Thiruvananthapuram: Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple is all decked up and ready for the grand 'murajapam' ritual that is held once in every six years. The special ritual which commences on November 21 will end on January 15, coinciding with Makar Sankranti festival. The Lakshadeepam or the lighting of one lakh lamps will mark the end of the 56-day ritual.
The ceremony which began during the reign of Anizham Thirunnal Marthanada Varma is now observed with some minor changes. The murajapam would be conducted by around 200 vedic scholars including eminent priests from Kanjipuram and Pejavar matts and also representatives from various Brahmin associations and Yoga Kshema Sabhas in Kerala. The priests and vedic scholars would reach the capital in coming days.
7 ways of japam
The japam or the ceremonial chanting of the Vedas would be held in seven sessions which last for eight days each. Each session would culminate with a special 'sheeveli' ceremony. On January 15, when the murajapam ends, the temple would be illuminated in the divine grace of one lakh lamps or lakshadeepam.
Each session of the murajapm involves the sacred chanting of Rigveda, Yajurveda, and Samaveda. The ritual begins at 6.30 am and continues till 8.30 pm every day. The alankara pooja, muzhukappu, niradeepam and special Ganapati homam would be conducted before the japam each day.
Head priest Tharanallur Parameswaran Namboothiripad would lead the murajapam festivities. The chanting of Rig and Yajur Vedas would be conducted at the two mandaps in the east facade. Meanwhile, the Sama veda would be chanted at the Vedavyasam mandap and the sahasranapajapam would be held at the Kulasekhara mandap. The idols of Sree Padmanabhaswamy, Narasimha, and Thiruvanbadi Sree Krishna would be displayed respectively, at the seeveli held every eight days. The Anantavaahanam would be used for the seeveli ceremony after the first mura or session, Kamalavahanam for the second session, Indravahanam for the third and fifth sessions, Pallakku or palanquin for the fourth and sixth mura and Garudavahanam would be taken out at the end of the seventh session. There would usually be 4 pradakshina or circumambulating the sanctum sanctorum for the seeveli ceremony held during the temple festival. However, there would only be 3 pradakshina for the seeveli during the murajapam ritual.
Jalajapam at Padmatheertham
The jalajapam is one of the main rituals of the first day of murajapam. All the priests who participate in the 56-day ritual would also take part in the jalajapam that would be held at the famous Padmatheertha pond in the temple premises. This special ritual will be led by the temple's head priest Tharanallur Parameswaran Namboothiripad.
The lamps would be lighted, on the day before the lakshdeepam ceremony, as a rehearsal for the grand spectacle. The temple would be illuminated with colorful electric bulbs, earthen lamps and other illuminations on certain days from November 15 onwards. Cultural events, too, would be conducted as part of the festivities.
The royal inception
The murajapam ritual was started by Anizham Thirunnal Marthanada Varma, who is hailed as the architect of modern Travancore. After waging a successful war against the Kayamkulam province, Anizham Thirunnal had submitted his royal sword and his province at the feet of Sree Padmanabhaswamy as a gesture of gratitude. He also decided to perform some rituals as a penance for the sufferings he had brought on his subjects by waging the war.
For this, he invited the eminent Brahmin scholars from Madurai, Thirunelveli, and Malabar. He instructed them to look of penance rituals in the 4 vedas and 6 sastras. It was the Brahmin priests who advised the king to conduct the murajapam and the bhadradeepam ceremonies. Historical documents point that the first murajapam was conducted in 1747.