Sivagiri is a pilgrimage centre in Varkala municipality of Trivandrum where the tomb of the Bhagavan Sree Narayana Guru is. The town is also the place where Guru believed himself to have become enlightened. His tomb attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days, from 30 December to 1 January.
So this weekend, we got a chance to visit Sivagiri, since we went to Varkala to visit one of my elderly relations. Since Sivagiri is very close to it, thought of showing this place to our viewers. Sivagiri is a very ancient place and is known from the 20th century. The place is famous for Sree Narayanaguru and his tomb. A Saraswathy temple at the front part witnesses to marriage functions, choroonu, ezhuthu and all. The place is common for weddings, since it is affordable to the common man. It is also one of Sreenarayana guru’s principles that common man should be able to do things without much difficulty. One God, One Religion, One Caste For a human being – this is one of the great sayings of Narayana Guru.
Though I have been to this place multiple times in my childhood and later on, I never came to know all these info till I visited today. There is also a stage at the front that hosts events like dance, speech and is a good place for rejuvenation of body and mind.
People take Vrutham/fasting for 10 days – body, mind, food, word and actions before coming for the Pilgrimage in yellow costumes.
A must visit place if you are in Varkala.
The Sivagiri Mutt, built in 1904, is situated at the top of the Sivagiri hill in Varkala municipality of Trivandrum. This is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham, an organisation of his disciples and saints, established by the Guru to propagate his concept of “One Caste, One Religion, One God”. The Guru Deva Jayanti, the birthday of the Guru, and the samadhi day are celebrated in August and September respectively every year. Colourful processions, debates and seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts, group wedding and rituals mark the celebrations.
Gurudevan’s association with Sivagiri in Varkala in south Kerala dates to 1904. Varkala used to be known as the southern Benares. A lover of nature and places radiant with natural beauty Narayana Guru built a hermitage on made a hermitage on top of the Sivagiri hill and stayed there. He grew some plants around the place. That solitary hill began to attract public attention ever since Gurudevan appeared there. In course of time the Travancore state government granted the Sivagiri hill to Gurudevan and the people gave some of the surrounding places to him as gifts. Later Sivagiri grew into the nerve centre of Sree Narayana movements.
Sivagiri pilgrimage, known as Sivagiri Theerthadanam in Malayalam, too has distinctive characters which make it different from other religious pilgrimages. Sree Narayana Guru’s followers, Vallabhasseri Govindan Vaidyar and T K Kittan Writer were the main persons behind such a concept and it was duly approved by Guru. Hearing the concept of Sivagiri pilgrimage the Guru was pleased and he said the pilgrims should congregate at the beginning of the European New Year. It usually falls in the Malayalam month of Dhanu and the pilgrims are asked to observe 10-days purification. The purification process should be based on Buddha’s principles of five purities – body, food, mind, word, deed and he said. According to the Guru, the aim of pilgrimage should be the creation of comprehensive knowledge among the people. It will help in their overall development and prosperity, he believed. Hence the goals of the pilgrimage were set as Education, Cleanliness, Devotion to God, Organisation, Agriculture, Trade, Handicrafts and Technical training. The Guru also insisted that the pilgrims should wear yellow clothes.
The first Sivagiri Pilgrimage
The first Sivagiri Pilgrimage started from the village of Elavumthitta and pilgrims were P.K. Divakara Panicker, P.K.Kesavan, P.V. Raghavan, M.K. Raghavan, S. Sankunni. They wore yellow dress and all the way to Sivagiri, recited Swaathanthra gadha (Freedom song) which was written by Kumaran Asan. The Guru also asked them to organise a series of lectures and asked them to put into practice the principles derived from these expert lectures. The Guru wanted the pilgrims to overcome the darkness of knowledge through this pilgrimage and to attain a higher level of spirituality through enlightenment. In short, the pilgrimage helps the pilgrims to have a thorough physical and spiritual clean up and it also marks the Guru’s amazing quality to train people to keep pace with the modernity. The pilgrimage today also becomes a commemoration of Guru’s life and visions and it gives an opportunity for introspection. Thus the visions put forward by the Guru help us reach an exalted level of spirituality with the help of knowledge.
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