The important festivals are as follows:
The Primary Festival unique to our Gramam, the Annual Utsavam is celebrated for seven days in the month of April / May.
The Utsavam begins with Dwajarohanam, the hoisting of the Sacred Flag or the Dwaja on the Dwajasthambam. This takes place on the day on which the Star of Poosam falls after the Pournami or the New Moon occurring in the Tamil month of Chithirai (Medam in Malayalam).
On the previous evening, Vasthusanthi is performed to ward off all the evils. Across the course of the Utsavam, utmost importance is given for Veda Parayanam by learned pundits. Abhishekams and Special Poojas also take place during this period. On the first six nights, the Utsavamoorthy is taken out for procession in a Decorated Ratham (Car) specially built for the purpose within the Agraharam. This procession is accompanied by Nadaswaram and Veda Parayanam.
On the seventh day, which usually would be the day of the Chithirai Star, the main Utsavam is celebrated. On this day at around 5:30 am, the Prathyakshaya Mahaganapathy Homam is performed and after completion of the same, Rudhrabhishekam and Poomodal for the Presiding Deity takes place.
At around 9:00 am, the Utsava Moorthi is taken out for procession on Caparisoned Elephants through the entire Agraharam. This is when the devotees offer Paddy, Rice, Jaggery, Plantain, Malar, Sugar, Avil and Coins for the Lord in containers, and this is known as “Nirapara”. The procession is accompanied by Chanda Melam and it is usually over by 12 noon. Thereafter, the Maha Dheeparadhana takes place and Annandhanam will be served in our Padasala.
The second session starts at 2 pm with the Kelikottu at the Temple Premises, and thereafter the Panchavadhyam commences at 2:45 pm. After the artistes playing the five instruments for about an hour inside the Temple, the grand procession of the Utsava Moorthi on Caparisoned Elephants starts along with the Panchavadhyam.
When the procession reaches the Eastern Side of the Agraharam, the Panchavadhyam comes to an end and Pandimelam played with Chenda commences. The procession returns to the Temple at around 7 pm and the Maha Dheeparadhana takes place. During this divine hour, the full temple is decorated with Dheepams and Niramala which is worth watching. Thereafter, there will be a beautiful display of Fireworks.
During the night session which begins at around 10 pm, there will be a brilliant display of the Chenda Instrument called “Thayambaka” by experts in this line. On completion of this programme at about 2 am, the procession again starts with Kelikottu at the Temple Premises and thereafter just as in the evening, the Panchavadhyam commences at 2.45 am.
After the artistes playing the five instruments for about an hour inside the Temple, the another grand procession of the Utsava Moorthi on Caparisoned Elephants starts along with the Panchavadhyam. When the procession reaches the Eastern Side of the Agraharam, the Panchavadhyam comes to an end and Panchari Melam commences and this goes on till dawn before termination in front of the Temple. Thereafter food for the Elephants is served.
Later, at about 9 am on that day (8th day), the Manjaneer Arattu takes place with One Elephant. Here, the Utsava Moorthi is taken out for procession in the Agraharam on an elephant and thereafter to the Pallasamkolam (Tank) for a holy bath. After the prescribed rituals are performed, the villagers also take bath in the tank as a sacrifice. After returning to the Temple, the Dwajarohanam (bringing down the Sacred Flag) takes place and the Maha Dheeparadhana is performed to the Deity, and with this the Annual Utsavam Celebrations come to a close.
On a suitable day (Wednesday or Saturday) within the Utsavam period, “Sasthapreethi” is celebrated to please Lord Dharma Sastha. Special Poojas are performed and Devotional Songs in praise of the Lord are presented and a sumptuous feast is served to all the residents of the Agraharam as well as those from the neighbouring areas.
Also during the Utsavam Celebrations, on the day before the Main Utsavam Day, the “Mahaganapathy Lakshachanai” is performed and Prasadams are distributed.
The Birthday of our Beloved Lord falls in the month of Avani (August/September) every year. Prathyaksha Mahaganapathy Homam, Special Poojas and Abhishekams are performed in the morning and the Unchavrithi Deity is taken out for procession in the Ratham/Elephant. After Rudrabhishekam and Annadhanam, the whole Agraharam gets together in the Padashala to prepare the most delicious Elayadai-s, which are then offered as Neividhyam to the Lord in the night, and then distributed as Prasadam.
This is celebrated for 9 days in the month of Purattasi (September/October). The Members of the Village offer Abhishekam to the Deity by turn in the morning with Dravyams such as Milk, Curd, Panchamirtham, etc. In the evening, there will be decorative illumination with Dheepams in the Temple. After Maha Dheeparadhana, Bhajans are presented and Special Neividhyams such as Kozhakkattai, Neiyappam, and Plantains, etc. are distributed.
