Ramanatha Swamy temple, Tamil Nadu Maha Kumbabisekam (consecration)

20-01-2016:Kumbabishekam Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple. Rameswaram; Holy water being sprinkled on devotees. www.thehindu.com

. Rameswaram Ramanatha Swamy temple prakaram, longest in Indiapilgrimaide.com

Invariably all big Hindu temples undertake a complete renovation  work every 12 years or so before consecration known as  Kumbabiskekam. This term is widely used in Saivite temples dedicated to lord Shiva. It is a process of spiritual rejuvenation of temples done at certain interval in order to preserve the sanctity and spiritual prowess of the presiding deities. The beneficiaries will be the devotees. It is a tedious process involving various stages. Every ritual is unique in its own way. Two most  important rituals are setting up of Yagasala, where the learned pundits chant mantrs in Sanskrit, propitiating various gods  before the Agnikundam - holy fire in the specially built pits. This ritual lasts for several days. The finale is the pouring of holy water kept in the Yagasala on the kalasams ( mostly 5 alloyed metal pots) atop the temple towers or gopurams.

The Maha Kumbabishekam  was  held  at the world famous   Ramanathaswamy Temple (important Jyothirlinga temple), Rameswaram in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on January 20, 2016  after a long  gap of 14 years.  Prior to this important major event, the‘Mudhal Kaala puja,’was  performed  on  January 16th Saturday at 6.30 p.m,  marking the commencement of Vedic rituals for the mega event.  More than 250 ‘Sivachariars’  from various temples in the State, performed  this pooja in the ''Parivara'' yagasalas. This involves eight 'kaala pujas' and ‘yagasala pujas’ in 108 ‘yaga kundams or  gundams.’ For the consecration ceremony two yagasalas were established - the 'Paradana yagasalas’ for 61 other ‘yaga gundams’  and the 'Parivara yaga salas for 47 ‘vediyal gundams’. The tradition has been that when the  ‘Kaala pujas, are being performed, the Sivachariars would perform yagasala pujas at 108 yaga gundams and the temple priests would perform  Palayalayams’ in the garbagraha (sanctum sanctorum). The arrangements were made by the temple authorities under the control of the state government.
Ramanatha Swamy temple, Rameswaram, TN;Temple  Festival.  www.rameswaramtemple.tnhrce.in
The year-long renovation works has given a face lift to India's one the most important temples. The southern and northern gopurams were added recently. The Sringeri Sharada Peetham, based in Karnataka state under the head of the His Holiness Sringeri Sankarachariar has special jurisdiction over the temple, built the south tower - Rajagopuram (91 feet in height)  last year and also the full granite mangalagopuram in front of Amman shrine. The north Rajagopuram (126 feet in height) was built by private donations. For the first time, these new towers are to be consecrated and these additions will enhance the grandeur and majesty of this huge temple complex. The nine-tier tower on the eastern and  five-tier tower at western entrance  are the earliest ones, dating back to centuries. The majestic eastern tower was first built between 1907 and 1925, and the first Ashtabandana Kumbabishekam was held in 1825 and later in  1947 and 1975.

On the day of consecration, the abishekam (anointing) was done at the same time on all 22 vimanas, four main towers (rajagopurams) and Mangala gopuram at 10.15 am local time by Shivacharyas in the midst of chanting of holy mantras . Thousands of people gathered in all main Car streets around the temple and other places witnessed this rare event with religious fervor. Special sprinklers fixed atop the nine towers were used to sprinkle holy Thertham (water) drawn from Sethumadhava kulam (water tank) on the devotees down below. After this holy event, maha abishekam was done at the shrines of Swamy, Ambal (goddess) and others. Earlier this kind consecration was done in February, 2001. In the evening the long drawn event came to a joyous  end  with the celestial wedding of Lord Ramanatha Swamy with Goddess Parvatha Vardhani, followed by silver car (chariot) procession. 
Rameswaram Ramanatha Swamy temple.www.hellotravel.com
Tight security was in place throughout the religious ceremony  in view of terrorist threats.

Some important facts:

01. This temple is also one of the twelve Jyothirlinga temples, where Shiva is worshiped in the form of a Jyotirlingam (English: pillar of light). The temple was glorified by   Nayanars (Saivite saints) and among them  Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar were prominent.

02. Kings of  the 12th century - Pandya Dynasty  and rulers of the Jaffna kingdom  made additions in the temple.

03.The temple has the credit of having the longest corridor - prakaram among all Hindu temples  of India.

04.The presiding  deity here is Ramanatha Swamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam. There are two lingams inside the sanctum - one built by Goddess Sita, consort of god-incarnate Sri Rama from sand; the other being Viswalingam.

05.Tradition has it that Vishwalingam brought from Mt. Kailash by Hanuman should be worshiped first.

06.There are sixty-four Tīrthas (holy water bodies) in and around the island of Rameswaram According to Skanda Purana, twenty-four of them are important and bathing in these Tīrthas is an important part of pilgrimage to Rameswaram.  Twenty-two of the Tīrthas are within the temple premises. The number 22 indicates the 22 arrows in Rama's quiver. 

life size stone images on the pillars.Rameswaram Ramanatha Swamy temple, Tamil Nadu  .hotelnambi.in