Athirathram to conclude Today

via http://expressbuzz.com/states/kerala/panjal-athirathram-to-conclude-on-friday/265763.html published on April 15, 2011

PANJAI(THRISSUR) : The auspicious day of Vishu, the New Year in Kerala, will see the culmination of the 12 day Athirathram when the Yagashala area covering approximately 380 square metre will be set on fire marking the end of the vedic ritual.

The stage is set at Panjal village near Thrissur where over a million people are expected to attend the last day’s event. As part of the rites, Panjal Athirathram Yajamanan Ramanujan was coronated as Akkithiripad at 3 a.m. on Thursday. It is an honour reserved for the main priest of the Athirathram.

The Abhishekam ritual (after a series of six homams) will be performed by Adhwaryu before formally christening the Yajamanan as ‘Akkithiripad.’

The Athirathram is seen as the ultimate sacrifice of the Yajamanan who commits his entire life to the ritual. After the end of the Athirathram, the Yajamanan carries the fire from the ritual which will be kept burning at his house. He will perform daily rituals throughout his life and the fire will be used to light the pyre when he or his wife passes away.

The Yajamanan of Panjal Athirathram2011 is Ramanujan Akkithiripad, 57, from Chembra in Palakkad district. He performed the Somayagam in Thrissur in 2003. He was a priest at the Trikovil Vishukshetram temple in Chembra before performing the Athirathram.

One of the important rituals on the second last day was Sowmyam. Sowmyam, made using charu (a product made of rice) after the homam, if consumed by pregnant women, particularly in the first two months of pregnancy, is believed to be good for her child. It is also believed that Sowmyam is good for fertility.

People visiting Panjal believe that the nonstop chanting of Rigveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda resonating across the village would have a positive effect on them. Thousands of verses were chanted during the ritual.

The maximum verses were from Yajurveda followed by Rigveda and Samaveda. Over 1,50,000 words (including repetitions) of Yajurveda were chanted during the Athirathram. To a large extent, Yajurveda provides the description of the rituals and how these are to be performed. Rigveda is mostly hymns and is chanted during the preparatory stage and when the oblations are offered.

Over 8,000 lines (including repetitions) were recited from Rigveda during the Athirathram.The Athirathram is also being conducted to spread the message of ‘one with nature.’ All items used for the Athirathram ritual are taken from nature and the setting of fire to the Yagashala at the end of the ritual also symbolises giving it all back to nature.

The 380 square metre area of the Yagashala is based on the height of the Yajamanan. Only natural materials and wood were used to build the Yagashala.

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