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Athirathram at Sukapuram in Kerala from March 20 to March 31, 2015 – The World’s Oldest Surviving Ritual – Athirathram Vedic Ritual

Athirathram, an ancient Vedi ritual, will be held from March 20 to March 31, 2015 at Dakshinamurthi Temple at Sukapuram near Edappal in Malappuram District in Kerala. It is also the world’s oldest surviving ritual.

What is Athirathram?

Vedic Yajna (Yajgya or sacrifice or ritual) is performed for the prosperity of human race through peaceful co-existence with nature by energizing the various forces in nature – especially sun. Agni, fire, that represents Sun, the Prathyaksha Brahman or Visible God, in Sanatana Dharma, is worshipped during the Yajna. This vedic ritual is known as Athirathram and is one of the world’s oldest surviving ritual. 

During the Athirathram, the Vedic rituals and yajnas performed during the period of the Vedic age will be recreated. For 12 days, one will be transported to the era of the Vedas and Upanishads. Today, the knowledge of Athirathram is only preserved by select Namboothiri (Brahmin) families in Kerala.

Athirathram invokes the abundance of the Universe through the recital of the all Vedas over 12 days. It is very rarely performed and is an opportunity to learn about how yajnas were conducted during the Vedic period.

Athirathram 2015 at Sukapuram

The aim of Athirathram 2015 is promotion of universal harmony, peace, prosperity and spiritual enlightenment, according to organizers.

Vedic scholar Brahmashri Kavumpuram Vasudeva Somayajippadu will be the Yajamana along with his wife Gouri Pathanadi. 

The important rituals will be taking place in a structure known as 'Pancha Pahrika' – it is in the shape of Garuda, the Vehicle or Vahana of Vishnu. It is constructed using 1000 bricks.

Eighteen Brahmin Vedic scholars (Ritwiks), 25 associates (Parikarmis) and 30 other scholars would participate in the Yajna

Only earthen pots and wooden implements are used in the yajna. Metal is totally avoided.

From the 10th day of the yajna, juice of a rare medicinal herb, somalatha, is offered to Agni.

 The three thatched sheds which constitute the Yagasala would be set afire at the end of the Yaga in a symbolic dedication to nature. 

During the Yajna a team of scientists will conduct research into the impact of the Vedic chants and the fire ritual on the atmosphere.