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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

" வன்னி மர பார்வேட்டை" ~ Vijayadasami Paarvettai purappadu : Thiruvallikkeni 2019

Vijayadasami Paarvettai purappadu at Thiruvallikkeni  2019  :    
திருவல்லிக்கேணி  "விஜயதசமி" புறப்பாடு. 

Regulars to Thiruvallikkeni Sri Parthasarathi Temple would have wondered  seeing the appearance of a  tree suddenly  in the middle of their way at the 36 pillared mantap.  That was significant !  ~

In the melee of ‘significant days’ now being assigned not many of us noticed -  #ForestMartyrsDay on Sept.11th  - it was an occasion remembering those who laid their lives to protect nature in the remote corners of the country. On September 11, 1730, over 360 people of the Bishnoi tribe were killed in Khejarli (Rajasthan) ~ and they fell objecting felling of Khejri trees by the king of Jodhpur.  .. .. that way not many of us knew of Bishnoi community before Salman Khan made headlines for his role in the blackbuck killing case of 1998?   The term Bishnoi translates to the number 29.   29 is the number of tenets laid down by the founder of the Bishnoi sect almost 500 years ago. Of the 6 tenets that focus on protecting nature, the two most thoughtful ones are: Jeev Daya Palani–Be compassionate to all living beings and Runkh Lila Nahi Ghave– Do not cut green trees. The principles were not only tailored to conserve the biodiversity of the area but also ensured an eco-friendly social life.  

Thousands of years ago humans lived in jungles that sustained them, providing both food and shelter. They lived in harmony with the wildlife, respecting their space. They neither hunted for sport, poached, burnt, nor cut down huge swathes of forest land. They venerated nature, because they realised the grave importance of forests, and worshipped trees and animals. In the core of the forests, they nurtured sacred groves — groves of trees that have religious importance. Many of these sacred groves exist even today. In our country, there exist about a 1,00,000 of these sacred groves. They are more commonly known as devrais. Each devrai has either a temple, shrine, monastery representing the sanctum sanctorum.  Hunting and logging are strictly prohibited inside a sacred grove. In some sacred groves, it is taboo to even cut a living branch. Thus, they form a haven for all kinds of wildlife — a biodiversity hotspot while elsewhere their numbers may be dwindling owing to deforestation or hunting. Each devrai has its own presiding deity.

Since devrais are protected areas of forests, they serve as an effective method of conservation of wild flora and fauna. Moreover, in India, there are various indigenous tribes that live in sync with wildlife. Among them the Bishnois deserve a special mention. For the Bishnois, conservation of nature and wildlife is their religion. In the arid regions of Rajasthan, they manage sacred groves called orans where there are forests of Khejri trees and large populations of antelopes like the blackbucks and chinkara roam.   The Bishnoi religion took form in the 15th century when Guru Jambeshwar, was greatly disturbed by the destruction of the environment and acted. He laid down the 29 tenets of the Bishnoi religion (Bishnoi means 29). The religion lays great emphasis on protection of all nature.  Spread over the western parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh, the Bishnoi are among the world’s oldest surviving ecologist communities. Their love for nature that has not only helped them survive the droughts of the Thar Desert but has also helped the inhabitant wildlife remain safe from poachers. The Bishnoi community has been doing this long before the beautiful Black Buck was listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Bishnois were there before even the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into being.

In 1730 AD, when men from Maharaja Abhay Singh’s army started cutting down the Bishnoi’s sacred khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees in the village of Khejarli, a woman named Amrita Devi stepped forward and claimed that cutting off her head was cheaper than felling a tree. She was decapitated, along with her three daughters who voluntarily took her place, followed by 363 other Bishnoi men, women and children who stepped forward until the massacre was finally called to the attention of the king.
Tree hugging photo : credit youth ki

The King of Jodhpur had dreamt of building a big palace,    was full of remorse and stopped his men. The palace was never built and the people of Rajasthan began worshipping the Khejri tree with even more fervour. Today, Blackbuck roam freely in Bishnoi villages. Sick animals are tended to by the people there and orphan calves are even nursed.  Some countries have dedicated a specific time to celebrate trees. Australia holds its largest community tree-planting event in late July, while the United Kingdom hosts an annual National Tree Week in late November to launch the start of the winter planting season. At a global level, the United Nations announced March 21 to be International Day of Forests to highlight the importance of all types of trees.

In the UAE, the ghaf, which goes by its scientific name prosopis cineraria but is also known as shami or khejri, was declared as the national tree in 2008 – due to its cultural, historical, and environmental significance. The ghaf tree tolerates harsh conditions and makes them hospitable for those around it. There is a saying that goes thus: “Death will not visit a man, even at the time of a famine, if he has a ghaf, a goat and a camel, since the three together will sustain a man even under the most trying conditions." The branches, bark, leaves, flowers, and roots of the ghaf all provided rich resources and habitat for the UAE’s wildlife and inhabitants, making it an integral part of the food chain. Many birds such as the desert eagle owl, yellow-throated sparrow and brown-necked raven build their nests on its branches. Desert livestock fed largely on its nutritious leaves.

