brother Laxmana , resembling that of ‘Gajendra Moksham ‘ – Thus , the moorthies of Rama ( having four hands ) – Shanku on the right , Chakra at his left and Dhanurbhana ( Bow and Arrow in the rest two hands ) , Sita had condescended on the left lap of Rama and brother ( at Rama’s left ) are existed . And the hill place where the Deities were seated on , was the head place of Bhadra – achalam ( hill ) ,thus this shrine was transformed into Bhadrachalam .

Bhadrachalarama temple was constructed by Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in the year 1674 A.D.He was a tahasildar(Village Revenue officer) in that area,which was under the control of a muslim ruler called Tanisha.Bhakta Ramadasa utilised the money he collected as taxes,to construct the temple.Tanisha was unhappy with this and dismissed him from service for mis-utilisation of revenue for constructing the temple and was kept in jail for 12 long years in Golkonda Fort and was tortured. Unable to withstand the miseries, Ramadas implored Rama to relieve him by singing many praising and emotional songs which got popularized from the stanzas of ‘Dasaradhi Sathakam’ and ‘Keertanas’ of Bhakta Ramadasa.One night two strange persons paid money (gold coins) to Tanisha,telling them they are servants of Bhakta Ramadasa,and to release him from prison. Thanisha gave voucher to these divine looking persons who approached him at his house during late night. Then they kept the voucher under the pillow of Gopanna where he was jailed. Tanishah who woke up on the very next day morning realised that those divine looking persons were none other than Rama and Laxmana and made arrangements to get release of Gopanna and prayed to forgive him by placing all the Gold Mohurs received last night at the feet of Gopanna. But, he refused to take back those mohurs except two as a mark of divine significance. (Those two can still be seen kept in Bhadrachala Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy vaari Devasthanam).Ramadas spent the rest of his life in Bhadrachalam composed further devotional songs.All his compositions are in Telugu , like Tyagaraja kirtanas.

You can hear some of them at this website:
(http://www.bhadrachalarama.org/ramadasukeerthnaas.html) By celebrating the birthday of Sri Rama, we are honouring protector of dharma,we are honouring good family values ,we are honouring a great God who descended on earth as a human being and did all sacrifices for the welfare of mankind.

Among all the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu the incarnation of Lord Rama is considered as the best of all. When asked by sage Narada Lord Vishnu says that He enjoyed the incarnation of Rama than all the other incarnations. This is because in this incarnation Lord experienced the joy, love, compassion, pain and suffering just like human beings. The purpose of this incarnation was not only to kill the demon Ravana but mainly to demonstrate the qualities of a good son, brother, husband, son-in-law, king, father, and a friend. There is a powerful message in every verse of the Ramayana, and those who understand the secrets and apply them in their life, they will be walking in the footsteps of Lord Rama, and leading a blissful life.

SRI RAAMA NAVAMI

Lord Sri Rama was the seventh Avathara of Sri Maha Vishnu in the list of Dasa Avatharas. It is said that Rama Avathara had occurred during Thretha Yuga in the 24th Maha Yuga of the current Vaivasvatha Manvanthara. He was born in Surya Vamsa, in the lineage of Ikshvaku, Raghu, and Bhagiratha. Sun God is said to be the Paramatma amsa of Lord Sri Rama. Lord Sri Rama is said to be a Paripoorna Manushya Avathara of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu.

He was the eldest son of King Dasaratha and his first wife Kausalya. He had two step mothers Kaikeyi, and Sumithra. Sri Rama had three brothers Bharatha, Lakshmana and Sathrughna. Goddess Sita Devi was his consort. He had two sons Lava and Kusa who were bought up in Valmiki Ashram. It is said that Lord Sri Rama ruled this world for 11000 years.

As per Hindu lunar calendar Sri Rama was born on the ninth day (Navami), of sukla paksha in Chaitra Masa. Astrologically he was born under the constellation of Punarvasu, 4th charana in Karkataka Raasi (Cancer Sign) and Karkataka Lagna. At the time of His birth five planets, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn were said to be in exalted position.
WHAT IS SRI RAMA NAVAMI?
Sri Rama Navami is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Sri Rama that is celebrated across the country irrespective of the caste and creed. It is generally celebrated as the birth day of Lord Sri Rama coinciding with the ninth day (Navami thithi) of Chaitra Masa Sukla Paksha as per Hindu Lunar calendar.

What is to be done on this day?

