Vaikunta Ekadesi festival, 2018 at Srirangam Ranganathar temple - the most important annual temple event!!

Lord Ranganathar emerging out of Paramapada vasal, Srirangam The Hindu

:Srirangam rajagopuram.Wikimedia Commons

Vaikunta Ekadasi is the most important temple festival at Sri Vishnu temples across South India and in particular, in Tamil Nadu. All Vaishnava temples in this state wear a festive look during the festival time with crowds of Bhakta thronging the temples to get blessed by the main deity. It is the most important festival at the famous Srirangam Sri Ranganatha temple, the largest functional temple in the world.  Here, the festival is  celebrated for twenty one days during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December - January). This year the opening of Paramapadavasal scheduled on the 18th of December is a great event and this colorful festival that is conducted with religious fervor and avidity attracts devotees across Tamil Nadu and other places. Previous day 17th Dec. Mohini Alangaram is a great event as part of this festival. The temple management and the local civic body had already begun the arrangement for the smooth conduct of the long-drawn festival. Earlier, Panthakal naduthal, a ritual prelude to this annual  festival was held in the 3rd week of October, 2018. Senior temple priests set the Panthakal (wooden pole) near the 1000 pillar mandapam after conducting specified puja; it is the beginning of the festive mood in this temple town. Additional buses will be made available for the devotees to arrive at the venue and depart without any hassle. Mobile medical teams and dispensaries will be working round the clock between Dec. 17th and 19th for medical emergency.

Deities kept in the Kannadi (mirror) maligai, Srirangam Ekadasifestival.

Srirangam Ranganatha SwamiPinterest
This  Vaikunta Ekadesi festival is divided into two halves of  ten days each as "Pagal pathu" and then ten days (actually ten nights) as "Ra pathu".  It is a set of centuries-old rituals associated with this temple and the elaborate tradition is not broken. This long festival will  commence with Thiruneduthandakam (it was held on 7th Dec.) and would continue till  28th December, the final day on which the festival will come to an end with Namazhawar Motcham (the saint reaching the heavens). On Vaikunta Ekadesi day (18th December) in the early morning hours, Lord Ranganatha will proceed in a procession through Paramapada Vasal (commonly called opening of Paramapada vasal or Sorga vasal) and arrive at Thirumamani Mandapam in the thousand pillared hall. This is the major event among all festivals conducted in the Temple.

Sri Ranganatha is referred as Sri Rangaraja during the occasion. He conducts his Divine Durbar in that huge hall. Nalayira Dhivyaprabandham (the sacred collection of 4000 verses in Tamil) is recited throughout the day.  The Lord gets back to the temple late in the night. Devotees observe fast throughout the day and keep vigil during the whole night. Considered as the foremost among the 108 Divyadesam temples patronized by the Tamil  Vaishvavite saints/poets Azhwars, the Ekadasi festivities, during the long-drawn 22 days attract roughly 3  to 4 lakh pilgrims and the number goes up every year.

This year the major event - opening of paramapadavasal is to  be held on December 18.