The temple town of Thiru Narayanapuram (Melkote) wore a festive look on Sunday last. The Vaira Mudi utsavam of Selva Pillai drew thousands of devotees from across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Located in Mandya District, 35 km north of Srirangapatna on the banks of the Cauvery, at the foot of Yadava Giri, Thiru Narayana Perumal temple in Melkote dates back to the Kretha Yuga and is referred to as Dakshina Badri.Thiru Narayanapuram is one of the four famous Swayambu Kshetrams, the other three being Srirangam, Kanchipuram and Tirupati.
Lord Rama, who had given his aradhana puja idol, Ranganatha, to the newly crowned Lanka King Vibheeshana, was left without an idol for his daily pujas. Brahma is said to have provided the idol of Selva Pillai to Rama who later passed this on to his sons, Lava and Kusa. When Kusa's daughter married a Yadava prince, this idol was given as part of the gifts and thus moved to the lunar dynasty from solar.
The story goes that Vaira Mudi (the diamond crown) belonging to Lord Paramapatha Nathan in Vaikuntam was stolen by Prahalada's son Virochana. Garuda managed to recover the crown and hand it over to Krishna.
This event of Garuda presenting the Vaira Mudi to Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran, the utsava deity, was enacted at the Thiru Narayana Perumal temple, this past Sunday. Narasaraja Bhattar had the honour of collecting the crown from Garuda and placing it on Lord Selva Pillai. This diamond crown had been brought from the Mandya Treasury (30 km from here), where it is kept under safe custody through the year.
Just after 8.30 p.m., Lord Selva Pillai Sampath Kumaran, seated on Garuda Vahanam and adorned with a glittering Vaira Mudi, was led in a procession around the four Mada streets to the accompaniment of Thiruvanthathi, the fourth set of verses of Iyarpa, and was returned to the vahana mantapam. Selva Pillai was then adorned with his second special thirukolam – the Raja Mudi thirukolam – as he went around the prakaram inside the temple at 4.30 a.m. This crown was presented to him by Raja Wodeyar, the first king of the Mysore dynasty.
One of the other highlights at this temple was the Araiyar Sevai. This is one of the four Vishnu temples in India where Araiyar Sevai is still performed, the others being Srirangam, Srivilliputhur and Azhwar Thirunagari. At 5.30 a.m. on Monday, Araiyar presented sacred verses on Selva Pillai as he led the Lord back to the sanctum bringing to an end the Vaira Mudi utsavam.
Selva Pillai story
The utsava deity Rama Priyan got the name thanks to Ramanuja. The idol was taken away by a Sultan and the preceptor went in search of it. The Sultan displayed several idols and asked him to identify Rama Priyan. A puzzled Ramanuja called, “Adiyen, Vaareer En Selva Pillai.” The Lord, as a baby, ran up and sat on Ramanuja's lap. The name stayed. Ramanuja stayed here for 12 years and set up processes for daily pujas, rituals and annual festivals.
Ashta Theertotsavam during Raja Mudi Brahmotsavam in Karthigai, Thai Punarvasu festival commemorating Ramanuja's arrival in Thiru Narayanapuram and the nine-day Krishnaraja Thirunal are a few of the other important utsavams that are celebrated here.
It is believed that childless couples who bathe in the Kalyani Pushkarani for eight days and offer prayers to Thiru Narayanan are sure to be blessed with progeny.
How to reach
From Chennai, one can take the Mysore Kaveri Express to Pandava Pura and a Tumkur bound bus to Jakkanahalli junction (about 15 km from Pandavapura) to reach Melkote. Auto fare from Jakkanahalli to Melkote temple (about 5kms) is Rs. 60-75.
One can also take Shatabdi express to Mysore and reach Melkote (about 50 km) by road via Srirangapatna and Pandavapura.
From Bangalore, one can reach Melkote in two hours (about 135 km) by road via Mandya-Jakkanahalli.