Lord Sri Rama is worshipped on this day along with his consort Goddess Seetha Devi, Lakshmana and Lord Hanuman, and His parents Dasaratha and Kausalya. Arghya to be given to Lord Sri Rama with the following slokas…

Kausalyagharbhasambhootha sadhaa Soumithri Vatsala
Jaanakisahitho Rama Gruhanarghyam Namosthuthe

Kousalyaanandano Veera Ravanasuramardhana
Seethapathe Namasthubhyam Gruhanarghyam Namosthuthe

Recite slokas, sthothras related to Lord Sri Rama, like Rama Raksha Sthothra; bhajans are conducted praising Lord Sri Rama. Sun (Surya) is also worshipped on this day as He is the Paramatma Amsa of Sri Rama Avathara and Lord Rama was born in Surya Vamsa. People visit Sri Rama temple in the evening and offer prayers.

At some places they also perform Sita Rama Kalyanam (marriage of Lord Sri Rama and Goddess Sita) assuming that it was on this day Lord Sri Rama married Goddess Sita Devi. One such place where Sita Rama Kalyanam is performed on a grand scale on this day is at Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh on the banks of river Godavari. Govt. of Andhra Pradesh makes elaborate arrangements on this occasion and lakhs of people participate in this function.

It is also a tradition in some areas where people offer sweet drink (water mixed with jaggery, cardamom, pepper and lemon juice) called Paanakam and Moong Dal (soaked) called Kosambari as Naivedya to Lord Sri Rama and distribute the same to the devotees at temples.

The festival is celebrated on a grand scale at places like Ayodhya (birth place of Lord Sri Rama), Bhadrachalam (A.P) and in all the Sri Rama Temples across the country. Vasantha Navarathri festival ends with Sri Rama Navami.

Some of the places in India connected to Lord Sri Rama are Ayodhya, Kasi, Gaya, Prayaga, Naimisharanya, Nasik, Bhadrachalam, Hampi, Srisailam, and Rameswaram. In Andhra Pradesh we have apart from Bhadrachalam, temples exclusively dedicated to Lord Sri Rama at Tirupathi and Vayalpad (Near Tirupathi). Perhaps in India you do not find a place without a temple for Lord Sri Rama or Hanuman where Sri Rama is also worshipped.

Brief about Bhadrachalam Temple

As per the legend Sri Maha Vishnu in order to fulfill the promise given to his devotee Bhadra (son of Meru Parvatha) in his avatara as Sri Rama (which he forgot to fulfill during his avatara) came from Vaikunta and gave darshan in the form of Lord Sri Rama along with his consort Goddess Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana at this place on the Bhadradri hills and got manifested there at the request of his devotee Bhadra. Thenceforth the place came to be known in the name of Bhadra as Bhadrachala.

Rarity of the temple is that the Lord in his hurry to fulfill the promise given to his devotee came to give darshan carrying his disc Sudarshana Chakra and his Kounch in apasavya position. Usually we find Lord Maha Vishnu carrying his Sudarshana Chakra in the right hand and his Kounch in the left hand. But here he is seen holding them in a reverse way.

Usually we find Lord Sri Rama depicted with only two hands like any other human being with bow and arrow. But here he is seen with Chaturbhuja (four hands) holding disc and kounch in his upper arms and bow and arrow in his lower arms with his lower right hand in abhaya mudra. That is why he is called as Vaikunta Rama or Rama Narayana where the Lord Sri Rama is in his original form (Lord Vishnu)

There is also another popular legend attached to this temple. During 17th century Bhakta Rama Das (Kancharla Gopanna) a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama constructed the temple at Bhadrachalam and arranged for ornaments to the Lord. He was working as a Tahsildar under the rulership of Abdul Hassan Thaaneesha, the Nawab of Golkonda under Nizam dynasty. In the process he had arranged funds from the coffers of Thaaneesha due to which he had to undergo imprisonment and was kept in Golkonda jail by the Nawab. One can see even today the evidences of his imprisonment in Golkonda fort at Hyderabad and the life spent by Bhakta Ramadas in jail.

Being a staunch devotee of Lord Sri Rama, the money spent by Rama Das was returned to the Nawab by the Lord Sri Rama along with his brother Lakshmana in disguise amounting to six lakh golden mohars having the symbol of Rama Pattabhishekam and took a receipt for it from Thaaneesha. The legend goes on to say that the Lord always came to the rescue of his sincere devotees though initially they might suffer due to their Prarabdha.

The temple is located at Bhadrachalam in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh about 300 km from Hyderabad on the banks of sacred river Godavari called Goutami Ganga (Deccan Ganges). It is one of the main pilgrim centers of Andhra Pradesh well connected by Road from Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Warangal, Karimnagar and other main cities of Andhra Pradesh. By rail it is on the Madras – Delhi main line, one has to get down at Khammam or Kothagudem and catch a bus to Bhadrachalam.

Sri Rama Navami festival is conducted at this temple in a grand manner where Sita Rama Kalyanam is performed on this day attended by lakhs of people from all over the country especially from Andhra Pradesh.


About Naufal Khan

Publisher & editor of Indian Spice.

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