Posted on Dec 13, 2021
The Srirangam Temple is one of South India's most magnificent and illustrious temples. If Hindu history could speak for itself, it would still fall short of all the praises for the glorious chronicles attached to this sacred vaishnavite site.
Vaishnavism, a school of Hindu thought that dates all the way back to the 11th century in South India, owes a lot to it. Ramanuja, a great Indian theologian, was one of the most influential Vaishnavism exponents of all time. And the celebrations here are still a living example of that knowledge and insight into divinity that has been passed on through generations.
The Srirangam temple is more than just a temple; it's a temple town in its own right. It indeed holds the title of being the largest temple courtyard of India.
Seven circular, rectangular enclosures, known as Parakramas, form the basis of the Sapta-Prakaram pattern, a temple-centred habitation plan. The deity's sanctum is surrounded by tall and massive walls in these parakrams. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is an extraordinary example of the Temple-Town type that is unique to this region of the world.
The Srirangam Temple was built in a distinctive Dravidian style of architecture, and it is one of India's greatest examples of such architecture. It covers 156 acres and is huge in magnitude (63.131 hectares). According to some scholars, it is one of the world's largest operational temples.
Aside from its religious significance, the temple village is also a notable archaeological and epigraphical site, providing a historical window into early and mid-medieval South Indian society and culture.
Numerous inscriptions inside the temples reveal that it was not only the town's spiritual centre but also a major economic and charitable institution. It offered educational and hospital services on site, as well as a free kitchen.
The queen of Veera Vallaladeva, the Donar, during the reign of NarahariBhupala, the Hoysala king known as Veera NarasimhaII, commissioned the construction of this temple in 1232.
Sri Jayanthi, the temple's most important event, Sri Jayanthi is celebrated with great fanfare. On the eighth day of Tamil ashadha, this festival commemorates Lord Krishna's birth.
On this day, holy water is used to clean the Krishna, Nadagopan, and Yashoda idols. Festivals such as Sri Jayanthi are marked by painted idols, colourful procession and joyful shouting of devotees, making the temple feel as though it has been transported to another realm.
Among the eight self-created shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Srirangam is the most important. This temple is also the first and most important of 108 Vishnu temples ( also known as Divyadesams).
Not only that, the divine river Kaveri was blessed by Lord Vishnu to be like the garland in his neck after her deep penance. Since this temple is self-created and situated on the banks of river Kaveri, it symbolizes Lord Vishnu in his most beautiful and eighth incarnation: Lord Krishna.
To worship Lord Krishna, devotees would present buttermilk in little pots with special pastries to the goddess Tirukkuzhaluudina Pillai (Krishna). Srirangam is home to this sannathi, which is located near Kilimandapam.
Mudaliyandan, the famous Acharya who oversaw the administration of the Srirangam Temple during the time of Sri Ramanuja, was a staunch believer that Lord Ranganatha. Lord Ranganatha is the personification of Lord Krishna. As a result, Lord Sriranganatha receives all honours at Srirangam on SriJayanthi day.
On Srijayanthi, Krishna rides around Srirangam in a Pallaku the next day, offering Devotees drips of gingely oil. "Yennaivilayattu" is the term for this. Then Lord Ranganatha and his consorts march to Yadava Mandapam near Thirumanjana Cauveri in a procession.
Namperumal (the works of Sri Ramanuja) is dressed up in a Kilimalai (a garland consisting of parrots made of green leaves) in the evening. This Kilimalai is only worn on select occasions, such as Vaikunta Ekadasi day. Sathatha Vaishnavas, who have hereditary privileges, give this form of garland and are sighted on a ride on the temple elephant.