- Ayya Vaikunda Avataram
The Ayya Vaikunda Avataram (Tamil: அய்யா வைகுண்ட அவதாரம் - "Incarnation of Vaikundar") is a festival celebrated by the followers of
Ayyavazhion the 20th day of the Tamil Month of Masi, the date on which the Ayyavazhi followers believe that Lord Vaikundar arose from the sea at Thiruchenduras the son of Mummorthies to destroy the evil spirit of Kaliand transform the Kaliyukaminto Dharma Yukam.
This is the only
Ayyavazhifestival which is celebrated 'at a time' in all worship centres of Ayyavazhi on 19th Masi"(3rd March)", the day before the date of incarnation of Vaikundar.
A grand procession originates from Thiruchendur to Nagercoil on the 19th of Masi representing the way of Vaikundar after the Avataram to
Detchanam, and another procession starts from Thiruvananthapuram to Nagercoil, on the same date representing the release of Lord Vaikundar from the Jail of Singarathoppe. Both meet at Nagercoil in the evening and at the next early morning, on the 20th of Masi The Vaikunda Avatara Orvalamoriginates from Nagercoil to Swamithoppe with several devotees. This is one of the largest festivals of the district which attracts a large crowd.
As per the scriptures of
Ayyavazhithe incarnation of Vaikundarwas from the Sea of Tiruchendur on 20th of Masi. So on celebrating this event the nation-wide followers of Ayyavazhi assemble at Tiruchendur on that day (19th Masi or 3rd March) at Avatharappathi, the Pathierected on the sea-shore where Ayya is believed to be incarnated.
On 18th Masi, (previous day) night the festival at Tiruchendur is celebrated in a grand scale and several conferences, cultural programs and
Anna Dharmams were held and the celebration goes on for the full night. Then on the 19th Masi morning, around 8 O' clock the people assembled there will take a holy bath in the Sea of Thiruchendur under the leadership of Payyan "(any one from Payyan dynasty)". This practise of taking bath (holy dip) at Thiruchendur on the day of Vaikunda Avatar is considered sacred. The Payyan applies sacred 'Namam' on everybody's forehead. Then around 9 O' clock the procession starts from Tiruchendurunder the leadership of Payyan. The people follows Payyan chanting "Ayya Siva-siva Siva-siva ara-kara ara-kara". Several vehicles such as trucks, vans and cars follow the procession.
The procession goes through
Seerkatchi, Nainarpathu, Udangudi, Chettiarpuram, Theriyoor, Santhayadi, Kottankadu, Muthukrishnapuram, Padukapathu, Thattarmadam, Thisaiyanvilaiand reaches Erumaikulamat noon. Here the people participate in Anna Dharmam. Then, the procession starts from here and travels through Ayankulam, Karaichuthupudur, Koodankulam, Chettikulam, Chalaipudur, Avaraikulam, Ambalavanapuram, Aralvaimozhi, Thovalaiand reaches Athalavilai.
Ayya Vaikundar, was released from the Jail of Singarathoppeon 19th Masi, (3rd March) after the trail with the king of Travancore, Swathi Thirunal. After the release Ayya was carried in a Vahanato Swamithoppe, by his followers. So on celebrating this event the people use to go to Thiruvananthapuramon that day and go as a procession to Swamithoppe.
Though religiously, this celebration is not associated with the incarnation of Vaikundar, since it coincides with that day it too is commonly seen as an incarnational fest and is celebrated in the same vein. Though this was an on-foot procession for some years, now it was changed as a vehicle procession. Most of the people who participate in this procession are from
Kerala. Like wise the Tiruchendurprocession, this procession is also led by a Payyan.
All the people assemble in
East Fortin Thiruvananthapuram. There Anna Dharmamis held and around noon the procession starts from East Fort to Nagercoilthrough the Thiruvananthapuram- Kanyakumari Highway (NH - 47). It passes through the towns of Balaramapuram, Parasala, Kaliyakkavilai, Marthandam, and Thuckalayand finally reachs Athalavilaiaround 6.30 p.m.
