The early morning streets of Srirangam , usually characterized by minimal human activity restricted to vaidikas bending their steps for a dip in the Holy Cauvery, turned abuzz with activity on 15th April when the students of Gurukulam commenced their trip to the ‘ Land of the Path shower’ – Kaattu mannar kudi ( sampradaically termed as Kattum Mannar Koil, for, without the grace of this Mannar, the history of Azhwars and the Nalayira Divya Prabandhams would have remained in dark for eternity).
“Start reciting chatushloki and Ramanuja chatushloki” echoed a voice with convincing conviction. “ Please carry the fresh fruits and the flowers of Namperumal to garland Sriman Nathamunigal and Sri Alavandar” cried another. “ Are all the children inside the bus” asked a voice with shades of authority and deep concern. “Start the vehicle!” exclaimed all the children and the blue mini bus kick started the Spirtual journey.
Sri Vasudevan ,a donor of Srimaan Trust, along with a few other adiyaars, had long back wished to bring the tradition of Arayar Sevai to the place of its root i.e Kattu Mannar Kudi. This wish turned into reality with the grace of Mannar with Srivilliputtur Arayar swamy and Azhwar Thirunagari Arayar swamy coming to the birth place of Nathamunigal and performing arayar sevai right before the presiding deity , the beautiful Kattu Mannar. What a baghyam it would be to drink this divine event through mortal eyes! Hence the gurukulam students decided to take part in this event.
After the morning anushtanam at the Muth where they stayed, the children chanting ‘aara amudhae adiyen udalam’ from Thiruvaimozhi, the verses which fetched us the whole of Nalayira divya prabandham, entered the temple of Mannar and paid obeisance to The Lord and His divine consorts. Then chanting ‘ Stotra Ratnam’, the divine outpouring of Alavandar, these children of Gurukulam with utmost humility prostrated before the blemishless Thirumeni of Sriman Nathamunigal and Shri Alavandar. The founder Acharya Shri Badrinarayan Bhattar swamy and all the volunteers prayed at the feet of Mannar and Nachiars for the well being of humanity and made special prayers for the betterment of the donors and other selfless kainkaryparas of the Trust.
Azhwar thirunagari arayar swamy stood before the Presiding deity Mannar with Shri Nathamunigal and Alavandar by His side and rendered Thiruppavai with all its vyakyanam.What more can Kannan(Mannar) ask for ? It seemed Mannnar was ready to set aside all his utsavams and completely immerse in anubhavam of Aandal’s Thiruppavai! Some abhinayams were also sprinkled in between the arayar sevai. While the arayar sevai was progressing, a few gurukulam and Srimaan Bhattar Kuzham students( we forgot to mention that these children were also part of the journey) turned restless and were loitering around the temple premises in search of something. They couldn't tolerate the arayar swamy sweating and hence were asking the temple people for a hand held fan. On obtaining one,they began Thiru aalavatta kainkaryam for Arayar swamy and continued till the end. The arayar sevai was followed by the sthala acharya purushas discoursing on the vaibhavam of Kattu Mannar Koil and Shri Badrinarayana Bhattar swamy describing the wonderful kainkarayams of the Poorvacharyas born there. Swamy also thanked all the Srivaishnavas who had taken pains to care take the gurukulam children.
This was followed by Vidwath sadas and Purappadu of Emperumaan around the thiruveedhis. The children completing the anushtaanam and dinner were about to leave when the youngest among them was upset. On asking the reason, he cutely replied he wanted to worship Lord Varaha at Srimushnam. Understanding the love of the child for the Lord, the return journey plan was altered to fit in Lord Varaha sevai also. Bidding adieu to Lord Mannar and the Acharyas, the children left Kattu Mannar Koil and via SriMushnam ( worshipping Gnyannap piraan there) reached Periya Koil early morning.
In all the journey enriched the children with the knowledge of two scions of the Srivaishnava guruparamparai and had also made them realize the need for devoted service at such temple-towns where there is scarcity of human resources for kainkaryams.
Now that you have all had the anubhavam of Kattu Mannar koil in writing, it is time the visual treat is also served. The wonderful empermaan, the Arayar sevai.... do watch them and kindle the thirst to visit Kattu Mannar Koil and do kainkaryam to the deity and acharyas there!
The link is here :