Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bhagavatha Sapthaham - July 2008, Los Angeles.

"Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya:"

First ever "Sreemad Bhagavatha Sapthaha Yagnam" in North America took place on July 7 to14, 2008 in Mithila-Chinmaya Mission, Tustin, California.

This Mahapurana Yajnam was conducted by Yajna Acharya Sri Mannadi Hari from Thiruvananthapuram. Other Yajna Pouraankiars were Shri. Pardhasaradhi Pillai, Shri Gopala Krishna Pillai and Shri Radhakrishna Pillai of New York.

Hari Guruji (Pundit Sri Harihara Iyer from Palakkad) was the priest for the Sapthaham.

This Sapthaham in Kilippattu was the first of its kind to be conducted in North America. Bhagavatham Parayanam was done Malayalam with explanation in English for seven days. Also many additional special poojas and discourses were conducted by eminent Acharyas from India and US.

Our dear member Shri. A.P. Sukumarji of Canada participated for parayanam of Bhagavatham for two days. Smt. Sindu Pillai was the another ardent devotee who participated in the Bhagavatha parayanam.

Other speakers and special guest were Swami Ishwarananda of Chinmaya Mission, Tustin, Swami Sarvadevananda Ramakrishna Mission, Hollywood and Pundit Sivaramakrishnan Chief Priest, Sanathana Dharma Temple, Artesia.

It also was a nice satsung for some of our Guruvayur group members who came for Sapthaham. Shri. Udayabhanu Panickerji, Smt. Rajee Anandaji, Shri. Sukumarji, Shri.Kirit Shahji and myself attended the sapthaham.

Our group member Smt. Padmini Puthanpurayilji was also virtually present as she was providing food for the function.

Personally, it was a bhakthi filled week for me reminding me of Guruvayoor in every way. It was touching to see the devotion of many bhaktha
s who had tears while listening to Krishnaavatharam etc.

Also a great get toegther - satsung - of our Guruvayur family members and many other great devotees! I will add a separate blog post to share the photos of the group members during sapthaham.

Another nice suprise was the beautifully designed Sudarshana Yanthrams with pooja "aavaahanam" at the sapthaham. These were specially manufactured on gold color plates with red/white letters and design (under Dr. Ramadas Pillai's specific technical instructions on anodizing for permanent shine and color). The yanthrams are among the most perfect and powerful he had seen, as per Pundit Hari Guruji.

World Guruvayur devotees forum likes to THANK all those worked very hard to make it a memorable and bhakthi filled occassion. May Guruvayoorappan's blessings be with you and your family for the great deed.

This Yagnam was sponsored by OHM & KHNA - Co-sponsored by Mithila-Chinmaya Mission.

- Sunil Menon, Jul 2008

Photo credits - Jay Menon, Priya Raguram, Udabhanu Panicker & Sunil

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kerala trip - Dr. Saroja Ramanujam

Dr. Saroja and Shri Ramanujam

Kerala, God's own country!

It is true because you can see more of God's creations in Kerala than anywhere else. In other lands man has destroyed what God has created. I mean the wealth of nature. The green forests and the coconut trees and other natural scenes of beauty can be enjoyed only in Kerala wherever you travel. Though our trip was a short one and we could not have an extended tour all over Kerala due to our age (even this was quite exhausting) we had a brief but memorable experience.

Guruvayur temple in Palghat

We went to Palghat where a friend Dr.Jaikrishna menon lived . And to proceed he wished to take us in his car. We spent some time with his family and went to the Guruvayur temple in Palghat maintained by Chinmaya mission. It is just beautiful and Guruvayurappan is charming . The murals along the wall of the sannidhi depicted scenes from Dasavathara and there were some other paintings on the wall in the meditation hall. I could not drag myself away from the place. It is very well maintained and visitors to Palghat should not miss it.

We went to a Hanuman temple in Palghat inside the fort of Tippusultan, the Hanumanji there is supposed to be very powerful. It seems two Hindu soldiers of Tippu who were stationed there carved a figure of Hanuman on the rock and later it was made into a proper temple.


We left for Guruvayur in the evening in a taxi, since we would not allow our friend to drive due to a sudden heavy downpour and we had to skip our plan to visit Vadakkanatha temple in Trichur as a result. Next morning we went to the temple of Guruvayurappan . There was a huge crowd with a queue extending far beyond the entrance to the temple due to the day being Good Friday a holiday and when we almost got reconciled to see the Lord from outside Guruvayurappan willed otherwise and our friend took us to the queue of senior citizens which was not too long and we were able to have the darsan within an hour.

