Sunday, April 17, 2011

12 day Athirathram ritual ends with thundering rains #chormedia ignores it

12 day Athirathram ritual ends with thundering rains #chormedia ignores it: "
apr 16th, 2011 CE

read sandeepvarma's blog for good details. also, for the astronomical significance of the falcon-shaped fire altar (described in the sulbasutras of at least 3500 years ago), read subhash kak's works.

a genuine miracle, this rain in sweltering kerala (meenachood: the heat of meenam, the just-concluded month of pisces, is a metaphor for excess in malayalam).

of course since it did not have a marketing machine behind it, the #paidmedia paid no attention.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: sri

Narration of day to day account of the ritual is in this blog



I visited the venue twice and also the 12th day yesterday. This is
really a marvellous achievement and successful completion invoking
Varuna Bhagawan also and heavy rains. May this action bring peace and
prosperity to everyone in the world.
from: P.V.Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011 at 12:37 IST

I was there for the event. Have live blogged the event you can read
the details here
from: sandeep varma
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011 at 14:08 IST

We were here during eleventh and twelfth day, until the main rituals
were carried off. It was very magnificent and also we could feel the
positive energy. Everyone should take part in this, which is being
done for our EARTH's goodness.
from: Balakrishnan Dharmaraj
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011 at 14:51 IST

I was there with my family. We witnessed the power of Veda on the
Nature.The wind and heavy rain at 9.50pm yesterday are the instances.
I was surprised. What a wonderful experience! 'Loka samastha sukhino
bhavanthu' My our great culture give way to the prosperity and peace
to the whole world.
from: Santhosh.K.B
Posted on: Apr 16, 2011 at 15:09 IST

Athirathram ritual concludes

Panjal , Saturday 16 April 2011: About 200,000 people watched in utter
astonishment as the starry night suddenly turned cloudy and a heavy
downpour, accompanied by strong winds, drenched the ‘yagasala’ altar
in this Kerala village before and after it was set afire Friday to
mark the ceremonial end of Athirathram, the ancient Vedic fire ritual.

Rain appeared miraculously because the weather throughout the day was
blistering hot and dry and the sky remained starry and clear in the
evening. It changed in five minutes as the sky turned dark and a
strong wind built up at around 9.30 p.m.

All areas in the village of Panjal in Thrissur and also in Kochi, the
port city, received the rain in a repeat to the 1975 Athirathram, said
the organisers.

‘The rain was caused by the strong convection current generated by the
smoke rising from the altar and the continuous chanting of the
mantras,’ V.P.N. Namboodiri, head of the research team of the Panjal
Athirathram, told news agency.

The altar was set on fire at 10 p.m. followed by a fresh wave of rain.
Nearly 200,000 people had gathered on the concluding evening of the
4000-year-old fire ritual. They erupted into thunderous applause as
the first drops of the rain fell.

The 12-day fire ritual for peace, purification, fertility, health and
rain began April 4. It was organised by a local non-profit group
Varthathe Trust to revive dying Vedic traditions in the country.

Panjal is one of the key bastions of the ‘Samavedis’ and ‘Rigvedis’ -
practitioners of the ancient Hindu scriptures Sama Veda and the Rig
Veda - who have kept the two living traditions of Vedic chants and
‘yagnya’ (worship of elements) alive for nearly 4,000 years. The
village was host to four major Athirathrams in 1901, 1918, 1956 and

When Lord Indra answered the call of Vedas

Panjal (Kerala), April 15 (IANS) The primal Vedic chants that ring
across the rolling greens of this village in Thrissur district are a
ceremonial invitation to Lord Indra, the god of rain, to join the
ancient fire ritual of Athirathram.

Towards the evening, thunder rumbles in the distance, almost as if
Lord Indra is responding to the call of the 18 Vedic priests. And it
rains. The priests have been chanting round-the-clock for the last
three days to build up the energy level.

Panjal, 30 km from Thrissur town, was teeming with humanity on the
11th day of the ritual Thursday evening. For most tourists, it was a
cultural and spiritual pilgrimage covering the Kerala Kala Mandalam,
near the venue of the ritual, and the Guruvayoor temple in Thrissur

The village of 32,000 people has drawn nearly 300,000 visitors in the
last 10 days. The footfall is likely to touch 500,000 Friday when the
sprawling 380-square metre venue is set afire to mark the end of the
12-day fire ritual for peace, purification, fertility, health and

It has been organised by a local non-profit group Varthathe Trust to
revive dying Vedic traditions in the country.

Panjal is one of the key bastions of the 'Samavedis' and 'Rigvedis' -
practitioners of the ancient Hindu scriptures Sama Veda and the Rig
Veda - who have kept the two living traditions of Vedic chants and
'yagnya' (worship of elements) alive for nearly 4,000 years.

Five families each of Rig Veda practitioners and Sama Veda
practitioners preserve the tradition.

