Nurani grama samudayam
nurani village, palakkad

Sasthapreethi & Mandalakalam

Now a days Sastha Preethi is celebrated all over India in various names such as Ayyappan Villakku, Ayyappan Pattu, Sastha Pattu etc. Sastha having earned a name of Annadhana Prabhu, mass feasts are arranged for the function every year. It is believed that Nurani, the famous agraharam in Palakkad Town in Kerala is the origin of Sastha cult. All over Kerala for Sasthapreethi festivals “Nurani Chellapillai song” is common. Nurani Sasthapreethi is the most auspicious festival among all the 18 agraharams at Palakkad. Ayyappa Pooja is conducted in every nook and corner of the country during Mandalam to Kaliyuga varadhan Sri Dharma Sastha. This festival is celebrated at Nurani Village for more than 300 years now.

About 180 years ago members of Choodamani family met with early death at the age of 35 to 40 leaving their dependants destitute. A great man who visited the village advised the family to conduct Vaaram and give meals to the vaideekas at night. This was followed by the family with utmost devotion and what a wonder! The next generation members were blessed with long life crossing 80 or 90 years. Now Vaaram is conducted during Mandalam and mandala vaaram (chanting of Yajur Veda Kramam by turn peculiar to Nurani) is conducted for 44 days with the same fervour and dedication for the well being and longevity of all the villagers.

In Nurani Sasthapreethi is not a one or two day’s function. The festival starts from the commencement of Mandalam mostly on 16th November (vrichikam or Karthikai 1st)every year. Mandala Abhishekam, Sasth Pattu and Kanakku (Nivedyam) lasts for 42 days. During mandalam, every morning Mahanyasam and Rudra abhishekam by chanting Sree Rudram 11 times at Sastha Sannidhi and abhishekam to Mahavishnu by chanting Purusha Suktha 16 times is performed throughout mandalam. Daily at Vishnu Sannidhi, Upanishad Parayanam is performed. After Sayam Sandhya Deeparadhana, Yajur Veda Krama Parayanam and Vaara Japam is conducted. Vaidhikas are served a sumptuous meal. Daily poojas conducted are Vigneswara Pooja, Sankalpam, Maahanyasan, Rudra Japam, Kumba abhishekam & Deeparadhana. At night, after Aradhana Pooja, Nurani Sastha songs in traditional style are sung.

At night around 9 p.m. all devotees assemble in the temple for Ardhayama Pooja and sing Bhajans in conventional style peculiar to Nurani. Changalavatta (oil lamp) is lighted after breaking coconut in the Sastha Sannidhi and three pradhakshinams with the accompaniment of Nadaswaram, all devotees sit in two opposite lines facing each other at Sastha Sannidhi. Destined Bhagavathar with the permission of the elders commences the song as per the Paddathi giving importance to Sastha songs. Nattai, Thodayamangalam, viruthams, keerthanams and deeparadhana is performed. After deeparadhana and distribution of Prasadam concluding poojas and songs continue. Mantra pushpam, Swarna lPushpam, Chaturveda Parayanam and Ashirvadam, one stanza from Siva Ashtakam, Ashtapadi and keerthanam followed by Thevaramm, virutham, Pathyam, venpa, Kalithurai, Nalanku, kummi, Choomikai, Onjal, Nadai chutthal Vazhthu follow. Preceding Wednesday before Sasthapreethi, Sastha savarna Sahasranama Archana to Sastha and on thrusday 1008 Sanku Pooja and Abhishekam to Lord Maha Vishnu are performed. Further Pooma Dravya abhishekam to Sastha and Kalabhabhishekam to Vishnu are also performed.

On the first auspicious Saturday after Mandalam, Sastha Preethi is Scheduled on a day in which Oil Bath can be taken (except on the following thithis : Sukla Shasti, Ekadashi, Amavasya, Pournami) and Thulasi Amman Pooja (BrindaLakshmi Pooja) is conducted on the previous day i.e. Friday.

On Sasthapreethi Day

Usha Pooja, Upanishad parayanam, Prathyaksha Ganapathy Homam, Poornabhishekam to Sastha and Maha Vishnu and Maha Deeparadhana is performed. On this day also, Lord Ayyappa is taken on procession (Ezhunallippu) with caparisoned elephants accompanied by Sastha Pattu and Nadaswaram in the morning through the streets of village and also Ganapathy Temple and Shiva Temple. After return of the procession, Maha Deeparadhana is performed at about 1.30 / 2.00 pm after the return of the procession. During Deeparadhana time, Garudan is seen flying high in the sky around the vicinity of the temple. It is said that the same Garudan accompanying the Thiruvabharanam from Pandalam to Sabarimalai is seen at Nurani village at the same time of Neivedyam and Deeparadhana. It is also said that the Garudan goes to Sabarimalai after Nurani festival.