Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Enchanting Annual Aadi Vel Festival in Colombo

"Life is a festival only to the wise"~Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1803-1882), (American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist)

The 136th Annual Aadi Vel festival was held in Colombo with colour and glamour. Beautifully decorated wooden carved cart left the Colombo Sammaankodu Sri Kathirvelaayuthaswamy temple in Sea Street left in the morning on July 23rd 2010 and reached the Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple at night. The colourful procession paraded through the main streets in Colombo. Traditional musicians playing the Thavil and Naathaswaram led the procession. The festival wended through many main streets in Colombo after a lapse of 16 years. The colourful procession started from Pettah and travel through York Street, Echelon Square and Galle Road to Bambalapitty, which has been the route for the annual Vel festival for more the 100 years.

“There was a Cholera outbreak in Sri Lanka in 1874, and the British rulers did not allow the devotees to attend the annual festival and be on the Paatha Yathra to Kathirgaamam. The devotees in Colombo got together, and celebrated the festival. This led us to celebrate the Vel festival in Colombo annually” says the Chief Trustee of the Colombo Sammankodu Sri Kathirvelaayuthaswamy temple Mr. A. Manickavasagar.

The idols of Lord Murugan and his two wives Goddess Valli Ammai and Goddess Theivayaanai paraded in the cart and blessed the devotees on the way. Special Poojas were offered during their comfortable stay at Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty. The whole temple was decorated beautifully with Yellow colour lights, Banana leaves and fresh flower ganrlands. Devotees thronged the temple in large numbers to welcome and worship the visiting deities and enjoy the traditional musical concerts.

The procession leaves early in the morning

The idol of Vel is decorated beautifully with fresh flowers and pure silk and leaves the temple for the water cutting ceremony or Theertham

The annual Vel Festival in Colombo is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigour

The festival has been organised on a grand scale

The Annual Aadi Vel festival is aregula feature in the Hindu calendar

Vimalanatha Sharma carries the Trident for a deep dip in the ocean

Many devotees accompanied the idol to the ocean

Idol of Vel on its divine vehicle Peacock

Many men are seen carrying the idol of Vel along the Galle Road early in the morning

Procession proceeds on the Galle Road

Idol parades right in front of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple

Vel festival is dedicated to Lord Murugan

Devotees chant “Vettivel (Victorious Vel), Veeravel (Courageous Vel), and Arokara

Tamil merchants walk with the procession

It is the single most extensive celebration of the Hindus

This particular festival is one of the most spiritual pageant in Sri Lanka

Traditional musicians play throughout the fetival

The idol parades in Bambalapitty

The procession is taking a turn from Bambalapitty to Wellawatte

Garland makers in Bambalapitty made many beautiful garlands for the visiting idols

Men in White walk in fornt of the procession

Devotees walking with the procession for a few hours

Residents pop out to view the magnificent procession

Male devotees participate in another ritual on the soil before the main ceremony in the ocean

The procession is on the track

The idol is on the Marine Drive

The procession is on the beach

Seated on the soil of Wellawatte beach

The festival is a momentous occasion of the Hindus

Female devotees sit on the soft soil to watch the rituals

Rituals take place at auspicious time

The Trident is being taken to the ocean for a deep dip

Child's play ashore.This is a very common scene on any shore in Sri Lanka

The Trident is circled by male devotees and immersed in water

Splashing sea water straight on my camera

Male devotees are excited to be in the rough ocean

Honey shower is being given

Male devotees are trying to keep their space secured with the rough waves

A relaxed Life Saving Guard on a surfing board

Divine shower is underway

Ocean is rougher than usual

The water cutting ceremony takes place in the middle of the ocean

Somaskanda Ramesh Kurukkal is seen carrying out the rituals in the ocean

Men in the rough ocean on a fullmoon day

The Trident is being brought back ashore

The idol is kept ashore while the Trident is taken to the ocena for the watre cutting ceremony

Fishing in the ocean

Male devotees are helping each other in the ocean

Devotees throng the ocean

Female devotees are trying to balance in the rough waves

Enjoying the ocean bath

Vibrant colours are used to decorate the idol

Taking part in the religious rituals

Kanthaswamipillai Somasundaram (53) from Thalawakelle has been taking part in the rituals of the annual Vel festival for 40 years

Kinorss Life Saving Guards are on duty

Balakrishnan Sivaranjan (15) from Thalawakelle who is pretended to be the Lord Vairavar or Idumban is seen soaked after a deep dip