Recently, a  woman in Jodhpur's Rewar village, who witnessed 4 poachers kill a blackbuck, sat on an indefinite fast as a mark of protest demanding the arrest of the hunters. Indira Vishnoi, the middle-aged eyewitness to the poaching tragedy, sat on Dharna along with a group of wildlife saviours from the Vishnoi community known widely as protectors of the environment and wildlife in western Rajasthan.   In a couple of days, the fasting Indira’s condition deteriorated sharply and the district administration had to send in an ambulance and a number of doctors to treat her at the spot itself as Indira refused to be shifted to any hospital or to end her protest. Indira Vishnoi told the forest officials and other authorities that she would not end her fast or get treated in any hospital until all the four poachers who had killed the blackbuck in front of her eyes are arrested by the police.  Jeeta Ram Bishnoi, a member of Bishnoi community who is a part of the group demanding the arrest of the poachers says : “ Even if today we have to die to protect our environment, we will happily do so with no worries. We can get our heads cut in the process, it doesn’t matter. If someone gets to know of a huntsman in the area, they sprint to stop him without worrying about his bullet. The only aim at that time is to capture the hunter and make sure he has to face the music in the court.”

A year of so back, the Hindu reported of a huge more-than-a-century-old Jammi tree that stood  in the middle of the road in the non-descript Khambampadu village. The tree was fortunate enough not to face the axe during road widening, as the residents are sentimentally attached to it. Nobody in this environment-conscious village, about 75 km from the district headquarters, considers it as hindrance in their path. “We understand the impact of global warming and the severe biodiversity loss on our lives,” says a group of people in the village in the drought-prone Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh. The residents nurture the tree, which faced several testing times, including the devastating Diviseema cyclone that caused havoc in 1977.  Several avenue trees elsewhere faced the axe be it for the expansion of the Chennai-Kolkata highway or for the four-laning of the Ongole-Chirala highway.

An year and a few months ago, when Google India marked the 45th  anniversary of the Chipko movement with a doodle, it was a refreshing flashback to forest communities sacrificing their lives to protect trees from being felled for timber use.  Landscape of Shekhawati region is dotted with khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees, which can survive in the worst of the droughts and are an important source of fodder for camel and goats.  “Banni Kodtine, Bangara haagali” — is a popular greeting during Dussehra in Karnataka, meaning “Let me give you leaves of Banni tree, and let them bring gold to you”.   Banni tree, considered a symbol of courage, peace and prosperity, is the State Tree of Rajasthan and newly formed Telangana. The bark of vanni  tree is useful in treating piles, worm infestation, muscular and joint pains. Used as antidote for snake or scorpion-bite poisoning. Paste of flowers with sugar is given to prevent unexpected abortions. The leaves and fruits are used to cure nervous disorders. The smoke by burning leaves exposed in case of eye complaints ~ and that tree symbolically planted in the mantap at Thiruvallikkeni was ‘vanni tree’.

In the month of Purattasi is celebrated the nine day festival of Navarathri.  In all these days, there occurs  grand purappadu of Vedavalli Thayar inside the temple premises.  ‘Siriya Thirumadal’ is recited  during the purappadu.  The last day is celebrated as Saraswathi Pooja, the day of reverence to the Lord of Learning.  The next day is Vijayadasami ~ the day considered most auspicious for starting learning.  Children are put in schools and taught the first syllable known as “Aksharabyasam”.  Today  8th Oct 2019    is * Vijayadasami *.   On Vijayadasami day, takes place  ‘paarvettai purappadu’  of Lord Parthasarathi on ‘kuthirai vahanam’.

இந்தியப் பாலைவனங்களின் தங்க மரம்’ எனச் சிறப்பிக்கப்படுவது, பல்வேறு சிறப்புகளை உடைய வன்னி மரம். பாலைவனங்களிலும் வானிலை அதிகம் வறண்டிருக்கும் பகுதியிலும் தாக்குப்பிடித்து வளரக் கூடிய பசுமை மாறாத மரம் வன்னி. இதன் அனைத்துப் பகுதிகளுமே பயன்படுவதால், ‘கற்பகதரு’ என்றும் சொல்வார்கள்.  வன்னி மரம்  சோழ மன்னர்களின் குல மரம் எனும் சிறப்பு உடையது.

‘Prosopis cineraria’  is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. Common names include Khejri or "Loong Tree"; Janty; Vanni (Tamil); Jammi (Telugu); and Sami.  A large and well-known example of the species is the Tree of Life in Bahrain – approximately 400 years old and growing in a desert devoid of any obvious sources of water.

