Gates of Heaven opened, Srirangam Ranganathar temple, TN - an age old festival

Srirangam paramapada vaasal (Closed)
Vishnu (namperuman) emerging from Paramapada vaasal.
Almost/practically ever day there will be some kind of festival or ritual at Sri Ranganathar temple of Srirangam,  reverberating bhakti year round.  No where in India will you find a Hindu temple where bhakti/ true devotion to God is the main message of the day.  Among the festivals, the long one is Vaikunta Ekadasi, a yearly festival that is celebrated with religious fervor. It falls in the month of Margazhi (15th Dec to 14 Jan). Today  (6th January) being the  annual Vaikunta Ekadasi festival, people in lakhs  descended on Srirangam town, near Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu to be part of this major annual event at Srirangam Ranganathar temple dedicated to God Sri Vishnu.   
Sri Ranganathar temple, Srirangam, TN. pirest com
Unable to resist the benign grace and  charm of the lord on this occasion, devotees  had been waiting in the pretty long serpentine line since last night itself to get into the temple. The state government provided special security management to control the huge crowd and to avoid mishaps or any threats, etc lots of police personnel were posted inside as well as outside this sprawling temple.  More then 200 sanitation workers and innumerable Health deptt. personnel were on duty for medical aid and to check the quality of drinking water being supplied there. Besides, numerous big LED displays  were placed at vantage points  for the benefit of devotees to watch the main event - ''Soorgavaasal Thruappu'' (opening of Heaven's gate). The paramapada vassal would be opened around 4- 30  am in the morning (6th of January, 2020) and the devotees wanted to see the lord cross the 'gate of Heaven'. This popular temple complex, very closely associated with  the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism,  is the first of the ''108 Divyadesam shrines'' sung in praise of the lord by the Tamil Vaishnava saints Azhwars. The reason why Hindu devotees throng the Vishnu temples on this day is this Ekadshi is  called Mokshada Ekadasi, - the one that will bestow  you  with salvation (free from  tedious birth and death cycles). On this day in the early morning Lord Vishnu emerges from his inner abode - garbagriha (sanctum)  and passes through the Paramapada vaasal or Swarga vaasal (gate of Heaven) to bless the humanity with peace, prosperity and moksha (salvation). The paramapada vaasal on the north side of the temple opens once a year on this particular auspicious day and devotees pass though the gate only after the lord has crossed it earlier. The belief is all positive things will happen here on and all  negative forces will get lost while passing through the paramapada vassal. It will be kept open for the devotees from 5.30 am  till 10 pm.
Sri Ranganathar temple, Srirangam, TN.
 On this day the main tower, Rajagopurm finely decorated by flower garlands, etc donated by the florists in this town. This festival is a long-drawn one - 21 long days (the Adhyayana Utsavam) non-stop. Today raapathu (Irapatthu) (10 nights) rituals begin and there will be  Moolavar Muthangi seva (cloth woven with pearls) for the main deity (Moolavar), and  Rathnangi seva  for Namperumal  and the idol  will be in the Thirumamani Asthana Mandapam  around 8 am. Same night begins the second half of the ritual - recitation of remaining 3000 devotional hymns from Nalayera Divyaprabandham. This is done by a sect of Vaishnavites called Ariyars who engage in slow rhythmic dancing and singing before the deity (Utchavar). Ayriyar sevai, first initiated by Nathamuni (10th century), has been in place at this temple for centuries and they have unbroken tradition. As part of this seva ''Veena'' musical instrument   will be played by the Ariyar(s). In this regard old timers like me may recall the dedicated kainkarya done by Prof. Rangarajan of National College, Tiruchi long ago. He was active during the Ariyar sevai in the 1960s and 1970s and continued this great service till his old age. 
This is a Punya shetram where 11 azhawars had their  Mangalasanam. As for Madurakavi Azhwar, he sang in praise of his Guru  Namazhwar.  ''Namazhwar Moksham''  (reaching heavens) is a great final event on the 21st day. All the rituals in this temple are being followed as devised by saint Sri Ramanujar and they have  been around for more then 900 years.