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Dhanurmasam At Tirumala – Importance - Festivals - Pujas - Change In Daily Rituals Tirupati Balaji Temple In Dhanurmasa

Numerous rituals, pujas and festivals are observed in Dhanurmasa at Tirumala – Tirupati Balaji Temple. Dhanurmasa (mid December to mid January) is considered as highly auspicious for the devotees of Lord Vishnu. The beginning of Dhanurmasam is marked by the transit of the Sun into ‘Dhanu’ rashi. This is also called ‘Dhanus Sankramana’.

Reason For Importance Of Dhanurmasam In Tirupati

As per Hinduism, Devas (demigods) wake up early in the morning during this month. They perform special prayers to Sri Mahavishnu during the auspicious period of ‘Brahma Muhurta’, one and half hours before sunrise.

Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says - ‘Maasaanaam Maarga Seershoham....’ I manifest more in Margashirsha masam among the different months of the year.

Worshipping Lord Vishnu on a single day during Dhanurmasam is equal to worshipping Vishnu with devotion for 1000 years. Special worship is conducted in all ancient Vishnu shrines throughout South India and some parts of North India. The holy festival ‘Vaikunta Ekadasi’ is celebrated on an Ekadasi during the bright half of Dhanurmasam.

Importance - Festivals - Pujas - Change In Daily Rituals Tirupati Balaji Temple In Dhanurmasa

Dhanurmasa Aradhana At Tirupati Balaji Temple

Special rituals are offered to Lord Srinivasa at Tirumala Hill shrine. For the entire 30 days of Dhanurmasam, Lord Srinivasa is worshipped as Lord Krishna.

During the commencement of Dhanurmasam, at the specified time, Lord Venkateshwara is offered with special Thomala Seva without Seva Kalam by Jeeyar Ghoshti (without reciting any pasurams from Divya Prabhandam unlike normal days). This is also called as ‘Mooga Thomala (Silent Thomala)’. This is because it is at this time, Lord Vishnu wakes up and this time is Brahma Muhurtha for Devathas.

Important Changes in Daily Rituals In Dhanurmasam

The most prominent change in rituals are Suprabhata Seva, which is the first ritual of the day, is performed by reciting verses from Sri Andal’s ‘Thiruppavai’. While the Srivaishnava Adhyapakas lead by Pedda Jeeyar swami, recites verses from Thiruppavai and Sri Thondaradipodi Alwar’s ‘Thirupallieluchi’, the Vaikhanasa Archaka Swami performs all the rituals connected to pratyusha kaalam to the Dhruva Beram.

After the above ritual, Dhanurmasa Aradhana, comprising of Thomala Seva, Sahasranama Archana with Bilva leaves, Dhanurmasam Naivedyam, Sathumora are performed. This is followed by regular sequence of worship known as ‘Pratahkala Aradhana’, in which regular Thomala Seva, Koluvu, Sahasranama Aradhana with Tulsi leaves, first bell, Bali and Sathumora are conducted.

During Sahasra Namarchana, Srivari Dhruva Beram is worshipped with Tulsi leaves amidst recital of 1008 names, for all the 11 months in a year except during the 30 days of Dhanurmasa. In this Margasira month, during Sahasranama Archana as part of Dhanurmasa Aradhana, Srivaru is offered Archana with Bilva leaves. The Lord of Vengadam hill is Lord Srinivasa and his consort is Goddess Lakshmi devi, she is known as ‘Bilvavan Alaya’. And She is praised in Lakshmi chaturvimsati Naamaavali – the 24 auspicious names of Goddess Lakshmi from Varaha Purana as “namo bilvavanasth Ayaivish Nupatnyainamo namaha.”

Special Food Offerings In Dhanurmasam

During the Dhanurmasam Naivedyam, special food offerings like Jaggery Dosa, Mudgannam (Katte Pongali), Sundal, Seera are offered every day to Lord Srinivasa.

Special Ekanta Seva To Lord Krishna In Dhanurmasam

The last sequence of Vaikhanasa worship is called ‘Paryankasana’ (Ekanta Seva or Sayana Sana) and is the putting of representative icon to rest for the night, before the temple doors are closed.

In the Tirupati, the Kautuka Bera, Sri Bhoga Srinivasa is offered with this Kainkaryam. Vaikhanasa Agama provides that Kautuka Bera, Bali Bera or any other bera may be used as a Sayana – Bera; an icon of Krishna may also be used. In fact the silver image of Lord Krishna (which is kept in the Sanctum on the left side of Dhruva Bera) is used for this service instead of the (Kautuka Beram Bhoga) Srinivasa, for 30 days during Dhanurmasam in the hill shrine. Before putting to Bed, Lord Krishna is offered sacred bath with lukewarm water and then dressed up with a vastram followed by offering of warm milk, fried nuts, fruits and betel nuts. The icon of Bhoga Srinivasa was presented by a pallava princess Samavai, in the year 614 AD. She also arranged for a 7 day festival known as Tirukkodi Tirunal ending with the Tirudvadasi (Vaikunta Dwadasi) day.

