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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Travancore Devaswom Board To Rerecord Lord Ayyappa's Lullaby

"Harivarasanam," a Sanskritised Malayalam song written in 'astakam' (eight stanza) metre, is recited at the hillock shrine located in Pathanamthitta district of the state, routinely as an "urakku paattu" (lullaby) for the deity.


Travancore Devaswom Board To Rerecord Lord Ayyappa's Lullaby

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the famed Sabarimala temple, is getting ready to re-record with changes a devotional song, played every night to put Lord Ayyappa, the principal deity, to sleep.

"Harivarasanam," a Sanskritised Malayalam song written in 'astakam' (eight stanza) metre, is recited at the hillock shrine located in Pathanamthitta district of the state, routinely as an "urakku paattu" (lullaby) for the deity.

The TDB wants to bring out the song afresh by adding a word that exists in its original text and missing in the popular musical version, and by correcting a pronunciation error.

Though there are many versions of 'Harivarasanam,' the one rendered by legendary Carnatic vocalist and playback singer K J Yesudas and composed in the popular musical format by iconic composer late G Devarajan, is being played for decades at the temple after final poojas.

The newly-appointed TDB president A Padmakumar said the word 'swamy' was there in every line of the original devotional song, believed to have been penned in 1920s, and it might have been omitted for the easiness of rendition when it was brought out in the musical format. "Swamy" is a term used as honorific title addressing a male deity in Hindu belief.

"We want the song to be sung as in the original text.. Besides this, the famous line that goes 'Ari Vimardhanam' should be spelt separately which is rendered as a single world in the present version," Mr Padmakumar told PTI.

Yesudas, who himself is an ardent devotee of Lord Ayyappa and a regular visitor of the shrine, had admitted some time back that the words 'ari (enemy) and 'vimardhanam' (destroy) should have been spelt separately.

Yesudas had originally sung 'Harivarasanam' song for the 1975 Malayalam film, 'Swamy Ayyappan' and recorded the song afresh later, which has since been played at the shrine. "I have already discussed the matter with Yesudas.. He is in United States at present and is expected to come to Kerala later this month to attend a private function.. I hope that we can fix the final date of rerecording at that time," he said.

Incidentally, Mr Padmakumar is the descendant of Konnakathu Janaki Amma, who is believed to have written 'Harivarasanam' over nine decades ago.

For long, it was believed that Kambakudi Kulathur Srinivasa Iyer had originally penned the devotional song.

But, the descendants of Janaki Amma came up with a claim some time back that she had originally authored the song.

She had submitted the song to the temple as an offering to the deity through her father Ananthakrishna Iyer, who served as the 'melsanthi' (chief priest) of Sabarimala temple from 1907-20, the family said.

"We have the original handwritten notes of the song by her to prove the authorship.. In all records, Srinivasa Iyer's name is mentioned as 'sambadakan' (compiler) of the song," he said.

During those days, people would not write their name when a creative work was submitted as an offering at the temple.

That might be the reason she did not mention her name underneath the song, Padmakumar, also a former MLA, said.

According to sources, it was believed that Swami Vimochanananda had sung the song for the first time at Sabarimala.

The practise was to play it at the end of the day's rituals since 1950s and the tradition is continuing till date, they said.

Marking the beginning of the pilgrimage season, the Sabarimala Lord temple opened on November 15 for the three-month annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.

Thousands of people, from and outside the state, are visiting the hillock shrine every day to catch a glimpse of Lord Ayyappa and offer worship.

Security in and around the temple has been tightened in view of the heavy rush.

The 41-day Mandalam festival will conclude on December 26 after Mandala pooja.

The temple would reopen for the Makaravilakku festival on December 30.

The Makaravilakku will be celebrated on January 14.

More than 4.5 crore devotees offered prayers at the temple during the festival season last year.

Kerala Police Issue Alert To Railway Station On Possible Poisoning Of Sabarimala Pilgrims By Islamic State Terrorists

This alert has come less than two weeks after Outlook first reported about a Malayalam audio clip from the Islamic State terrorist calling for war against India

Kerala Police Issue Alert To Railway Station On Possible Poisoning Of Sabarimala Pilgrims By Islamic State Terrorists
The Kerala police have issued an alert to the Thrissur railway station on possible poisoning of Sabarimala Temple pilgrims by the Islamic State terrorists.
A letter issued by Thrissur Railway Police Station Sub-Inspector to the station manager states that the police have received intelligence reports about Islamic State’s plan to poison drinking waters served to non-Muslim group of passengers in trains and at railway stations.
“Therefore, please take necessary actions to ensure safety of the drinking water and food served to Sabarimala pilgrims and other pilgrims,” says the letter in Malayalam, a copy of which is with the Outlook.

This alert has come less than two weeks after
 Outlook first reportedabout a Malayalam audio clip from the Islamic State terrorist calling for war against India and conducting lone-wolf terror attacks  on crowds thronging Indian festival events like Kumbh Mela and Thirssur Pooram. It had even asked to poison non-Muslims.When contacted by Outlook, sources in the police have confirmed the authenticity of the letter.
Outlook had confirmed from police sources that the audio clip was transmitted over Telegram Messenger from Afghanistan and its voice belonged to Rashid Abdullah, the leader of the Kasaragod IS module who had left to join Islamic State in Afghanistan.
 “You use your intellect. Poison them in food. Use trucks. Drive over them at Thirssur pooram or at Maha Kumbh Mela. IS Mujahideen are doing it in several parts of the world.  In Las Vegas, one of our supporters killed many people at a music concert. At least you should try to derail a train. Or use a knife,” he was heard saying in the clip.

