Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur - ensuing kumbabishekam (consecration) and preparations

Brihadeeswara temple, Tghanjavur, TN

The 1,000 plus year old (1003 and 1010 AD) popular ''Shivalayam'' -  Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu  is abuzz with preparations for its 6th Kumbabishekam (consecration) on February 05 next month and, it is expected, that more than a million devotees may attend this  rare  big ceremony and offer prayers at this UNESCO recognized World heritage  temple. Thousands of people visit this temple daily and on the day of Pradosham, this historical temple is flooded with devotees. Pradosha worship is quite popular  here. It is a bimonthly occurrence on the thirteenth day of every fortnight in the Hindu calendar closely associated with the worship  god Shiva. The belief is the auspicious 3 hour period, 1.5 hours before and after the sunset is the  right time for worship of Lord Shiva. It is said that any  fast or vow performed during the period is called "Pradosha vrata".  A devotee should worship Lord Shiva with dedication and bhakti.

Nandi (bull) at Thanjavur brihadeeswara temple. thrilling travelcom.

A fine model of Chola Architecture, it is often called ‘Dakshina Meru’ as a complement to the ‘Uttara Meru’ or the sacred mount of Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. As for Dakshina Meru, it is said to be  a center of divine power. To  the builder, a great warrior and king Rajaraja I (A D 985-1012), his visualization took  him to a higher  level you can ever imagine. The entire temple is an embodiment of  divinity  conducive to spiritual awakening. A great devotee of Lord  Shiva, he built a wonderful edifice made entirely of hard stone - granite and related rocks  and made a permanent niche for himself in the area of temple design and architecture. In his endeavor, Siddha Prusha Karoor Devar was of great help to him. Sri Raja Raja's   name resonated  in all directions in the past, resonates now and will resonate till the end of this world. The later rulers of Thanjavur - the Nayakas and  Marathas  tried hard to keep this monument intact  and this temple is well safe-guarded and  if it is what is to day it is because of successive rulers' special care  and it stands as a great tribute to king Raja  Raja I and his devotion to Lord Shiva.

In this  temple, now under the management of the ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India,  the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments under the Tamil Nadu Govt. is looking after the  strenuous consecration work. The important Yagasala pujas  will  begin   on 1st February.  A mammoth ‘pandal’ measuring 178 feet in length and 108 feet in breadth is set up  near the Peththannan auditorium  close to the Big Temple to house the ‘yaga salai’.  Special care is being taken this time when the Yagasala Puja will commence on the first of February because in the last event 23 years ago in 1997, a  massive fire mishap happened  in the Yagasala that resulted in the death of 40 people. The death was caused  as a result of  stampede  triggered by escaping bewildered devotees. During the course of this mishap, the entire town was in agony and pain as people in thousands were inside the temple.  This time Fire Service Department has kept the fire trucks ready   close to the Yagasala for emergency. 

Besides, special arrangements are being made with respect to  crowd management and control by providing proper installation of barricades at selected places and other facilities for the devotees. Recently  a controversy came up over the language  to be  used in the kumbabishekam for the main deity. One group wanted this done only in Tamil.  The state government said this would be held as per Temple Agama Sastra - both in Tamil  and  Sanskrit that has been vogue for a pretty long time. Many devotees feel that the places of worship or sanctified places should not become a center of confrontation and controversy.   Thanjai Periyakoil Urimai Meetpu Kuzhu is going to continue the stir on the first of February   as they want only Tamil language  used  for the consecration ceremony.

Yesterday, as a prelude to major rituals associated with the big temple consecration, the flag mast made of teak wood imported from Myanmar,  was installed after 5 long hours of erection work. This flag mast (Dwajasthambam) is 40ft tall and the cost is around nine lakh rupees. The mast has Rudra Bhagam for 28.5 feet and the remaining part has equal portion of Brahma Bhagam and Vishnu Bhagam. The base is made of granite. Before installation, as it has been the temple custom for centuries, special pujas were performed to the mast by the temple priest. Later it will be covered with copper casing. Hoisting of temple flag marks the actual beginning of the major ceremony for that matter any Hindu temples. 
The consecration rituals began with the  conduct of Yjamana Anungyay. This was done in the main hall leading to the
garbagriha - sanctum of Peruvudayar  as the deity is referred to in chaste Tamil. The sanctum is closed for the time being for renovation work, so special prayers were conducted  to the small Shivalingam and goddess idol (Periyanayaki) kept in the main hall.

Yet another interesting feature is accompanied by musical instruments Nadaswaram (wind instrument)  and Tavil (drum), the official invitation for the major festival was taken around  the temple. Till 5th February certain temple rituals will be performed. Today (Tuesday) Ganapathy Homam and other rituals would be  held.  The priests and temple authorities say these rituals are  done with devotion and reverence as they are meant for the welfare of the country, Tamil Nadu state and the people.   On 31st of January, water from the river Vennar ( a tributary of the Cauvery  river) will be taken in pots  to the Yagasala in a procession. Pujas and prayers will be held till 5th of February and the time of consecration will be  9.30 am to 10 am. The holy water kept in the Yagasala will be poured on the kalasam (pots) atop the towers both small and big ones.  For the yesterday function various senior officials from the government of Tamil Nadu and Sri Babaji Bhonsale, hereditary  trustee of the Place Devasthanam (that manages 88 Hindu temples) were present. Many religious heads and mutts in the state  have been requested  to participate in the big ceremony and offer their services during the preparation work going on the temple premises.
The new Indian Express dated January 28, 2020; page 02:: ''New flag mast installed inside Big temple''