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Monday, February 24, 2020

Sri Parthasarathi Theppam 2020 - Neeratta Mandapa mandagappadi

Sri Parthasarathi Theppothsavam 2020 - day 1 - Neeratta Mandapam

Like Thiruther, theppam (float) is a thiruvizha. Could recall that in my younger days, shops selling sweets, dolls, would spring up around the tank square.  There would be rangarattinams (carousel / merry go round) – the man who would carry a big figurine and sell a type of sweet that would be formed in the shape of a watch around our wrists was a big attraction.  For sure, you would have stopped wondering the big thiruther at Thiruvallikkeni – some of you may not have noticed this small mantap just in front of the temple and thiruther.  This is known as Andal Neeratta mantap as during the 9 days of Neeratta uthsavam, Andal has thirumanjanam here.

English reference of float need not be a floatilla.  A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle like a truck or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as the many carnivals held in Western World.  At a carnival procession in Spain, participants dressed like Nazis and Jewish concentration camp prisoners while dancing next to a float evoking crematoria.  The Israeli Embassy in Madrid on Tuesday protested the display this weekend at the annual carnival procession in Campo de Criptana, a town situated about 80 miles southeast of the capital.  Last year, UNESCO dropped the Aalst Carnival from its list of world heritage events over the depiction of Jews in the 2019 procession. It featured a float with effigies of grinning Haredim holding bags of money and one with a rat on its shoulders.  The group that created the float said it was meant to protest the rising cost of living.

In Kerala, there is float as also our Parthasarathi Emperuman at Thiruvaranvilai divyadesam, popularly Aramula.  Palliyodams are Aranmula's unique snake boats ("Chundan Vallam") which devotees hold in reverence, considering it as the divine vessel of the presiding deity in Sree Parthasarathy temple.  On each boat, there will be a flag and two or three ornamental umbrellas. Locating a suitable tree preferably Anjili, cutting it down and bringing to the location for construction is the first step. These boats are about 100 to 138 ft in length, with the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft. and a long tapering front portion. When completed it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide.   The Vallamkali is a perfect blend of native craft, devotion, and sports. The event is rich with religious meaning and symbolism.  When a village builds a Palliyodam, all its people, followers of various faiths, come together.  Palliyodam signifies the boat of Lord Parthasarathy, presiding deity of the Sree Parthasarathy Temple, and there are 51 of them in and around Aranmula. The Palliyoda Karayogams, representing the villages along the Pampa, are the custodians of these boats.

At Thiruvallikkeni divaydesam - there is a small Neeratta mandapam, exactly opposite to Periya Thiruther.  Sri Andal during the Neeratta Uthsavam in Margazhi has thirumanjanam here Sri Parthasarathi Perumal too visits this mantap immediately after the first day  ‘theppam’[float] festival.

The annual float festival [Theppothsavam] is being celebrated at Thiruvallikkeni Divyadesam and I have posted about the day 1 festivity along with photos.  On 23.2.2020,  after 5 rounds in the Theppam, Sri Parthasarathi had mandagappadi at the neeratta mandapam. After the very short halt, Perumal has purappadu in siriya thiruther.   

Adjacent to this mantap was the ‘yanai kottai’ housing the Temple elephant and a cluster of shops including some selling eversilverware.  During the samprokshanam in 2015, all these shops and other structures including the public convenience maintained by SYMA, which functioned at the ‘yanai kottai’ were also cleaned up, providing a direct view to the Temple façade  and the gopuram.  Here are some photos taken when Sri Parthasarathi Emperuman halted at this mantap.

adiyen Srinivasa Dhasan

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