Friday, 8 July 2011
Ragu Kalam Durga Pooja
The pooja is normally conducted in Amman temples and procedures are quite different from one temple to another, but it follows exactly the same way of offering “mavuvilaku”. There are no specific mantras but in temples devotees will conduct banjans and chant the name of Durga Matha. At the end of the pooja, one is required to do “ Sangkalpam “. Lime is always been used in medication because of its acidity that can cure many diseases. One who wants to perform this pooja needs to invert the lime after it has been cut into half. Remember , this is the most difficult part, if you cut a unripe lime, U cant invert it and the same goes to a ripen lime. So the selection of the lime is very much needed. The main purpose is to bring out the dermis part of the lime which is usually white in colour. The lime is resembling us and we need show the inner part of us to God. Garment of illusion, greedy, lust and angriness need to throw away before God. The white dermis of the lime shows our pure conscious and the darker part ( green in colour which is hidden inside ) is our Maya. One can use any type of wicks in this pooja and I have listed out some of the wicks and its significance. Wick made of banana stem fibre removes offences before God and ancestral curse, cotton wick- obtains all good fortune, lotus stem fibre ( wick ) – removes karma from pervious birth and establishes a happy and prosperous life, white madder plant –pulp of the bark – increase wealth and dispels misfortunes, new yellow cotton cloth – obtains the grace of Goddess Parasakti and frees one from entanglements and will not be affected by further misfortunes and New Red cotton cloth- removes any marriage obstacles and child bearing obstacles, keep on free from spells, mantras and tantras. The wick is a symbol of energy and light where alight emits brightness. The point of the wick tells us that God is everywhere. The tambalam ( silver plates) reflect Brahma ( creator ) and the Turmeric rice ( uncooked rice ) resemble Maha Vishnu. The turmeric rice stabilise the lime and it acts exactly as God Vishnu who is a preserver and stabilise between born ( Brahma ) and death ( Rudra ). The top of the half cut inverted lime signifies Shiva. As the oil ( ghee ) is contained, just like Lord’s Shiva contained Ganga ( the river ) in His hair. The ghee and the flame signifies Goddess Laxmi who blessed us with her wealth, the brightness of the flame resemble Goddess Saraswathy who blessed us with education and knowledge and the heat from the flame signifies Mother Durga.
The pooja is nothing if we don’t understand the truth of this pooja. Ragu Kalam Durga Pooja is a typical South Indian way of worshiping Mother Durga. Mother Durga is well-known to the Northern Indian through their Durga Pooja or Navarathiri which held 4 times a year. There is a verbal story that somehow connects to this Pooja. Navagrahas the planet deities of which the first seven are Sun ( Surya ), Moon ( Soma ), Mars ( Mangal), Mercury ( Budha ), Jupiter ( Brishpati ), Venus( Sukra), Saturn ( Shani ) give names to the days of the week: Sunday to Saturday respectively. The other two Ragu (Ascending node) and Ketu (Descending node) are also fabled as planets, the former as a planet with a head and no body and the latter as a planet with a body and no head. In the Puranas, they are all represented as deities borne in cars. The planet Sun travels in some zodiac point each month. Similarly, the other planets have their times of travel through the zodiac assigned to them. As the planets travel through a particular zodiac signs, their relative positions with respect to each other changes and is supposed to determine the fate of the human affairs. An astrologer can draw up a horoscope of a person based on his time of birth and calculate the relative positions of the planets relative to this horoscope. The planets are also believed to influence the outcomes of historical events of entire nations and the Earth. Each planet has its own mode of circumambulation - clockwise or anti-clockwise. Each planet faces a different direction. In religious rites, beetle nuts represent the planets and the priest invites each planet to be present there and witness and bless the pooja.