Celebration in Nagercoil
Both the Thiruchendur and Thiruvananthapuram processions unifies at
Athalavilai. The " 'Vaikunda Jyothi' " is lighted on the top of a hillock Vaikunda Malaiat Athalavilai. Then the procession proceeds to Nagercoil. A religious conference is held there in Nagercoil. Eminent persons participate in the conference. It is followed by cultural and religious programs etc. Ayyavazhidevotees from all over the nation stays here over the night.
The Great Masi Procession
On the next day on 20th of Masi, (4th March) 'The Great Masi Procession' begins early in the morning from Nagercoil. The Payyan (usually Pattathu Ayya) will lead the procession. A decorated
vahanais carried in front of the procession in which the Akilattirattu Ammanai(palm-leaf version) is sacredly placed. This is a on-foot procession and people walk following the vahana, chanting Ayya " 'Siva-siva Siva-siva Ara-kara Ara-kara' ". The participants will hold a saffron flag on their hands. Decorated Elephants and horses participate in this procession.
The procession goes through
Edalakudi, Suchindrum, Vazukamparai, Ethankadu, North Thamaraikulam. As a sign of religious harmony, people of different faiths, Christiansat Kottar; Muslimsat Edalakkudi; and Hindusat Suchindram; welcome the procession by offering churul or garlands on the way. The procession reaches Swamithoppeat 12 noon and goes to the Muthirikkinarufirst and then through the four car streets (Ratha veethi) of Swamithope pathi. Then it goes around the Santhana veethi, the inner-circumambulating route of pathi (shown in the blue print above). Before entering the Pathithe people hand over the flags at the pathi.
Lakhs of Ayyavazhi followers participate in this procession, [
Dina Malar, (5-3-2007) Nagercoil Edition, Page 8.] [ Dina Thanthi, (5-3-2007) Tirunelveli Edition, Page 2.] and thousands of Vehicles follows. [ Dina Malar, (5-3-2007) Nagercoil Edition, Page 8.] So the transport on Nagercoil-Kanyakumari Highway will be closed on that day till noon. This is one of the largest festivals of the state which attracts a huge crowd beyond the state. [ Daily Thanthi, "Daily(Tamil), Nagercoil Edition, 5/3/2006." ] [ Thamizh Murasu,"Evening Daily (Tamil), Nagercoil Edition, 4/3/2006." ]
This day was announced as a holiday by the government of
Tamil Nadufor the districts of Kanyakumari from 1993 and for Tirunelveliand Tuticorinfrom the year 2006. [cite web |url= http://www.dinamalar.com/2007mar05/district/kanyakumari.asp#3%20(Dinamalar)|title= Dina Malar|accessdate=2007-03-05 |format= Kanyakumari District|work= Ayya Vaikundar Avathara Dina Vizha]
Also, several other
Pathis too conduct processions on that day. Apart from these, the festival is also celebrated all over Tamil Nadu [cite web |url= http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/02/stories/2007030218740300.htm|title= The Hindu|accessdate=2007-02-07 |format= 'Engagements'|work= Ayya Vaikunda Dharmapathi] [cite web |url= http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2007030419620300.htm&date=2007/03/04/&prd=th&|title= The Hindu|accessdate=2007-02-07 |format= 'In Coimbatore today'|work= Ayya Vaikunta Sivapathi ] and Kerala [cite web |url= http://www.hindu.com/2006/03/09/stories/2006030924320300.htm|title= The Hindu|accessdate=2007-09-16 |format= 'Around the City'|work= Birth anniversary celebrations] grandly with processions in some Thangals including in chennaiin which thousands participate. [cite web |url= http://satrumun.blogspot.com/2007/03/175.html|title= satrumun|accessdate=2007-03-07 |format= 'தமிழ்நாடு'|work= ஐயா வைகுண்டசாமியின் 175-வது அவதார திருநாள்]
List of Ayyavazhi-related articles
* G.Patrick's,"Religion and Subaltern Agency", University of Madras, 2003.
* N.Elango and Vijaya Shanthi Elango's, "Ayya Vaikuntar - The Light of the World", 2000.
The Hindu(English News Daily), ThiruvananthapuramEdition, 5-3-2007.
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