The village has played host to four major Athirathrams in 1901, 1918,
1956 and 1975. In 1975, noted Dutch Indologist Frits Staal documented the ritual in a
two-volume Vedic treatise -- "Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire

Staal, 81, who has returned this time, watched the proceedings from
behind a barricaded enclosure. "Not much has changed. The ritual is
alive and well. But it is a real pleasure to be back to Thrissur," he

A team from Harvard University led by professor Micheal Witzel is also
studying the Sama Vedic chants. "It is one of the oldest living Vedic
traditions and has not changed much," Witzel told IANS.

The ancient fire rite is an elaborate avatar of 'agnihotram' and
'somayaga' - fire worship and offering of the 'soma' rasa to the
ritual fire - prescribed in the Vedas.

It's said to symbolise the creation of the world with a ball of fire
from the big bang, scientists studying the phenomenon say.

Athirathram is the most complex of the Vedic fire 'yagnas', first
documented in 1100 BC and continued till 600 BC across the northern
Indian river plains after which it disappeared from the northern part
of the country.

A Vedic community of Namboodiris Brahmins in south India, however, clung to it.

"It combines chants and rites from the Rig Veda, Sama Veda and Yajur
Veda," said Nellikaatilmamanul Vasudevan Namboodiri, one of the oldest
Sama Veda practitioners of Panjal.

Yajamana Ramanujan Akkhithiripad, a priest from Chembra in Mallapuram
district, presided over the rituals assisted by a team of 17 Vedic
priests. Ramanujan's wife - known as the 'yajman pathni', has been
camping at the 'yagshala' - the venue of the rite - for the 12 days
with her husband as part of the rituals.

The yajamana (presiding priest) and his wife carry the scared fire
home in pots and keep it burning for the rest of their lives,
Vasudevan Namboodiri said.

At the heart of the ritual is the sacrificial fire that burns in a
blaze of fragrant wood and herbal smoke. The ritual hearth resembles
the white-crested red eagle found in the area.

"Sighting an eagle is a good omen," says priest Sivakaran Namboodiri.

However, the ritual that generated maximum curiosity was the pressing
of Soma stalks or 'somaabhishavam' on the 10th day to be offered as
oblation to the fire god Agni. The 'soma' - an intoxicating creeper that grows in the Western Ghats -
is ferried to the venue in special donkey-drawn 'soma' carts in a
recreation of the Vedic era.

Over 300 women, decked as brides, partook of the special offering,
'soumyam, (prasadam)', a dish of clarified butter and rice -- for
healthy childbirth and conjugal happiness. And an 'annaydanam (food
offering)' kitchen fed 40,000 people everyday with traditional Kerala
platters of ponni rice, poreal, avial, sambhar, pickles and payasam.

12-day 'Athirathram' comes to an end

Twelve days of ‘chanting of mantras’ and ‘performing homam’ at the
panoramic village of Panjal, near Shoranur, came to an end on Friday

At the end of 'Athirathram', an ancient Vedic ritual that is
considered to be the ultimate invocation of scriptures, the Yajamanan
(Puthillathu Ramanujan Akkithiripad) and Yajamanapathni
(Dhanyapathanaadi) of the ritual ceremonially left the Yagashala
carrying the fire from the altar to their house, where they would keep
it burning.

As thousands of people watched, the Yagashala in the vicinity of
Panjal Lakshmi Narayana temple was ceremonially set on fire at 10 p.m.
marking the conclusion of the 12-day ritual.

Those present at the venue claimed that a ‘garuda’ (eagle) was seen
flying over the ‘Yagasala’ early in the day, which experts claimed a
good omen.

Heavy rain that fell over the area delayed the final rituals for
sometime. By letting members of various castes and communities to
witness the Vedic rites, the Athiratram is said to have reflected the
spirit of the changing times in Kerala.

Lakhs of people witnessed the Yagam, which was once considered the
preserve of the Brahmins. The ritual is aimed at promoting universal
brotherhood, peace, solidarity, prosperity, and spiritual

Panjal was the venue for many Athirathrams including the one that was
held in 1975, under the leadership of Frits Staal, Indologist and
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and South/Southeast Asian Studies at
the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Staal recalled the willingness of Namboodiri scholars in sharing
their knowledge. The choice of the venue is in line with the
geographic and Vaasthu principles. The Yagashala is uniquely
positioned to imbibe the energy of the Sun, which has made Panjal the
venue for key Yagas in Kerala in the past.

The presence of many Samavedi gurus also makes Panjal a preferred
site. Two families of Sama Veda experts, Nellikattu Mana and
Muttathukattil Mana, are based in Panjal.

Athirathram is believed to have originated in the 10th century BC and
practised until the 6th century BC.

The preparation for Athiratram takes many months and involves making
a large number of mud vessels and wooden items. The eagle-shaped altar
(chithi) of the Yagashala has been made of 1,110 specially designed

The Athirathram 2011 was hosted by the Ottappalam-based Varthathe Trust.

A research wing that was constituted as part of Athiratram has been
conducting several experiments to study the affects of the Yaga on
dynamics of Nature, biosphere, and troposphere. The key findings of
the scientific studies were expected to be released by May 15.