The feeling I had on seeing the Lord was something I have never experienced earlier even when the temple was not crowded. We were not even allowed to go very near the sannidhi , may be due to excessive crowd, but the moment I stood in front of the Lord I could feel the vibrations of divine joy coursing through me and this feeling I could experience again only in Trivandrum in the temple Padmanabha and in Thirukurungudi temple , Thirunelveli, though I visited many temples during our tour. These were the three places where I could feel the divine presence.

We could not do the thulabharam as planned due to the place being overcrowded and we left for Ernakulam thinking that perhaps the Lord wants us to come again for tulabhatram.

Cochin and meeting with Indu Kumar

When we reached Ernakulam our Indu kumar of Guruvayur group came to meet us at the station. It was the initiative of Chandrasekhara menon of our group to inform her of our arrival and she communicated with me before our departure and booked our stay in Bharat hotel and also arranged for a taxi to take us around. She and her husband helped us with the luggage and left us in the hotel.

The next day we went to Thirupanithura to the temple Poornathraya sayee, of which Indu has written about, and to the Hill palace, Thirupanithura, which houses several art pieces and jewels etc. It was really fantastic. We climbed the steps of more than 60 I am sure, realizing only when we went half way up that there is a road around for car to travel. Nether our driver knew it nor the man who sold the tickets told us!. We managed to call the car for climbing down though, which was just as well as it started raining. But it was worthwhile though. In the confusion of calling the car etc we forgot to buy the postcards showing the art pieces of the museum.

Then we went to Cochin and visited the Mattancheri palace and saw the mythological murals, depicting the whole of Ramayana there. To climb the stairs for the museum was a task and a fellow tourist, a Frenchman, helped me by offering his arm. Inside I ventured to go down to the Queens bedroom to see the murals there through narrow and steep steps and I had a tough time climbing up that nearly gave my husband a heart attack!.

Afterwards we rode round the port of Cochin and saw the Chinese nets and walked along the spice street in Jewish town but the synagogue was closed due to some festival season. In the evening we went to the Siva temple of Ernakulam which was right opposite our hotel and a Hanuman temple and adjacent to it which contained a beautiful hanumanji and several statues inside. It was really worth seeing.

The next day Indu took us to Chottanikkara temple in her car and the day being auspicious there was a huge crowd and when we gave up the hope of getting in Indu talked to some temple authorities and we were taken inside through a special entrance and were able to have the darsan in few minutes

The rest of the morning was spent in the house of Indu with her husband and daughter. Mr Kumar is very knowledgeable and he and my husband became friends at once. Surya the daughter of Indu was quite charming too and we had delightful time with all of them Their house is itself a museum of art pieces and they also have a lovely garden, a rarity in Chennai. Our visit to their hous is the best part of our trip to Ernakulam.


Indu also saw us off to Trivandrum where we were met by another friend from orkut R.Suresh. We went to the Hotel Aryanivas where Suresh made the bookings earlier.

Next day we took a taxi and went to Padmanabha Swami temple. We had a good darsan of Padmanabha and Narasimha, Rama and Hanuman inside the temple. The face of Padmanabha was not very clearly visible but in spite of that I fell in love with Him the moment I saw Him. He was simply gorgeous!. If there is one place in Kerala I would like to return apart from Guruvayur it is the temple of Padmanabha as I wished that I could stay in front of the Lord forever.

As we could not see the palace, art gallery etc . the day being Monday when they are all closed and we went to Varkala Krishna temple in the afternoon.. The Krishna there is beautiful reminding us of Guruvayurappan

We went to the kudhiramaligai , which got the name due to the wooden image of horses sculpted on the roof of the outer wall of the palace. It was the place where Maharaja SwathithirunaaL used to stay and he built it especially to be near the temple of Padamanabha which is adjacent to the palace. It contains paintings and art pieces whach are very beautiful but the splendour of the place was mainly due to the aura of n music and learning that is reverberated through the chambers. Maharaja SwatithitunaaL used to sit in one of his chambers from where he could see the temple tower of Padmanabha and compose his songs. It was thrilling to visualize the musicians and scholars who used to throng the palace chambers in his days. The whole palace is of wooden structure and an bounds in beautiful carvings on the ceilings and around.

We went to chithra art gallery which houses the paintings of Ravivarma and others and went back and rested for a while and started for Thirunelveli.


We stayed in Hotel Janakiram in Thirunelveli and visited the Vaishnava divya desams around Thirunelveli. We returned to Chennai happy but exhausted after a ten day travel.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guruvayur visit - Sunil Menon

Om Namo Narayanaya: Visiting "Guru-pavana-puri" is always a great feeling and happy experience. This year it was more special as we were taking our one year old daughter to the lotus feet of Guruvayoorappan for the first time.