In the epic Mahabaratha, during their exile Pandavas had to spend a year without revealing their identities.  This period was spent on Virada desam.  This is explained in detail in Virada parvam of Mahabaratha.  On Vijayadasami day which coincided with completion of their one year in exile,  in the war to protect Virada kingdom, Arjuna took back his bows and arrows hitherto hidden in a ‘vanni tree’. On Vijaya Dasami day at Thiruvallikkeni, ‘vanni mara parvettai’ is enacted every year.   This now-a-days  is symbolically celebrated at the entrance of the temple itself ; in olden days [till two decades ago]  this significant event  called ‘paarvettai’ took place in Vasantha bungalow situate in Venkatrangam Street.  Now that picturesque bungalow and the mantap are no longer there. At the entrance of the temple, leaves of vanni  are  symbolically placed and the Lord comes near the tree ~ after aarathi, couple of  leaves get plucked by the battar representing the Perumal.  In the purappadu, it is  ‘Sthothra Padam’ goshti ~ Thadi Panchakam [Dhati panchagam] and Sthothra Rathnam  rendering in goshti.  Perumal had kulakkarai purappadu – TP kovil 2nd street, Bandala Venugopala Street and then from South Mada St Junction and periya mada veethi.

There are only a handful of occasions, when Perumal has purappadu beyond the boundaries of maada veethi – that include : Eekkattu Thangal thiruvooral uthsavam, Masi maham,  Thai poosam, Kodai Uthsava sarrumurai and Vijaya dasami.  In olden days, when Emperor was on the move, his subjects too would accompany.  Have heard that traditional Srivaishnava scholars when they have darshan of Emperuman in purappadu, would move along with the Perumal couple of houses at least.  Hundreds accompany Sri Parthasarathi when He visits Ekkadu ~ hundreds walk alongwith Deva Perumal in His sojourn during Chitra Pournami, Rajakula theppam, Seevaram paarvettai and the like.  Here are some photos of today’s purappadu.

"பார் எல்லாம் புகழ்ந்திடும் ஓர் சாரதி,
அவர் பார்த்தனுக்கு தேர் ஓட்டும் சாரதி,
எங்கள் சாரதிபார்த்தசாரதி எங்கள் சாரதி !! பார்த்த சாரதி" ……

என ஸ்ரீ பார்த்தசாரதிப்பெருமாளை புகழ்ந்து பாராட்டிதிருவல்லிக்கேணி திருக்கோவிலில் நடக்கும் வருடாந்தர உத்சவங்கள் எல்லாவற்றையும் பற்றிய பாடல் மிக பிரபலமானது. மறைந்த திரு கே.வீரமணி அவர்கள் கணீர் குரலில் பாடிய அந்த பாடல் கேட்கும் போதெல்லாம் உத்சாகமும் தைரியமும் தரவல்லது. அதில் புரட்டாசி மாத உத்சவங்கள் பற்றி சில வரிகள் இங்கே :

வன்னி மர பார்வேட்டை கண்டு அருள வலம் வரவே !
மன்னவனும் எழுந்து அருள்வான் புரட்டாசி மாதம் தன்னில்;

விஜயதசமி அன்று ஸ்ரீ பார்த்தசாரதி பெருமாள் பார்வேட்டை புறப்பாடு கண்டு அருள்கிறார். பெருமாள் குதிரை வாகனத்தில் எழுந்து அருளி வன்னி மரத்தில் அம்பு எய்யும் வைபவம் நடக்கிறது. சில வருடங்கள் முன்பு வரை பெருமாள் வெங்கடரங்கம் தெருவில் உள்ள வசந்த பங்களாவிற்கு புறப்பாடு கண்டு அங்கே பார்வேட்டை நடக்கும். பிறகு பெருமாள் பெசன்ட் ரோடு வழியாக சாத்தானி தெரு எனப்படும் துளசிங்க பெருமாள் கோவில் தெரு பக்கம் வழியாக பெரிய மாட வீதி புறப்பாடு கண்டு அருள்வார். இப்போது இந்த பங்களா இல்லாதபடியால் பார்வேட்டை வைபவம் கோவில் வாசலிலேயே நடக்கிறது. புறப்பாட்டில் தாடி பஞ்சகம் மற்றும் ஆளவந்தார் அருளிச்செய்த ஸ்தோத்ர ரத்னம் சேவிக்கபடுகிறது. திருவல்லிகேணியில் இன்று 8.10.2019   நடந்த புறப்பாட்டின் போது எடுக்கப்பட்ட சில புகைப்படங்கள் இங்கே :

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan

PS :  today is Purattasi Thiruvonam hailing the birth of Swami Vedanthachar. A separate post on Swami is being posted.

1 comment:

  1. Good coverage on the related history of Rajasthan ! Thank you for the enlightening on that.