On the 10th day (Vijaya Dasami), there is a special chanting of Vedas in the morning followed by Kalabhabhishekam (simply known as Kalabham) for the Deity with 4 to 5 litres of Pure Solid Sandal Paste. After adding the required perfumery items, the sandal paste is converted into semi-liquid form and thereafter applied on the Head (Sirasu) of the Idol. The Presiding Deity is then covered fully with the Kalabham, and the next day the Sandal Paste is distributed as Prasadam to all the Villagers. After the Kalabhabhishekam, there is also a feast for the Villagers.
This is usually celebrated on the Second Saturday in the month of December in praise of Lord Ayyappa. In the morning at around 8 am, “Laksharchana” to Lord Dharmasastha will be performed. A Namavali, “Madhagaja Vahana Mahamathe Harihara Soono Namosthuthe”, will be sung nonstop for 12 hours from 8 pm to 8 am the next day and thereafter, the Maha Dheeparadhana takes place. The celebration will conclude with Annadhanam for the Villagers.
Apart from the above, daily Ganapathy Homam during the month of Adi, Avani Avittam (Sravanam), Mandala Pooja, Special Pooja and Abhishekam on Pradosham days, Panaka Pooja on the day of Thai Poosam, etc, are also performed in the temple.
(Reproduced from the 1992 Maha Kumbhabhishekam Souvenir Release on 08-05-1992)
MELARCODE KAVADI POOJA
Thaipoosam is an important festival celebrated in praise of Lord Subramanya. The major attraction of this Pooja is the offering of Kavadi to Lord Subramanya by devotees. Kavadiyattam has been associated with the Thaipoosam festival for ages. Thaipoosam is celebrated during the Malayalam month of Makaram (January-February) and the day of the Poosam Star around Pournami (Full Moon).
In North Village Melarcode, the Kavadi Pooja festival is celebrated in a grand scale, by the Subbarama Patter’s Family. This festival has been celebrated for the past 380 years by the descendants. Prime importance is given to the spiritual aspects such as Rudrabhishekam, Vel Pooja and Singing of the evergreen Kavadi Songs. The Kavadi Pooja is performed on the auspicious Kirthigai day in the Tamil Month of Thai (January). During the Pooja, “Vellam (Jaggery) Mudira” is filled in and the same is attached to both sides of the Kavadi.
The Kavadi-s from Melarcode are very attractive and beautiful in all aspects and they are a testimony of the perfect workmanship of the talented artisans who have lived here. The Kavadi-s are of various sizes, with the arched structure decorated with flowers, peacock feathers and velvet silk cloths of various colours. Making a Kavadi takes the labour of 10 skilled labourers working continuously for 60 days. The main components are the flowers, flags, the decorative balls and the garland – all of which are made of Netti – specially brought from Kolkata every year. It must be noted that the Kavadi-s are remanufactured every year afresh. After the Pooja, devotees who are prepared to take the Kavadi will seek the blessing from the Guru and the Guru places the Kavadi on their shoulders. The Panaka Pooja is conducted on the night of the Kavadi Pooja Day. Early in the morning the next day, the family members and others aggregating to around 200 people, start the Kavadi Yatra to the Temple Town of Palani, walking the distance of 120 kilometers in 5 days.
Elaborate arrangements are in place at all the halting point’s enroute to Palani. Food is served for the Kavadi troupe and other devotees who join them at various points during the Kavadi yatra. Upon reaching Palani, the famous Panchaamirtham is prepared using the Vellam Mudira. Panchaamirtham Abishekam is performed to Lord Subramanya on the Thaipoosam day. Milk Abishekam is performed to the deity the next day.
During the entire journey, Kavadiyattam and Bhajans are presented, keeping the devotees spell bound. The Pooja is performed with a very spiritual fervour, chanting the Kavadi Songs. After Melarcode Late Vaidyan Subramania Iyer, it is Brahmashri MV Krishna Iyer, his younger brother, who is on the saddle now.
Several songs have been composed by the family members. ‘Sree Subramania Subrapatham’ has been composed by Late MSS Mani Iyer, the founder Trustee of “Mayuravaha Charities” (Bharat Batteries). He dedicated the Subrapatham to Lord Muruga at the Palani Temple. ‘Karthikeya Pancharathinam’ has been composed by Brahamashri MV Krishna Iyer.
Recently a CD titled “Melarcode Kavadi Pooja” has been released by Mayuravaha Charities, and it is the first of its kind in the world. The CD in the mp3 format consists of Viruthams, Panaka Pooja Songs and Murugan Bhajan Songs for a duration of 3 hours. The CD was launched at the Ancestral House at North Village Melarcode with the traditional Rudra Abishekam, Vel Pooja & Panaka Pooja.
The main objective of this CD is to propagate this ancient tradition across all parts of the world and to serve as a precursor for the younger generation to take up this evergreen Padathi in a big and grand way.