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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Swami Manavala Mamunigal Sarrumurai 2018 ~ procession of Umbrellas

Swami Manavala Mamunigal Sarrumurai 2018 : part 2
அழகு திகழ்ந்திடும் ஐப்பசியில் திருமூலம் ***

Chennai as usual is expecting water crisis – drinking water is becoming scarcer ! – people were lured to this warning by Met Dept.  which read that Coastal areas of north Tamil Nadu would experience moderate rainfall and heavy rainfall in isolated places from the night of November 14.  It reads that the  deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone ‘Gaja’ on 11.11.18.  North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to get good rain on November 14 and 15, India Meteorological Department officials said.  Named ‘Gaja’, the cyclone lay 840 km east of Chennai and 880 km east of Nagapattinam. It is likely to intensify into a severe storm in the next 24 hours, a bulletin issued at 4 p.m. said. It is expected to move west-northwestwards during the next 36 hours and then west-southwestwards towards the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts in the subsequent 48 hours. While moving west-southwest, it is likely to weaken gradually and cross the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Cuddalore and Sriharikota during the forenoon of November 15. Rainfall in most places, with heavy spells at isolated places, is likely to start over north coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh from the evening of November 14.

In our culture – we welcome rains [rain, rain go away is not our tradition] –

விண் இன்று பொய்ப்பின் விரி நீர் வியன் உலகத்து*
உள் நின்று உடற்றும் பசி.
இம் மண்ணுலகம் கடல் நீரால் சூழ்ந்தது ஆயினும் -   மழை இல்லையெனின்  பசியின் கொடுமை உலகை வாட்டக்கூடும் - என்பது திருவள்ளுவர் வாக்கு.  

‘aippasi – adai mazhai’ is an old adage. Rains are needed ~ they are but common in the Tamil month of Aippasi perhaps there are days when we would not want rain to play spoilsport (nothing to do with sports) – last year during this period it rained so heavily, inundating places.   Looking back some 4 decades ago,  normal life may not be affected greatly in rains – life was different – most houses in Triplicane would see rain water percolating from roof – and the area for night sleep would get more constrained as there would be water inside rooms too .. ..  a single big black coloured umbrella was a luxury and people would walk on roads with folded umbrella – not much of raincoats or other accessories  - thought difficult, people would pedal through rain drenched streets gleefully.

History of umbrellas is long and eventful. From the earliest appearances of simple palm leaf umbrella, long age of being synonym to wealth, to the modern time when is regarded as general item, umbrellas managed to intersect with our history in many interesting ways. Advancements in technology, changing tastes, and use in religion all enabled umbrellas to grow and prosper, becoming one of the principal ways we protect ourselves from rain. Protection from sun with umbrellas and parasols slowly faded out from fashion, which can be attributed to the rise in popularity of hats.

When the Mandarins ruled China in the 11th century B.C., ''The rank of any holder of office could be judged according to whether a double or triple-decked umbrella was carried over him; a fourfold sunshade was the privilege of the heaven-born emperor alone,'' wrote Max von Boehn in ''Ornaments: Modes and Manners'' (Benjamin Blom, 1970). In imperial Japan the Mikado never appeared in public unaccompanied by his parasol-bearer. Even today a parasol-bearer stands near the Emperor as he gardens.  .. … .. they are too significantly associated with our Hindu culture – one could see them on ‘raths of Mahabarath’ .. and specifically with our Temples. 

This year, there has been no significant rainfall in Chennai ~   and those  who ventured to Triplicane this morning (Sunday 11th Nov 2018 ) would have wondered what was happening – it was a procession of umbrellas, nay not the black one that humans use when it rains– but spotless white parasols – the divine kodais    ~ 10 sets of them – the divine kudais  20 in no.  - some huge – ranging from 14 to 18 jon kudais - and alongwith that hundreds of Thennacharya Srivaishnavaites, most of them sporting the traditional ‘Urthva Pundram – the Pannirandu Thiruman”.

The morning of this Sunday dawned so gracefully – for those of us would never forget the greatest darshan one would dream -  the divine blessing of  ‘Kaithala Sevai’ ~ [Lord Parthasarathi and consorts being carried in the hands of the battars] – then the umbrellas were getting opened up – spotless white parasols – the divine kodais  ‘Thirumoolam in Aippasi’  the day commemorating the birth of divine Acharyar Swami Manavala Mamunigal.  Mamunigal is fondly known as ‘Yatheendra Pravanar’ arising out of his irresistible attachment to the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujar [Yatheendrar]. 

~ and at Thiruvallikkeni, to the long list of kainkaryams, today more pronounced were those carrying white parasols for the Acaryar, goshti, Perumal and .. ….in grandiose.   Mamunigal is the reincarnation of Adi Sesha.   Of those who render service to MahaVishnu, Ananthan – the Adi Sesha serves Him in the best possible manner that one could visualize. 

சென்றால் குடையாம் இருந்தால் சிங்காசனமாம்,
நின்றால் மரவடியாம் நீள்கடலுள், - என்றும்
புணையாம் மணிவிளக்காம் பூம்பட்டாம் புல்கும்
அணையாம்திருமாற்கு அரவு.

                                                          – Muthal Thiruvanthathi, Poigai Azhwaar. 

                          When Thirumal is moving, Thiruvananthazhwaan hoods him like a parasol,  when God sits, Seshan is  settee – the seat of comfort;  when Lord stands,  the snake serves Him as footwear ; in the Thiruparkadal where Lord reclines to take rest, he becomes the silken bed – he gleams with light and provides handrest too.   The serpentine Ananthazhwaan is ever at the service of the Lord in every possible manner.  .. .. and today, we reminisced our Acaryar with a grand purappadu and .. 10 sets of divine umbrellas.

In the few years that he lived on this earth, Sri Varavara Muni physically ensured renovation of numerous temples, reorganised rituals and set up ways of worship and ensured continuance of traditions  through  his eight famous disciples known as Ashtadiggajas (elephants of the eight directions).  Sri Vanamamalai Mutt at Nanguneri was established by Mamunigal through his first disciple Sri Ponnadikkal Jeeyar in 1410. 

At Thiruvallikkeni Divyaesam around 07.45  am – Manavala Mamunigal came out with Sri Parthasarathi for a grand purappadu – the 20 pairs of parasols were the added attraction – to the glorious Acharyar Swami Manavala Maamunigal and Emperuman Sri Parthasarathi glittering with thiruvabaranams.   His work - Upadesa Rathinamalai goshti was recited in the goshti.  The purappadu ended around 10.00 am.

Miles away, in  Surakarta, Central Java, annual Indonesian Umbrella Festival [FPI] charms visitors with beautiful, brightly colored umbrellas.  Throughout the three-day festival, hundreds of visitors come to  Balekambang Park to enjoy the exotic umbrellas displayed across the park that was built by Surakarta king KGPAA Mangkunegara VII in 1921. 

Here are some photos of the grand purappadu in the morning.
~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.
11th Nov 2018.

PS : since most time was spent on taking aerial photos – no portraits of those who carried the umbrellas.                               


  1. All are breath taking photos. Really fantastic

  2. All the photos are very great. Adiyen Srinivasan dasan - K.Ramani New Perungalathur PS: My grandson had the opportunity to witness the utsavam on Saturday and Sunday