Srirangam Ranganathar temple, TN Karthigai Deepam Chokka Panai (2023) and Srimuga pattayam rituals

 Karthigai Deepam  is an inspiring Hindu festival more observed in Shiva and Shakti temples than in Vishnu temples. Light, symbol of knowledge, positivity and negation of negativity  gets importance in the Tamil month of Karthigai.  Earthen lamps are used as they are associated with divinity and at night, they, in large numbers  placed at various  places, sparkle like little stars in the nightly sky.  

Srirangam Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple is the 3rd largest temple in the world after the largest Hindu temple recently built in New jersey, USA. But,  it is still the 2nd largest functional Hindu temple in the world after the one in New jersey.  Foremost in the  108 Divya Desam shrines  glorified by Tamil Azhwar  saints in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandam,  Karthigai Deepam festival is held every year and it is called Vishnu or Perumal Deepam as per Vaishnava Sambrathayam. Chokkapanai ritual  is a 

Srirangam Karthigai deepam Chokka panai, TN

fascinating one observed at the Srirangam temple  as part of  Karthigai Deepam festival. Lighting of  Chokka Panni on the temple premises  in the open space or elsewhere on that day highlights the elimination of ego or evil thoughts and  the spread of positive energy and retention of dharmic thoughts when facing hard time.  

Karthigai deepam Chokka panai  Srirangam, TN

Ranganathar temple, Srirangam,

For  the Deepam festival at Ranganathar temple, Muhurthakaal ceremony was already held  recently with proper puja and rituals to have  a  Chokka Panai pandal (height 20 ft, width 5 ft) installed near the karthigai mandap. At many temples of Shiva, Vishnu or Shakti Chokka Panai  is an important ritual of lighting bonfire.  

At the Ranganathar temple, before Namperumal  leaving the sanctum  to witness Chokka Panai event ,  Uttama Nambi swamigal edai vilakku edukkum event will take place at 6 pm and the venue is near the gold-plated flag-pole. The temple administration on behalf of temple will honor Uttama Nambi swamigal. 

Srirangam, Perumal adorned with herbal

At 8 pm Emperumal with Kathir alangaram made of herbal leaves, etc., will be taken out to the Karthigai mandap in a palanquin. The lord will go round the Chokka Pani and then proceed to the shrine of Chakrathazhwar at the other end. Namperumal' ll wait till the Chokka Pani is lit at 8.30 after special pujas, are  performed by the temple priests.

After witnessing this event, Namperumal will be taken to Thayer (consort) shrine through Nandavanam Thoppu. After Thiruvanthi Kappu event (to get rid of evil eyes/spells), the lord will be taken to Santhanu Mantapa (also known as Azhagia Manavalan Thirumandapam  around 9.15 pm. It is close to Annukkan gate (vaasal).

At 9.45 pm an important ritual associated with Vaikunta Ekadashi takes place. The ritual is called Srimuga pattayam -in which before Emperumal details of  arrangements regarding upcoming - Vaikunta  Ekadashi  Thiruvizha (21 long day festival here) will be read with certain norms. Following Thirukaithala Seva at 10.15 Namperumal will be taken back to Moolasthanam (Garbhagriha)..

All these rituals take place in the presence of the HR & CE officials. It is said the venues of some rituals may change, depending on the prevailing circumstances.

.Chokka panai ritual at Srirangam

The  chokka panai is a differently shaped mass of   numerous  dry palm leaves or cut trunks and numerous thin dry logs of wood closely tied together. It may contain camphor in order to set it ablaze.  Sometimes,  it may include a dry hollow palm tree trunk inside stuffed with charcoal powder and husk (umi), etc.  Shaivites, believe Chokka Panai is a small version of Maha Deepam of Arunachaleswar of Tiruvannamalai - a giant  pillar of fire as he appeared before Gods Vishnu and Brahma as mentioned in the Hindu Mythology. 

 In the case of Vaishnavites, it is called Vishnu or Perumal deepam and the lighting of the lamp symbolizes the incarnation of Vishnu as sage Vamana, a dwarf who had pushed demon ruler Bali to the Patala loka. 

Chokka Panai 2023  is in the evening of November 26  and the festival is observed for three days at Srirangam. Close to Dindigul every year at Thadikompu  Soundararajaperuml Temple karthigai deepam festival is  celebrated with laksa deepa Aradhana - lighting of 100000 earthen lamps in the temple. Thirukoodi deepam from the sanctum is taken  to the Rajagpuram where Deepam will be lit. The final event is lightning Chokka Panai near the Rajagopuram.