We had booked rooms close to the templ
e and got to the temple early in the morning and had a good darshan. We were in the darshan line for a little over an hour as the Thirunada was closed for Usha pooja for almost an hour. But this wait turned out to be good as we had enough time to pray for everyone including our dear yahoo group members and their well being.

Devaswom do ha
ve some arrangements for letting infants to go inside faster but considering the short wait, we did not have to avail that facility.

Overall, the efficiency of the darshan line has considerably im
proved since my last visit. However there is still a lot of push and impatience among devotees to get inside faster and this creates difficulties to elderly and babies. I hope people will learn to follow queue system and be more humble and considerate of others in the coming years.

We saw plenty of brides and grooms as it was wedding season. It is always a pleasure to see newlyweds who reminds us of Krishna and Radha!

Guruvayur Utsavam

Later I visited Guruvayoor again during Utsavam season. My (late) father's birthday falls on the same day as Anayottam in Guruvayoor and we always used to visit Guruvayoor on that day when I was a child. The Anayottam -elephant race - was a day earlier due to the Nakshatram - star- coming on two days, so, I could not be there on the Anayottam but the next day.

Ramankutty was the winner of the Anayottam and he was inside th
e temple during Utsavam days and happily receiving the love and affection of the devotees.

There was a Harthal day during Utsavam and luckily
Guruvayoor township was exempted from the Harthal. Hartals are becoming frequent in Kerala and life becomes tough especially when someone is on a tight time frame.

Kanji and Puzhukku
Receiving Krishna's blessing as "prasada oottu" and filling my stomach with puzhukku and Kanji was quite a nice experience. It is very nice that they still serve the Kanji in a "paala pathram" (bowl made out of the leaf of arickanut tree) and with a "playila" ! (Traditional soup spoon made of jack fruit tree leaf)
There was plenty of Kanji, puzhukku and pappadums to feed thousands!

Meeting our group member - Savitriji
Meeting anyone from our group is always a great pleasure, this time I had the privilege to meet a true devotee of Guruvayoorappan and a new group member, Smt. Savitri-ji in Guruvayoor.

Many of you must be knowing Savitriji's father Shri. OM.C. Narayanan Namboothiripad, who has translated the whole Rig Veda into Malayalam from Sanskrit!

Savitriji informed me advance about her visit to Guruvayoor and she was kind enough to invite me to their famous mana - Olappamanna illam- for the "Thalappoli" festival. Though, I would have loved to visit the distinguished "Olappamanna mana", I could not go due to my time limitations.

I also got to meet Savitriji's sisters and we had a good discussion about the current state of Kerala temples, Bhakthi, Narayaneeyam and Guruvayoorappan.

It is truly appreciable for someone from Texas to travel 8000 miles to be with Guruvayoorappan during Utsavam days and do bhajanam with siblings during Utsavam days in Gurupavanapuri!

Mammiyoor Darshanam
Visiting Mammiyoor Shiva temple is a mandatory part of Guruvayoor darshan. [ Mammiyoor temple is about 1 Kms north of Guruvayoor temple in the Guruvayur-Kunnamkulam road. ]

Here is the story of Mammiyoor temple and its importance

The Guruvayoorappan idol at Guruvayoor is originally from none other than Srikrishna that He kept it in Dwaraka and worshiped. When Dwaraka got submerged, he told Brihaspathy to take the idol and install in proper place. Guru and Vayu devas went in search for the most holy place. Parasuraman invited them to Kerala and they reached Rudratheertha where Siva was doing tapas. Seeing Guru and Vayu, Siva came up from the water, received them and told "this is the most holy place for installation". This place had been marked for long ago for the divine idol of Narayana worshiped by Narayan himself. Siva and Parvathy moved to the opposite bank at Mammiyoor. Siva asked Guru and Vayu to perform the installation and from that day, the place was known as Guruvayoor. So the visit to Guruvayoor is incomplete without visiting Mammiyoor.

Difficult part of leaving Guruvayoor
Unlike Savitriji, I could spend only a day and half in Guruvayoor. Another interesting fact about Guruvayoor is that we never feel leaving the place or Krishna. Always feel like taking one more darshan and spend some more time in Guruvayoor.. So, when it is comes to leave, it is always a tough choice! Krishna's divine magnetism for sure.

More photos from the trip can be found at the following URL

or the photo slide show at


Om Namo Narayanaya: Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya: Om Namo Narayanaya: