The final day of the Ramanasramam Kumbabishekam is here, 25 August, 2013! Today the temples at Ramanasramam will be renewed. This is the day that the crowds will be the largest and most festive. Because of the crowds, this post shows more than most people who where actually there could see (since Carol and I were both there taking pictures from different locations).
Here is a schedule for the day’s events. It starts at 5:30 am.
The first two days we arrived right at the beginning. Today we get there about 8 am. People have started to gather, and find places from which they have a good view of the Kumbabishekam.
There are a number of police on the grounds. Here are two police women on the roof of the ashram.
The temple towers, Vimanam, have the platforms from which the ceremonies will be performed, and long yellow and red flower malas hanging down on all four sides.
The Kalasam, inverted brass pot-like structures, sit atop the Vimana that are over the inner sanctuaries of all Indian temples. They are now installed, after being blessed by the rites done yesterday. These Kalasam provide a special purpose; after the completion of the Kumbabishekam, it is said that a devotee can worship and receive the benefits of the God just by viewing these Kalasam. Devotees do not even need to enter the temple.
People have found good places to sit and wait. The big event will be in about two hours.
There are chairs behind these people. These are reserved.
People are sitting on adjoining buildings to get a better vantage point. Here they sit on a wall above the temple offices.
Inside the New Hall, the stone image of Ramana is as nicely decorated as we have ever seen.
In Ramana’s Samadhi, priests sit and wait.
People also wait on top of all the buildings in Ramanasramam; if there is a view of the roof of the temple, there are people gathered and waiting.
In the yagasala, the Karta is leading a homa (fire sacrifice). He holds a basket of items that are destined for the fire.
Many people sit and watch the proceedings. The crowd is so thick that it is hard to move through it to take these photographs.
The homa continues.
Remains of earlier poojas are laid out on the rice flower designs on the floor of the yagasala.
Sacrificial fires blaze in all the fire pits.
On the altars are a number of Purna-Kumbhas, covered with flower malas.
On the ashram grounds, people sit and wait. Some have started to sit in the reserved chairs under the big tree in the parking lot.
On the temple is a beautiful peacock. Some people say that Ramana is Murugan. Maybe having Murugan’s vahana (mount) present for the ceremony is evidence of this?
The gate is closed on way to the dining hall (where the stairs to the top of the temple are located). I try to get in to take photos for the blog, but they will not let me in. You have to have a special pass, and I don’t have one. They direct me to the top of a nearby building.
Here I am on the building. There is a good spot for me on the front wall where I can sit, and where I have good visibility of the temple roof and two of the three Vimanam.
Across from me, on the top of the dining hall, are other photographers. They had “Yellow Passes” so they could be on this building.
Below me is Carol in her blue saree. She took most of the photos that are in this post, since she was at ground level.
On the temple roof I can see a platform with video cameramen, and the Vimana that is above the New Hall.
Here are the two Vimanam that I can see. The one to the right is the one above the Mother’s shrine.
Inside the temple, final preparations are being made.
Ganesha is bright with oil, ready to be dressed.
Carol notices the statue of Ramana behind his Samadhi. It is now golden, instead of polished stone!
Men carry big malas for the final decorations.
Now, outside, the first priests have ascended the Vimana.
The videographers are ready.
At ground level, many people have come. Here is a woman and two children, I would guess her grandchildren. This is a special day, and people want to bring their children if they can, so they can witness this special celebration.
The photographers on the dining hall roof.
A flurry of activity is seen outside the yagasala. The procession is ready to start. I see Carol with her camera, ready for action.
Here comes the procession, led by the nadaswarams and drums.
The Ramanasramam president, V.S. Ramanan, leads the procession.
Here comes the first of the large Purna-Kumbhas, sitting on top of a priest’s head. Another priest walks in front carrying a basket which he uses to strew the path with flower petals.
More priests come carrying Purna-Kumbhas.
They walk through a thick crowd.
Big Purna-Kumbhas are carried on the head, smaller ones in the hands.
The young boys from the Veda Pathsala also get the honor of carrying Purna-Kumbhas and playing a part in this special procession.
The last of the Purna-Kumbhas go by.
I see more activity on top of the Vimana, but it will still be a few minutes before the procession arrives.
The procession goes around the temple. Here they are at the back wall.
A large crowd has gathered to watch the Kumbabishekam.
