The Annual Festival

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Senthil, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Nearly all South Indian style temples hold an annual festival. It is a time of anywhere from 5 to 31 days when the intensity around the temple is heightened by more ritual, rites that are only done once a year, etc. Live musicians perform along with the rites, and are in tune with what the priests are doing, elaborate co-ordination is needed.

    Mystically, its a time of cleansing of the past, and recharging the temple's batteries for the coming year. The temple's kodimaram (flagpole, acts like an lightning rod of connection to inner world's, is accompanied astrally by a pillar of light) has daily abhishekham, and aarti, not performed any other time of the year. The festival flag is hoisted in a two hour elaborate ceremony to signify the beginning of the festival, and then lowered to signify it's end.

    To maintain the sanctity, the chief priest cannot shave, or leave the temple property for the duration of the festival.

    One day is dedicated to a chariot festival, and special bronze deities are paraded outside each day. (These days the God comes to you, the rest of the year You go to Him/Her) The elaborate wooden chariot goes back into the shed for the rest of the year. Strong young men are given the job of carrying, the murthi sits on top of an elaborate vahana made for this purpose.

    Devotees see it as similar to a pilgrimage, a time to drop all worldly concerns to focus on religion. Many take holidays, and it;s seen as both a time of celebration, and a for some, a time of penance.

    Other Hindus unfamiliar with this often wonder what happened to their peaceful temple.

    Today is day 5 of the annual festival of the temple I attend.

    Questions?
     
  2. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator

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    What is the significance to shaving that, if the priest were to do it, it would hurt the sanctity of the temple?
     
  3. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    He is a conduit, and goes through purification rites done by another priest. So God acts through him, just as He does through the murthy. But specifically, I don't know. I'll ask him tomorrow. I suspect it it involves maintaining the conduitness, if that makes sense.
     
  4. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Bot engaging in thoughts other than 'dharma'. Grooming oneself is vanity. Commonly done by devotees also during rituals, pilgrimages or death rights.
     
  5. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Steve, I asked today, and it has to do with the risk of nicking oneself and drawing blood. In Agamic (based on mystic laws) temples, blood is considered quite inauspicious. So for this reason, chief priest can't shave (or cut fingernails). There is no other restrictions different than any other time.
     
  6. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator

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    Thanks for following up with your priest, Senthil. Your earlier comment on "maintaining the conduitness" made sense, but the additional knowledge about the negative perception surrounding blood puts things in more perspective for me. I would not have guessed cutting fingernails, but that's from my very modern perspective of nail clippers, where as these traditions and beliefs existed well before that invention or the creation of the safety razor.
     
  7. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Yes, no kidding re the modern inventions. Still, in India, the barber with a straight razor in his hands can do a very clean tonsuring in a matter of a couple of minutes, with never a cut. But if you do anything 100 times a day for 30 years, I suppose some skill should evolve.
     
  8. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    I wonder if that is the reason, in my wife's Hindu tradition, the male relatives of the deceased do not shave for 12 days after the funeral pyre? Then, on the 13th day they shave their face and head. My wife didn't know and I never thought to ask anyone else.
     
  9. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    More likely cleansing or release, or what Aupmanyav said. Still I am only guessing. In the priest's case it would be different, as they are trained for that specific position. (conduitness) For head-shaving itself, besides the childhood samskara that all Hindus get called the chudakarana, the most common reason is penance.
     
  10. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    You're probably right. So many of the reasons behind the rituals in my wife's tradition have been lost. You really have to dig sometimes to get at the true meaning.
     
  11. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    Then there is the sorting of superstition from mystical sense. There is some overlap. In my Tamil community, there is no head shaving for death, nor head covering for women. But in the North, yes. Last year I kept track of the places (states and countries)where people come from that come to this festival. I'm a volunteer greeter/explainer to those who look lost. Their once quiet temple is transformed into this loud active place. In the last three days we had Guyana, Bengal, Jammu Kashmir, Andhra, Mauritius, Gujarat, Nepal, South Africa, and Rajasthan.

    Some pics here: http://www.mahaganapathytemple.com/frames.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
  12. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    When do you think people began shaving? And skeletons do not show this kind of nails.

    upload_2015-7-26_9-6-46.jpeg

    http://www.moderngent.com/history_of_shaving/history_of_shaving.php

    "According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, circular solid gold or copper razors can be found as far back as the 4th millennium BC in some Egyptian tombs."
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/08/17/mf.shaving/index.html?_s

    And Kerala has the tradition of whole-body shaving (that is what my Christian friend from Kerala told me).
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  13. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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  14. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator

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    I knew that people have shaved and cut their nails for millennia. I just meant that today, with nail clippers and safety razors, there is less a chance that you'll draw blood while performing either action. Whereas when religious traditions about keeping a temple pure by making sure the priest didn't bleed in it were developed, it was in an age well before such inventions, so there was a much higher chance that someone shaving or cutting his nails might nick himself and bleed. We're on the same page. I phrased my previous statement poorly.
     
  15. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    I do not think the tradition is about blood. Some traditions require animal sacrifice. It is about not wavering from devotion or remembrance (in worship or about rites for ancestors). For example, devotees to Ayyappa (Sabarimalai) will not shave for 40 days in olden times or have sex during the period it took them to complete the pilgrimage.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Sorry for duplicates.
     
  17. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    So who do we trust? The well trained Agamic Hindu priest with 30 years of training, or some fellow on the internet not from that tradition who feels he knows better?

    Today is the supparam festival.
    (The supparam is a highly decorated fake front of a goparam which Ganesha is taken on parade in.)
     
  18. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    :) To each his/her own. If you compare my views with the views of a well trained Agamic Hindu priest with 30 years of training, there will be a thousand differences. What should I say for 'Supparam' - Happy Supparam, Senthil! (We do not have that in North. We have adopted the visit of Lord Ganesha to deveotees' homes in the Maharashtrian way. I am an atheist but my family does that and I join them. I suppose by Suppuram you mean su - the good, pooram - annual temple festival, like Thrissur Guruvayoor Pooram - for non-Indians, the Elephant Festival of Kerala).

    Ganesha.jpg [​IMG]
    Lord Ganesha that came to Aupmanyav's house, Thrissur Guruvayoor Pooram
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  19. Senthil

    Senthil Active Member

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    The very idea of a local temple annual festival is foreign to North India, in general. Over the past few days I've explained it to folk from Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu Kashmir, and Orissa. Generally people are appreciative of the explanation, and come to a better understanding of why this temple has an unexplained peacefulness to it the rest of the year. Our ancient sages knew what they were doing.

    The two main ideas are purification, and rejuvenation. Physically, the boundary, and the kodimaram are the most important elements. Ritually, it is the evening parade.
     
  20. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Check my topic on Sri Puri Jagannath 'Nabakalebaram' (New Idol for Lord Jagannath and Rath Yatra) in Hinduism Forum at religiousforums.com. (As it happens, I am barred from that forum till August 6 for a mischievous post :))
     

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