So the story goes like this- “ A couple blessed with a child after their continuous prayers to Divine Mother. The child reached her puberty age and the parents decided to seek an astrologer to ask the fate of the child in future. The couple was shocked to get to know that their daughter has “ Ragu Thosam ( very bad time –Ragu is controlling her time ) and the ninth day from her birthday, a black serpent will bite her to death. Hearing this, the couple rushed to get the protection and remedies from Mother Durga. At this moment, Goddess Parvathy who wander as a saint in earth to help her devotees and Parvathy took the vow to save the child. The time comes and as predicted before , Ragu ( the serpent-head ) changes himself as a serpent and try his very best to kill the girl. Each of his attempt been blocked by Sakti and at last Sakti herself reincarnate as the girl and Ragu mistakenly bite Sakti thus made a sinful act. Ragu beg for forgiveness and as a reward he let go the girl. In forgiving his mistakes, Durga Matha remind him that Ragu thosam and Ragu`s influences will ease for those who are performing Pooja for her at Ragu Neeram ( a bad time ) and those who are conducting the pooja will be blessed by Mother Durga.
Why Ragu Neeram, why cant Emakandam neeram ( the time of Semi-god Yama )? Both as been accepted as inauspicious time. It seems The North Node of the Moon is called Ragu in Vedic astrology and the South Node is called ketu. They are called dark or shadow planets, because of the Nodes' association the phenomena of eclipses. They have no sign ruler ships, although they are said to favour Mercury and Jupiter's signs according to some authorities, while others claim that Ragu favours the sign of Aquarius and Ketu sign of Scorpio. Ragu, the North Node of the Moon means to conceal, engulf or hide in Sanskrit. This Graha is associated with the world of material manifestation and worldly desire. Ragu is associated with the spiritual process of involution, or the engrossing of spirit in materialization. Ragu is a karaka, or indicator, of worldly desire, fame, greed, high intelligence, manipulation, obsessive behaviour, foreigners, mass disease, dementia and inertia. The nature of this Graha is Vata, or Airy. These qualities of Ragu are with us. The Ken Upanishad, part three known as Yaksha Prashna says that The Supreme power of God is manifested as knowledge, activity and strength. The Bhagavad-Gita describes the same in different words ( Ch 17, Verse 5- “Purity, passion and inertia – these qualities , born of nature bind fast in the body. Purity known as Sattwa , passion known as Rajas and the inertia known as Tamas. Each of these three gunas represented by colour, Sattwa is white ( colour of purity )- represented by that aspect of mother Durga we worship as Goddess Saraswati. The colour of Rajas is red represented by that aspect of mother Durga we worship as Goddess Lakshmi and Tamas is black, represented by the aspect of mother Durga we worship as Goddess Kali. Ragu attribute Tamas to our life. Tamas is born of ignorance , deluding all embodied beings. Tamas binds fast in heedlessness , sleep, and indolence, laziness (Bhagavad-Gita , Ch 14 verse 8 ). Tamas is that binding force with a tendency to lethargy ( lack of energy, vitality ), sloth and foolish actions. It causes non-discrimination or delusion. It binds one who is associates with self with the Body. A tasmasic person act under the compulsion of the body. He has no power of judgement. His actions are not guided by reasons. His senses are dull. These are all baser animal qualities ( Ragu –serpent head ( half human and half animal form ), the lower diabolical nature in man. We pray to mother Kali as Durga as the supreme force and power to destroy all our impurities, our vices, and our defects. She is to fight and annihilate these demons. This is the strength aspect of Sakti as mentioned in the Upanishad .
Mother Durga is the power that guides and protects the devotee’s spiritual practice form its many danger and pitfalls. So, by performing this Ragu Kalam Durga Pooja, Mother Durga will bestow peace and prosperity in our life.
“mm Kala abhraham kata akshair, arikula bhaya dam, mauli bad-dhendu rekham shankam chakram kripanan tri-shikha –mapi karair, udvahantim trinetram, Simha-skanda –adhirudham tribuvanam akhilam purayanthim, Dhyayed Durga jaya akhyam Tri-dasha pati nutam sevitam seddhi kamaih"
which means “ I pray to thee O Mother Durga, with my folded hands and head on your lotus feet. You are , O Mother, known as Jaya ( victorious ), honoured and saluted by Lord of heaven name Indra and served by the devotees, wishing their success. You beam like thick and black clouds. You could terrify enemies even with a flash of your look. You are adorned with crown set of cresent moon on your head. You hold the conch, the chakra ( wheel ).the sword and the spear . You have three eyes, O Mother and on the back of the lion, your vahana. The whole world is filled with your great splendour , I pray thee, O mother Durga.