Ramanasramam Kumbabishekam: Part 2

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This post shows some of the Sri Ramanasramam Kumbabishekam, from the evening of 23 August, 2013. Part 1 of this series is here.

I arrived a few minutes before 5PM, when the proceedings were scheduled to begin. The priests were already in the yagasala.

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There were two colored rice flower mandalas on the ground. The one closest was the same one that was there when I left. The one on the other side was a new one. Apparently after I left and the pooja was completed on the old one, it was swept up, and a new one made. So instead of the early afternoon time being one of no activity (as was shown on the schedule), much had been going on.

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Rows of Purna-Kumbhas have been added at all four corners.

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And, most important, the primary Purna-Kumbhas on the main altar were no longer there. I think this means that the procession to carry these into the main temple, and perform abishekam with this holy water had already been done, even though it was on the schedule as something that was to happen from 5 to 7 PM. Sorry to miss this, it was something that I had hoped to photograph this afternoon.

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The Karta sat down and has started another pooja.

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It is pretty hot this time of day; note that there is a priest that is waving a fan at the Karta.

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V.S. Ramanan and another family member sit and watch.

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As part of the pooja the priest holds a ‘wand’ made of sacred grass, I think Dharba grass, against the Purna-Kumbha. I have seen this before but I do not know its significance .

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The Karta then removes the mango leaves from the Purna-Kumbha, and uses them to sprinkle the water in the Purna-Kumbha, now sanctified, around the area.

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Next, the Karta performs pradakshina around the yagasala, led by a Nadaswaram, blaring out its music.

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Here comes the Karta, carrying a basket of items. They look like pooja materials.

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He re-enters the yagasala with his basket.

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And comes to the corner near me.

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And sits down.

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There is a group of clay dishes, maybe 12 of them. Into them he is placing betel leaves. This is a ritual I have not seen. I wonder what it is?

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He is putting balls of brown material into the pots. Can this be cow dung?

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Devotees watch intently.

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The Karta is now adding flower petals on the top of each dish.

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The Karta’s assistant has each item ready for the Karta and hands it to him when needed.

All the pots have been adorned with flowers, and the Karta pranams them.

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Then offers them a camphor light.

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The assistant hands the Karta a bowl that looks goopy and brown, with a wand of sacred grass on top of it.

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During this part of the rite, a priest chants a mantra into a microphone.

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Young men, priests, stand nearby. I am taken with their tonsures.

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Here are the pots with the goopy brown material put on top. The flowers were removed for this.

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The Karta then drops liquid onto them, being careful to anoint each one. Is this water, or ghee? Or perhaps even cow urine?

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The Karta then stands up and walks away. The next part is done by the women of the Ramana family. First is the wife of V.S. Ramanan, Susila Ramanan. They are dabbing curd onto the pots.

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Other women do this too, I think in order of rank within the family.

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When the next one steps in, the previous one shows them exactly where they left off, making sure that each pot gets its curd.

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The priests have assembled for another pooja, I guess.

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Younger priests get more flower malas ready. These are white with red tips.

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Some others are yellow.

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I got a chance to photograph the pots after the ritual was over. I think I count 12 pots.

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Here are baskets of malas, ready to go.

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The pooja continues. Each of these poojas is for a different purpose. I wish I knew what was really happening. Ramanasramam published a schedule, but they do not seem to be following it, so I can’t really say what is going on.

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There seem to be several groups of priests, with varying status and roles. There are the young boys, students at the Ramanasramam Veda Pathsala, and also young men, I think also students here. There are older men, maybe in their 30s, who seem to be the main assistants. There are priests in their 40s and 50s who seem to be primary celebrants here, and then there is a group of older priests with grey hair, seniors. The two in the photo below are senior priests.

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An overall look at the pooja.

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Now a pack of orange threads is given to the Karta. They are offered to the Purna-Kumbha …

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…then given to the Karta.

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The Karta moves over to the oldest of the senior priests …

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…who ties one of the orange threads onto the Karta’s arm.

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The Karta then ties a thread onto the senior priest’s arm.

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Threads are also tied onto other priests’ arms.

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The Karta pranams the senior priest.

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Here is another of the senior priests.

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This is the new colored rice flower mandala, ready for a pooja to be performed. These are things that I which I knew more about. The design of this seems like one of the Tibetan ones where you can vanish by looking in the center, as the design gets smaller and smaller. .

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Now the priest who was the pujari at the mandala this morning returns. Tonight he is dressed in a yellow dhoti. I am sure that this has some significance, but I do not know what.

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The new camera I got has a panoramic view feature. Double click the image below to get a larger view. This shows more of what it was like, with the yagasala and all the devotees watching from the sides.

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Here is a group of the young boys, sitting in the yagasala.

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The mandala, set up and ready for a pooja. A coconut is in the center, on a bed of rice, covered with flowers.

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An assistant gets the sacred grass wand (what is its name?) ready for use in the pooja.

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Another priest has sat down at the other mandala and started a pooja.

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The pujari dressed in yellow sits down at the other mandala.

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And his pooja begins. We have two going on at the same time.

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From behind the crowd, another view of what it is like to be in the crowd, watching.

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The poojas continue.

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Next, I went into Ramana’s shrine to see what was going on. There were two lines of young boys sitting in front of it.

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A pooja was being offered to Ramana’s shrine. I notice that in front of it are two of the big Purna-Kumbhas from the main altar outside, waiting to be used by pouring the holy water over the shrine. 

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Next door, I walked around in the Mother’s shrine. I saw a priest at every moorthy holding a grass wand against the the idol. Here is Siva-Nataraj.

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The nine planets, the Navagraha, with priests holding wands against them, and nine Purna-Kumbhas.

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A young Brahmin from the Ramanasramam Veda Pathsala at this moorthy.

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The view inside the Mother’s shrine. I can’t see clearly but there seem to be several priests for the several moorthys in the shrine. I bet each was a wand and a Purna-Kumbha.

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Walking around the shrine, I see the same thing at each moorthy.

Here is Ganesha.

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At the feet of Dakshinamoorthy.

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Murugan.

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The young boy has to climb up the wall for this one.

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At the feet of Durga.

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Looking through the crowd to the Mother’s Shrine.

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I see at the Ramana idol in the new hall some nice decoration, but it is not being treated the same as all the others; no wand and no Purna-Kumbha.

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Even though there is obviously going to be more going on, maybe the first abishekam using the holy water from the yagasala, I am just tired out from the day and need to go home and rest. There will be more tomorrow.

I have taken over 800 photos today with my new camera. It seems to be fine.

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One Response to “Ramanasramam Kumbabishekam: Part 2”

  1. Venkata Ramana Sarma Podury Says:

    I think the new colored rice flower mandala big circle in a big square and triangles with a pattern in the center is SHREE CHAKRA. I remember that In Adi Shankaracharya a sankrit film, some where it is mentioned that If earth is the big circle the center most triangle is India, thus the whole earth is a shri chakra.. That is why India has a special place in spiritual world. Elaborate Puja is performed to this Shri chakra every friday in the mother’s temple.

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