sadAbhishEkam: celebrating a man’s entering his 80th year

My childhood friends, Rajamani and Savithri, celebrated their sadabhishekam on the 26th of February, at the Sankara Matham, Chromepet.

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Rajamani Anna (aNNA is “older brother”) was a cousin of the seven siblings who lived right opposite my parents’ home in Kolkata. He lived with them, and their parents, studying and then working, and the closeness has persisted through the decades. I have been quite close to his younger daughter, too, and jumped at the chance to attend the sadabhishekam.

The 60th and 80th birthdays are traditionally celebrated only when the husband attains those respective ages. Hopefully, we will start celebrating them for women, too, but as of now, the winds of change have not blown that strongly!

A beautiful “kOlam” welcomes everyone into the venue:

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Agni, the god of fire, is invoked in the homam (called “vELvi” in Tamizh), by the priests:

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This perforated plate is a new tradition (I’ve not seen it even 20 years ago), and gold ornaments are put in so that the purified water will pass over the gold, too:

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The thirumanjanam going on.

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Both of Rajamani’s daughters, Swarnamala and Bhavani, are holding the perforated plate.

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The couple, after the abhishekam:

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Friends and family gather:

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The fruits and flowers, and other offerings at the “hOmam”. The “paruppu thEngAi” (those two cones) are made of some kind of sweet:

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Rajamani’s sister applies the “nalangu” (turmeric paste) on Savithri’s feet, as decoration, and puts on the toe-rings:

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I was tickled by the juxtaposition of the age-old traditions of “thAmboolam”, ritual worship…and the modern newspaper, with a contemporary headline:

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The husband ties the sacred thread (mAngalyam) around his wife’s neck. The sadabhishekam is the third such occasion; the second is the shashti abdha poorthi, or “attaining 60 years”.

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The couple then seek the blessings of the audience, which is provided in the form of “akshatha” or ritually sanctified rice:

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(this kind of blessing-with-grain is probably the same in many cultures…I see many couples having confetti thrown over them!)

All hindu weddings have to be witnessed by Agni (fire), who is the ultimate purifier. Here, Agni has sunk into ash and embers:

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Arattai sabhai (gossip sessions!) go on:

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The lunch was delicious:

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“panthi vijArikkarathu” (enquiring hospitably about whether the food is good, and if the guest has had enough of everything) is done by the “host” family:

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Uncle and niece:

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Photographic documentation is obligatory now!

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I like this group photo because it also contains the family who are, today, like my family!

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These are four of the five sisters (the young girl on the left is the daughter of the one sitting next to her) who raised me, as a child. The lady who is sitting second from right is my music guru; she taught me for over 15 years!

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My guru, Meenakshi Rajagopal. How lucky I am, to have a sister-cum-guru!

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Let me close with two short videos.

This thirumanjanam, or ritual bathing in sanctified water. The traditional “gowri kalyANam” is being sung:

mAngalya dhAraNam, or tying of the sacred thread (sorry, I had to take stills, so this is VERY short!)

I hope you enjoyed the sadAbhishEkam as much as I did!

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