Here are two sadhus. It looks like the one on the left is hold a big brass item in his hand. A reader says:
“I want to point out that it is actually a metallic representation of a Flag. … These sadhus are devotees of Lord Muruga and the person is holding the flag of Lord Muruga. The flag has a symbol of a Cock on it.”
The procession has completed their pradakshina of the temple. They are coming around again.
This time they head into Ramana’s Samadhi.
And do pradakshina of Sri Ramana’s Samadhi. The horns lead the procession.
Followed by the drums, then many priests (and students) carrying Purna-Kumbhas.
One group of priests goes up to Ramana’s Samadhi and puts down their Purna-Kumbhas for later use.
Back to the roof of the temple, where now there is activity.
The Purna-Kumbha has arrived at the Mother’s shrine Vimana.
A pooja has started. One of Ramana’s family is offering pranams.
Down in the temple, the procession is rounding the Mother’s shrine. Again, horns lead the way.
Then come the priests carrying the Purnha-Kumbha.
Behind Ramana’s Samadhi, a special Purna-Kumbha awaits the coming abhishekam.
More Purna-Kumbhas are on a table in front of the Samadhi. The new golden Ramana figure is in the background.
Priests and Purna-Kumbha have arrived to the Vimana above the New Hall.
The pooja continues above the Matrubhuteswara, Mother’s temple.
Below, Purna-Kumbhas have been set out at each moorthy in the temple. Here is one in front of Siva Nataraja.
The priests are holding a brush of sacred grass against the Kalasam and chanting.
A priest places his hand on the Kalasam.
A priest picks up the Purna-Kumbha. It is almost time for the Kumbabishekam.
Cones of sacred grass are set out on the Kalasam. I guess these will spread the benefit of the holy water to all parts of the Kalasam.
Now is the moment! Priests hold up their hands, signaling to the crowd.
Holy water pours over the Kalasam. It is now renewed, and ready to send out its spiritual energy for the next 12 years.
Flowers are offered to the Kalasam. There are so many people on the platform, I worry that it might collapse.
A camphor light is offered to the Kalasam. Again priests hold up their arms to signal the crowd.
After offering the flame to the Kalasam, it is offered to Arunachala.
And then to all on the platform.
My friend, Saran, the best of the Arunachala guides, saw me with my camera, and offered to climb higher up on the roof so we could get photos of the Vimana above Ramana’s Samadhi.
The Kumbabishekam is complete. Camphor flame is being offered now. V.S. Ramana and other senior members of the family are present. The Karta is performing the ceremony here.
The platform above the Vimana over the New Hall is emptying out now. The priests are all climbing down the stairs.
Here are the three Vimanam on the temple roof. You can see that many people are on the roof. They all had special passes to be able to be there.
A wide angle shot of the area, taken by Saran.
The last offering to the Kalasam above Ramana’s Samadhi. Now the action will move to the temple level.
Inside Ramana’s Samadhi, it is packed with devotees.
Ramana’s Samadhi has all the decorations and clothes removed.
A number of Purna-Kumbhas sit and wait for the next event.
There is another procession, led by the reed-horns.
V.S. Ramanan and other family members stand near the Samadhi.
The priests have gathered around the Samadhi.
Another family member waits for the abhishekam.
Outside the is a nadaswaram concert, on the porch of Ramana’s Samadhi.
Here is a video, so you can listen if you want.
The priests prepare for the abhishekam.
Now the holy water is poured on Ramana’s Samadhi. This completes the whole cycle of the spiritual renewal of the temple.
Flowers are being tossed on Ramana’s Samadhi.
Then a camphor flame offered to it.
Now comes the time the crowd has been waiting for. Holy water is being sprinkled onto them.
They hold their hands out, hoping to get blessed by the holy water.
Finally Ramana’s Samadhi must be dressed with its new clothes.
A priest looks on. I think he feels blessed to have participated in the most special holy occasion.
Outside, the yagasala is empty.
It looks like “the party’s over.”
Nearby, at the Samadhi of one of the previous ashram presidents, a priest waits, holding a Purna Kumbha. I think that before the day is over, this will be offered to the Samadhi, so all are blessed today.
Inside Ramana’s Samadhi, the crowd does a last pradakshina around the shrine.
We were blessed to be able to watch and photograph this holy event, so we could share it with you. The next Kumbabishekam will be in 2025. Maybe you can come next time. These are the highest of holy days.
Here is a link to the 15 minute Ramanasramam video the made of this event, Maha Kumbhabkshekam 2013.