Athirathram, the most ancient 12-day Vedic ritual, will be performed with utmost gusto and devotion in Panjal (Kerala) from April 4 to 12 April in 2011. The first stage of Yagam starts with Naandeemukham and the last stage of Athirathram ends with Yajnapuchham. Here are the details of daily rituals during in Athirathram Yagam.
First day: Naandeemukham to Saalaapravesham, Deekshaahassu
The Yajamana and his priests enter into the ritual enclosure carrying three sacred fires in pots. The ‘Ukha pot’, the main ritual vessel is prepared from clay.
An animal sacrifice (symbolic) is performed for Vayu.
The five chief priests (adhvaryu, brahman, hota, udgata, and sadasya) are officially selected. Fire is produced by friction.
An isti is performed and is followed by the consecration of (diksa) of the Yajamana (a turban is tied around his head, he is protected by a golden breast plate, he is given a staff and he closes his fists and deprived of speaking (except for recitations), from bathing etc.
The Yajamana picks up the Ukha pot, which is filled with fire, and takes three steps with it.
Second day: Pravargya Samhaaram
The mahavira pot, main ritual vessel of the pravargya, is prepared from clay.
Third day: Yoopam Kollal
A sacrificial pole is made. To the east of the old enclosure, in which the three altars have already been made, the measurements of the mahavedi and of the bird-shaped offering altar are laid out.
Fourth day: Agnichayanam (construction of the Altar)
The new domestic altar replaces the old offering altar one. The adhvaryu consecrates each brick. The fire from Ukha pot is added to the installed fire. An introductory isti is performed .The ‘purchased’ Soma stalks are measured, transport in Somacart on the bullock skin. King soma is installed on a throne and an isti is performed in honor of him .Except Yajamana and chanters, sprinkle Soma. The Indra, god’s etc is invited to attend the forth -coming Soma pressing. The first pavargya and Upasad are performed. The seeds are sown in the plowed ground and buried several items like tortoise, the Ukha pot, The hiranmaya Purusha etc…The construction of bird shaped altar started with a stone at the center. All bricks are consecrated by adhvryu. The Pravargya and Upsad performed.
Fourth day to Ninth day : Pravargyam & Upaasath
After the morning pravargya and Upasa , the second, third, fourth layer of the altar is laid on respective days. The evening Pravargya and Upsad follow. Next day, after the morning Pravargya and Upasad, the fifth layer is laid with svayamatranna in the center. The Yajamana wishes the bricks to turn into cows. Offerings are made to Rudra. The udgata chants around the bird, and a man pours continuous stream of water around the bird, three times. The evening Pravargya and Upsad follows. The implements used in the pravargya are put down on the new altar in the shape of a man .The agni from new domestic altar is installed on the new offering altar. Long continuous oblation of ghee is made followed by other oblation and offerings. The hall of recitation is made .The animal sacrifice is performed.
Tenth to Twelfth day: Suthy Suthyam days and finally Yajnapuchham
The ceremonies from tenth day will continue throughout out the next two days and nights. The tenth day is known as sutya. Pressing of soma begins after the hota’s morning recital and Soma oblations are offered. Some priests including Yajamana crawl in snake like procession on to altar for offering. In the north of altar the three chant bahispavamana-stothra. Numerous rites are performed simultaneously .Fires are installed in hearths in the recital hall also. Eleven animals are sacrificed (1975, only symbolic).Except Acchavaka Soma juice in the sadas. And hota recites sastra recitation. .Like this four Soma sequence are performed. Soma offering is made into the offering fire.
During the pressing on the mid day, gravastut recites Rgveda verses with blind folded cloth in which Soma was wrapped. .The Yajamana is anointed.
The remaining 14 Soma sequences continue through eleventh day, night upto the dawn of twelfth day. On the twelfth day unnetha priest make two Soma offerings for Indra Ancestral rites are performed. The Yajamana and Yajamanapathni take avabhratha bath followed by a concluding isti is performed and final goat is sacrificed (1975, only symbolic). The Yajamana installs three fires on his home after returning to the home .He perform morning and evening Agnihothra for the rest of his life!
This article is a guest post by Mr. Sandeep Varma who will be covering Panjal Athirathram 2011 and updating us.