Divine showcase on the shore

Representing the rich religious fervour

A female devotee touches and worships the Kaavadi

Vimalanatha Sharma carries the Trident and walks ashore after a deep divine dip in the ocean

The festival is being held with gratitude and reverence by the devotees

Early morning walk along the Railway track

Decorated Trident parades with the procession

A quick jump in Wellawatte

Procession on the way back to Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple

Colourful idol parades under Coconut trees along the beach

Procession along the railway track

Fresh Lime on top of a Trident attached to a Kaavadi

The procession is crossing the Railway track

The deity is being carried at sky level

Many gather every year to celebrate the unique cultural event

Absolute devotion is felt throughout the festival

Torch is being carred during the procession

Spectacular deity parades through the residential area

Charming procession on Charlemont Road

Devotees are waiting to welcome the Vel

Heavy wooden divine vehicle with the idol and priest are being carried by male devotees

Procession on Charlemont Road in Wellawatte

Kaavadi dancers at the festival

Devotees offer pure silk on the way to the visiting idol

Offerings are made on top of Charlemont Road

A tray of offerings are kept on a street

The procession moves along the Galle Road

Devotees walk tirelessly with the procession for long hours on barefoot

Somaskanda Ramesh Kurukkal of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagr temple accompanies the Vel

Famous double decker bus on Galle Road

A lively procession on Galle Road

A scene on the Zebra crossing in Bambalapitty

Traditionally and usually men are allowed to carry the idol

Men are breaking the coconuts on the street

Devotees are gathered to welcome the procession

The street is being shared in Bambalapitty

Another view of the Raaja Kopuram of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka vinayagar temple

Divine Peacock vehicle carries the Vel and the men carry the idol and the priest on the shoulders

Crossing the Galle Road in Bambalapitty

Many devotees took a day off to enjoy the festival

The procession is on the opposite direction while returning to the temple

Trance time for a devotee while the idol returns to the temple

A real carnival atmosphere takes over the city which reaches fever pitch in the areas close to the temples in Bambalapiity

A view of the Raaja Kopuram of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in the morning

The wonderful procession wends its way

Lotus petals are being showered from the Raaja Kopuram of the temple to welcome the idol back

The Vel is being brought back to the temple

The spear is being fixed with Lord Murugan"s hand after the water cutting ceremony and the procession

Sandalwood dress for the Lord Murugan at Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple

Tamil month of Aadi is full of festivals

Pigeons are seen busy pecking grains

Lights are lit up in many lines

A view of the Raaja Kopuram (Mani Tower) of the Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple

A devotee carries a Coconut lit with Camphor at night

Pathmabhooshanam,Kalaimaamani Valaiyaapatty Subramaniam-Thavil,Thiruppathy Haribabu-Naathaswaram are adding the extra colour to the festival

Beautiful sculptures of the Raaja Kopuram of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple at night

Aadi Vel festival reflects the unique religious history in Sri Lanka

Idols are decorated for the festival

Devotees fill the space to view the special Pooja

Offerings to the Pooja are being ccaried by the priests to the temple

Devotees throng the temple in large numbers

The temple is kept open for long hours

Men are carrying some of the Pooja items

A kind notice for the devotees in the temple

Devotees are taking part in the prayers

Temple is beautifully decorated for the festival

During the pooja time

Anna Thaanam is served on special spiritual days and during the festive time

The Chief Priest of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty Sitsabesa Kurukkal (Mani Iyer) offers Panchchaararththi to the idols

Devotees reflect on the mirror inside the temple

"Giving food is as good as giving life" is a famous saying among the Hindus in Sri Lanka

Another devotee gets into trance as the Pooja is being conducted for Lord Vairavar or Idumban

Balakrishnan Sivaranjan (15) from Thalawakelle who is pretended to be the Lord Vairavar or Idumban gets into a trance

Devotees sit in many lines for the Anna Thaanam

Priest and the devotees wait at the entrance of Lord Vairavar or Idumban

Nallan Ravi (28) from Thalawakelle dances with Kaavadi

It is a tradition to offer food at the end of a pooja or festival to Lord Vairavar or Idumban

Many men volunteered to take care of many things during the festival

Rice and curries are offered to Lord Vairavar or Idumban

Anna Thaanam (issue of free meals or food) is being served to the devotees at the Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty

Trays of flowers and other items for Pooja are kept for sale around the Lorenz Road

Many devotees believe par taking in Anna Thaanam is a blessing

Lights are lit up on the Raaja Kopuram of Sammankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty


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