Adhyayana Utsavam In Dhanurmasam

The annual Adhyayana Utsavam celebrations are observed for 23 days during Dhanurmasam. ‘Adhyayana’ in Sanskrit literally means practice and is synonymous with repetition, recitation of any subject matter. In the Tirumala temple, the 4000 verses from the literary spiritual works (prabhandas) of 12 apostles of Vaishnavism who lived between 700 AD and 980 AD in South India, are recited for a period of 21 days, with the most auspicious day of Vaikunta Ekadasi, falling exactly in the midst of that period.

The first ten days are referred as 'Pagal-Pathu' (10 day time festival) and the second half as 'Ra Pathu' (10 nighttime festival). The first day of Rapathu is Vaikunta Ekadasi. The eleventh day of each fortnight in Hindu Almanac is called Ekadasi and the holiest of all ekadasis as per Sri Vaishnavite tradition is the Vaikunta Ekadasi. Nammalwar, one of the 12 alwars, is believed to have ascended to vaikuntam (the heavenly abode of Vishnu) on this day. The devotion of the 9th-century poet, Nammalwar and his perceived ascent to heaven are remembered with religious pomp during this Adhyayan Utsavams.

Srivari Utsava Murthy Sri Malayappa Swami along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi are kept in the Sanctum housed in Ranganayakula Mandapam, till the completion of Tiru-adhyayana utsavam. The processional deities of Sri Vishwaksena and Sri Ramanuja also take part in Adhyayana Utsavam celebrations. As per the custom of Hill Shrine, only on two occasions, Lord Malayappa Swami is kept in Ranganayakula Mandapam for daily worship. One is during Annual Brahmotsavam, Dwajarohanam to Deepavali Asthanam, and the other occasion being, Adhyayanotsavam.

Vaikunta Ekadasi In Dhanurmasam in Tirumala

During the Dhanurmasam, Vaikunta Ekadasi, is celebrated with religious fervor. This is one among the four other important festivals of Tirumala Hill shrine. Koil Alwar Thirumanjanam, a purificatory ritual which involves cleaning of entire Tirumala temple including Sanctum Sanctorum, is performed on a Tuesday, before the ensuing Vaikunta Ekadasi festival. The most auspicious Vaikunta Dwaram or Uttara Dwaram (which surrounds the sanctum of Srivaru) is opened for circumambulation. Devotees consider it highly meritorious to go for a pradakshina around Mukkoti Pradakshina and it is also believed that whoever have darshan of Lord and does pradakshina by passing through Vaikunta Dwara on this day will reach Vishnu loka and get the blessings of Lord Vishnu. It is opened in the wee hours of Vaikunta Ekadasi and closed on the second day, Vaikunta Dwadasi evening, only 2 days in a year, devotees get this holy chance. On this day, Lord Malayappa swami is taken for procession around four mada streets, in Swarna Ratham.

Swami Pushkarini Mukkoti In Dhanurmasam

On the day after Vaikunta Ekadashi, i.e., Vaikunta Dwadasi after pratahkala Aradhana, Lord Venkateswara’s weapon Sudarshana chakra is taken out for procession around four mada streets, and is taken to Sri Varahaswami temple. Sri Sudarsana is given sacred bath on the banks of Swami Pushkarini and is taken for a holy dip in those celestial waters. This is performed commemorating Swami Pushkarini Theertha Mukkoti.
Early in the morning on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight of Dhanurmas all the holy teerthas, millions of them, congregate there to get rid of themselves of their sins. So the devotees go to Swami Pushkarini as they will get the punya of bathing in all teerthas. Further, whatever merit is acquired by pilgrimage to Ganga and other sacred rivers and holy places such as Kailasa or giving charity to brahmins, will be achieved by pilgrimage to visiting only one Swami Pushkarini. Whoever offers charity to the needy and the poor on the day attains merit to wash away sins of several births. One who bathes in Swami Pushkarini chanting the following Mantra also achieves the above merit. “Dhanurmasesitepakshe Dwadasyam Arunodaye Aayantisarva Teerthani Swami Pushkarini Jale”. And hence it is considered highly meritorious to take a holy dip in Swami Pushkarini on this auspicious day.

Goda Kalyanam On Last Day of Dhanurmasa

The holy month of Dhanurmasa conclude with Bhogi festival on the 30th day and Goda Kalyanam ritual is performed in Tirupati Sri Govindaraja Swamy Temple Andal Sannidhi. Also flower garlands from Sri Andal Sannidhi is sent to Tirumala and is adorned on the Dhruva Beram of Srivaru, during Madhyamika Aradhana.

At the end of Dhanurmasa Aradhana, Srivari Mulavirat is adorned with flower garlands and there will be no separate adornment of flowers in the regular Thomala Seva. Also two specially made parrots with leaves, one from Srivilliputhur Andal Sannidhi is adorned on the left bosom of Srivaru, another one provided by TTD garden department is also adorned on the left side near Shankham. Also a diamond studded parrot is adorned on the right bosom of Srivaru throughout Dhanurmasam.

Those who worship Lord Vishnu in this holy month of Dhanurmasa, will be conferred with the choicest blessings of Lord Srinivasa and by his eternal grace, devotees are blessed with health, wealth, peace and prosperity in this world and attain Vishnu loka prapti at the end of their lives.

Source - Excerpts from an article published in December 2016 Sapthagiri Magazine by A Ramakrishna Deekshitulu.