Holy flag-hoisting ceremony (Kodiyettram) of Hindu temples - some engrossing facts.

Flag hoisting Sundararaja perumal temple, Madurai

Above image:  Flag hoisting ceremony  annual Aadi Brahmotsavam Festival' (July) at Sundararaja perumal temple, Madurai without devotees. During COVID 19 time only priests and a few people attended the ceremony. .......

Have you ever thought why historical Hindu temples have a flag of their  own and why it is hoisted on the flag-pole during festival time? Just like countries and states that have a symbolic representative flag,  each popular and historical temple has a flag symbolizing the affiliation of the temples - Vishnu or Shiva temple, etc.  Most of the Vaisnavite temple flags have an image of Garuda, the vahana of lord Vishnu. Like wise Shiva temples have a flag with the image of the lord's vahana (mount) Nandi (bull). From the temple flag we can get some idea about the deity consecrated  in the sanctum.

In Indian culture, flags  associated with divinity represent  upliftment and positivity, raising confidence level and getting rid of ignorance. It is also a symbol of victory.  In the Kurukshetra war Pandava  warrior Arjuna fought the Kauravas  from his chariot that carried the flag - Dhwaj with the image of god  Hanuman atop. This gave him an easy assurance of victory over his enemies.  It has long been held by devout Hindus that the flags installed in the holy sanctified places  will not only  protect the temple but the entire  surrounding areas.  Saffron flag is widely used in the northern states  and it represents the rays of  rising sun, which dispels the darkness and brings in light - a ray of hope for the troubled people.

Some gods in the Hindu pantheon have distinctive flags invariably displaying the image of their mount (Vahana). For example  Vishnu - Garuda vahana, Shiva - Bull (Nandi), Ganapati - Mouse (in Tamil Munchooru), Karthikaya (Muruga) - Peacock (in Tamil Mayil), Goddess Durga- Lion. 

With reference to Vishnu temple, according to legends the Garudazhwar  war (Garuda flag) on the Dwajasthabam implies  a celestial invitation to a galaxy of Gods, Astha Dikpalakas, Saptha Rushis, Saptha Maruttas, Pancha Bhutas and entire humanity to participate in the Brahmotsavams.   

Dhwajarohanamthe ritual of temple flag-hoisting  is an integral part of temple festivals and  is done with religious fervor by the temple priests  amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras of the templeIt  is the  ceremony on the first day, when a flag with an image of  Garuda (the vehicle of Vishnu) or Nandi (bull - vahana of Shiva)  is hoisted on the  Dwajasthambha of  the temple. It is a  symbolic invitation to the Hindu deities to attend the festival and bless the devotees.

According to  the Sanatana tradition, the flag is considered a representation of local  culture  and positive  energy.  Associated with religious events and divinity, there are some parameters that need to be followed  with respect to  the religious flag to be hoisted in religious functions.

Some interesting facts about hoisting of  temple flag:

01.All Hindu temples - Devasthana or Devalaya that follow the norms of Agama Shastras do not have a flag atop the tower  

02. But in north Indian states,  on top of the temple (often called Mandir) flag is a regular feature  and it flutters on all days. 

03. Mandirs of northern states like  Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh, etc.,  have saffron flags, a legacy of the  Maratha Empire.

04. In a mandir of northern states, which is different from south Indian temples, rituals are based on the Puranas and there is no archaka or temple priest in the sanctum/ sanctuary to conduct puja.  Irrespective of community including woman any person can perform puja in the sanctum, but he must be clean and taken morning head bath. . 

05.In the south Indian temples where  rituals are based on  Agama or Tantric tradition,  pujas are conducted only by trained priests -mostly from Brahmin community. There is no flag atop the temple spire. Instead, the specified temple flag is hoisted on a special flag pole called Dwajasthambham and flies  during the festive period. 

06. It has long been a temple tradition to hoist the flag during festive time on the flag-pole -Dwaja Stambha which lies on the same axis along with the temple entrance and the inner sanctuary-garbhagriha.

07. Flag-hoisting  heralds the commencement of a major festival in that temple and it serves as a message for the local people about the festival.

08. The flag is  hoisted  before the commencement of a festival and it will be lowered on the final day of the festivity. On both occasions the ritual will be done with devotion in the midst of chanting mantras by the archagas. The flag-pole will be decorated with flowers, etc., on such special occasions. 

09. It is mandatory that both flag-hoisting and lowering will be done on an auspicious day at auspicious time only by the temple priests.

10. When the temple flag is on the Dwajasthamnha, it implies the temple is in on a festive mode and the devotees must enter the sanctified place with clean mind without ego and  focus their mind on the god, so that they can get rid of the negativity and baser feelings. As for the people associated with the temple, they  must conduct  the rituals with care and should have regular bath and completed morning ablution before entering the temple premises. 

11.Temple flag should be hoisted at other time except early morning.

12. It must be accompanied by chanting of mantras and Mangala vadhyam. 

13. The holy flag with divine symbol must be kept reverentially in a secluded place on the temple premises. 

14. In a few temple like the Andal temple (dedicated to Vishnu)  of Srivilliputhur, Tamil Nadu  the divine flag will be taken around the Maada streets before flag-hoisting ceremony. 

15. The kodimaram -Dwajasthambham must be properly cleaned and decorated before flag-hoisting. 

16. Since Dhwajarohanam is an innovation to God, it should be done on an auspicious day and time. No compromise is made on the timing. 

Titumala Balaji templ. Tirumalatirupatitemple.wordpress.com

Above image:  Thirumala Lord Venkateswara temple:  Dwajarohanam marks the beginning of Nine day long festival; it is the first traditional religious ceremony which is being observed during the annual Salakatla brahmotsavams. Dhwajarohanam takes place normally near the Nadimi Padi Kavili inside the temple complex and the temple priests will hoist  the holy Garuda flag on the flag-pole in the morning  amidst mangala vaidyams and in the holy presence of utsava idols of Sri Malayappaswamy and his consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi.  As part of the Brahmotsavam the utchava murthy of lord Venkateswara - Malayappa Swamy  comes out of his abode every day in the morning and evening to give darshan to his devotees on special mounts - vahanas.........

Madurai Meenakshi temple,.indiatimes.com

Above image: Madurai Meenakshi temple:  Chithirai festival,  April 2022  began on the premises of Meenakshi Amman temple amid a sea of devotees. The ‘kodimaram’ (flag-pole) venue was decorated beautifully with flowers.... 

Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram thehindu.com

Above image: The holy temple flag  was hoisted at the Ambal Sannidhi in Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram before the beginning of  the annual Adi Thirukalyanam celebrations  - a six day  event . The  priests would conduct special pujas and aarathis daily during the celebrations for the presiding deities Ramanathaswamy and Parvathavardhini Ambal respectively......

Thandayathapani temple, palanu, TN .palani.in

Above image: The annual Palani Thaipoosam (January) Flag Hoisting at the popular  Palani Murugan Temple dedicated to Dhandayathapani swamy....... 

Andal Temple,Srivilliputhur, TN.   thehindu.com

Above image:  Srivilliputhur Andal temple: The annual (march) 10-day-long festival of celestial wedding of Goddess Andal with Lord Rengamannar (Vishnu) will begin with the hoisting of temple flag. This event  takes place on on the occasion of ‘Uthiram’ of Tamil month Pangun......i.