When asked about the alert to the railway station manager, a senior officer in the Kerala  railway police said, “It is not a thing for the public to panic. It was meant only for the consumption of our officers. This is not an imminent threat. It is a general alert.” 
When contacted by Outlook, sources in the Kerala police did not answer whether the alert to the railway station manager was based on the IS voice clip. However, the subject line in the sub-inspector’s letter does mention about the IS plan to play truck over crowds, which was a major theme in the IS voice clip. Also, in the letter, the first alert in this regard has been marked as received on November 14, which is a day after the IS voice clip surfaced.

Monday, November 27, 2017

TDB to widen free food distribution system

The heavy rush of pilgrims on the premises of the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala on Tuesday | Shaji Vettipuram
SABARIMALA:  The Travancore Devaswom Board will streamline and widen the free food distribution system with the broad objective of  covering all the pilgrims coming for darsan and bringing devaswom employees on duty at Sannidhanam under the programme.TDB president A Padmakumar told Express, as part of streamlining the free food distribution system, adequate number of experienced volunteers would be deployed at the free food distribution hall to ensure supply of sufficient food items to the pilgrims.
To ensure uninterrupted supply of food items round-the-clock to the pilgrims, adequate number of volunteers would be deployed on a rotation and shift basis, he said.
TDB to seek support and help from other states
The TDB president said the devaswom authorities would seek support and assistance from like-minded people and companies for the successful implementation and functioning of the free food distribution scheme.Padmakumar expressed confidence in mobilising adequate funds and food materials for free food distribution. As part of the mobilisation of funds and food items, the TDB would launch a campaign among the ‘guruswamis’ and like-minded individuals and companies, Padmakumar said.
For the implementation of the free food coverage, funds would not be a hurdle if the response from the devotees is any indication, he said. As part of monitoring the free food distribution system, a team headed by a devaswom official in the rank of assistant commissioner is already working on it round-the-clock, he said.
Free food coverage to be widened
The TDB president said that as part of widening the free food coverage , the TDB would take up maximum campaign to include all the pilgrims who come for darsan of Lord Ayyappa to participate in the free food distribution.
As part of the widening the free food coverage, the TDB is preparing a plan to bring all the devaswom employees working at the Sannidhanam under the free food distribution at the Annadanamandapam.
To begin with, the members of the devaswom board have already started having food from the Annadanamandapam near Malikappuram temple, Padmakumar said.
Curbs on tractor traffic hit goods movement
Sabarimala: The restrictions on tractors carrying goods from Pampa to Sannidhanam, limiting midnight to 3 am, have affected the functioning of hotels, food stalls and others. Lorries carrying vegetables and fruits were blocked by the police at Chalakkayam in the name of the restrictions and were allowed to move to Pampa only after midnight.
On reaching Pampa, the tractors failed to carry the items from Pampa to Sannidhanam owing to the heavy traffic between Chalakkayam and Pampa nadapandal. In addition, the tractors carrying ingredients for prasadam production, including jaggery, caused traffic bottlenecks affecting the movement of goods. On the request of the Travancore Devaswom Board for carrying raw materials for prasadam production, the special commissioner allowed tractor traffic for TDB between noon and 3 pm. However, hoteliers and other merchants threatened to close down the establishments owing to the shortage of vegetables, fruits and other items.
15-yr-old girl apprehended at Pampa
 A 15-year-old girl dressed in trousers and T-shirt was apprehended by the devaswom women employees at the Pampa checkpost at 10.30 am on Tuesday. The girl, in the restricted age, was among the 15-member team from Nelloor district in Andhra Pradesh on the way to the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple. The devaswom women employees allowed the ‘irumudi’ carried by the girl to be taken to the Sannidhanam by the team as part of the ongoing practice.

Tavancore Devaswom Board to do away with special darshan facility at Sabarimala

Sabarimala temple (File photo)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided to do away with the special darshan facility being given to those who contribute more than Rs 1,000 for the Annadanam fund at Sabarimala.
Briefing the board’s decisions at the Devaswom headquarters here, president A Padmakumar said the previous board’s decision to grant special darshan facility was taken with good intention. But in view of the displeasure expressed by devotees, the special darshan facility based on contributions would be done away with. No agency outside the Devaswom Board had been entrusted to collect contributions.
Devotees can continue to pay contributions at the annadanam counter. He said besides the existing Vigilance squad under the board, another squad under the direct supervision of the board president would be set up to ensure that the temples were being administered effectively.
The Devaswom employees would be brought under an insurance scheme similar to the one being implemented for government employees.
He said the board had conducted a preliminary study on its financial position. The propaganda that there was severe financial crisis in the board was not true. He said die-in-harness appointments would be allowed in the board. 
State police, Central forces put in charge

Sabarimala: With the aim of ensuring the safety and security of pilgrims flocking to the hill shrine, personnel from the state police and the Central RAF and NDRF have been deployed at Sabarimala. There are around 1,500 state police personnel, including officers, working in three shifts for controlling the multitudes thronging the Sannidham. For the smooth functioning and operational efficiency of the security apparatus, the hill shrine has been split into nine sectors(zones).
L7 crore increase in revenue
Padmakumar said there was an increase of over Rs 7 crore in the  revenue at Sabarimala as on the 6th day of the current pilgrim season. Compared to the revenue of Rs16.45 crore as on the 6th day of the season last year, the revenue had increased to Rs 23.76 crore on the same day this year.
He also said V S Jayakumar, former executive officer, Sabarimala, and brother of former Devawom Minister  V S Sivakumar, was removed from the post on the directive of the High Court pending Vigilance probe against him.
On the Cheruvally estate issue, the president said the board would not allow anyone to steal the land of the board. He said a large area of Devaswom land had been grabbed by various people in the past. 
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