Friday, 27 December 2013

ANKURA ARPANAM. Before laying of the actual foundation in any holy, temple, educational or ashram site, the Earth Goddess herself is impregnated in a symbolic process known as ankura-arpana. Ankura meaning seed and arpana signifying an offering. So, akurarpanam means ‘sowing of the seed.’ In this ritualistic process, seeds are planted at the selected site on an auspicious day. Traditionally, nava dhanya or nine types of grains are planted in 16, 12 or 8 earthen pots known as Palikas made of gold, silver, copper or mud pots.

The details of exact size, shape for palikas should be taken from any standard Agama texts. Samurtarchanadhikarana states "Ankurarpana hinam yatkarma ca asuramiritam" - any festival that is celebrated without amkurarpana in a temple is of a demonic nature and hence is not desirable. The essence of this ritual is to make a sankalpa to celebrate a Utsavam or festival and get the grace of the Lord. Sastras prescribe doing ankurarpana nine days before the festival and if not possible seven, five or three days before Brahmotsavam.

The nine types of grains represent the navagrahas or the nine celestial planets. Navadhanyas are also part of other Hindu pujas and rituals. The Navadhanya includes Bengal Gram, Wheat, Horse Gram, Green Gram, Rice, White beans, Black Seasame seeds, Chic Peas, Black Gram. Bengal Gram is offered to Jupiter or Guru or Brihaspati. Wheat is offered to Sun or Surya. Horse Gram is offered to Ketu. Green Gram is offered to Mercury or Budha. Rice is offered to moon or Chandra or Soma. White beans is offered to Venus or Shukra. Black Sesame is offered to Shani or Saturn. Chic peas or Chickpea is offered to Mars or Mangal and Black Gram is offered to Rahu. In some regions the Navadanya are rice, wheat, thoor dal, moong dal, chana dal, rajma, sesame, urud dal, horse gram

The planting symbolizes the creation of new life and invites the celestial planets and their Aadhi Devatas in the site in question. The germination is observed after a few days. If the growth is satisfactory, the land is deemed suitable for its purpose.

In temple sites, their germination and growth is seen as the symbolic beginning and prosperous growth of the Temple, or the abode of the God. The divine energy from these three sources are transferred to the idol through the various rituals described, to transform the idol to the Deity with divine power.

In in the Southern Tamil tradition, ankurarpanam is done as part of wedding ceremonies. Muhurtha Kaal, the first pole to the ‘panthal’ or wedding green tent planted three days prior to the wedding proper, sees a square at the base where navadhanya is planted.

The germination of the seed is a metaphor for the fulfillment of the inherent potentialities which lie hidden in Mother Earth, and which by extension are now transferred to the sacred structure destined to come over it.

Curiously healthy germination is also referred to as Lakshmi Gadacham, the blessings of Lakhmi Maa, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity to the exclusion of Her sister Alakshmi, Goddess of Misfortune, Barrenness and Strife. It is not Saraswathi Gadacham or Parvathi Gadacham, get the drift that ‘porul illarkku ivvulakan illai’ those deprived of material wealth are not of this world…! Nature in the Hindu Way of Life. ©Yogeshwarananda Saraswathi. Hara Hara Mahadeva.

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