Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How the Sastha Preethi are sung in Nurani

How the Sastha Preethi are   sung in  Nurani

(From a  book called Nurani  Sastha preethi Padal  published by Sri N.E.Padmanabhan and  Sri N.E.Anantheswaran  in 2005)

In Nurani Sastha Preethi  is not a   one or two days function.  The festival starts  from  the commencement of the Mandalam every year. Around 9 Pm   all devotees assemble   in the temple   for
the ardhajama pooja  and sing   Bhajans  in conventional  style  peculiar to Nurani  .Changalavatta( Oil lamp hanging on a chain) is lighted and after breaking coconut in the Sastha  SAnnidhi  and after three pradakshinams accompanied by Nadaswaram , all devotees sit   in two opposite lines facing each other at  the  Sastha sannidhi. Destined Bhagawathar with the permission of elders  commences  the songs  as per Padathi (Practice)  giving importance to Sastha songs , natta, thodaya mangalam,  viruthams  , keerthanams   and then Deeparadhana is performed. After Deeparadhana   and distribution of prasadams    concluding  poojas   and songs continue. Manthra pushpam, Swarna pushpam  , Chathurveda parayanam   and Aseervadams  are chanted.One stanza from shiva ashtakam , ashtapadi and a keerthanam  , followed by thevaram  , virutham, pathyam  , venpa , kalithurai  , NaLANGU, Kummi , Choornikai, Oonjal   Nadai chuthal   and Vazthu follow.
    In the fourth and fifth week of the mandalam  , after singing the usual songs  an auspicious   Wednesday or Saturday is selected    for starting the “Avesha Pattu”  , For this , senior devotees   prostrate  before the Lord Dharma Sastha and seek permission   from the president and members as well as elders  of the village   to commence the Sastha songs. Afterwards  Avesha pattu is  sung on all wednedays and Saturdays till Sastha preethi. These songs  alert  the devotees   and create inspiration   and Bhakthi in them . The Komaram or Velichappadu  known as Narthakas  dance around the temple   to the tune of the songs to add gaiety to the occasion. Senior Komaram   is given  Sword and big rings(Thandai)   and are adorned with Koorai(Red cloth)  They dance around the temple   distributing Vibhuthi prasdams, which instuills   faith and devotion.
     These songs are  to be sung only  in the traditional way  and ragas/.thalams   should not be changed   to maintain    age old tradition    and the sentiments   and devotion which go with these  songs.
Preceding wedneday before Sastha preethi , Sastha  savarna  sahasranama   archana to Sastha is performed and on Thursday  1008  SAnku pooja   and Abishekam   to Lord Maha Vishnu are performed. Further  Poorna dravya  abishekam to Sastha  and Kalababishekam to  Vishnu are    also performed.
     On the auspicious Saturday   after mandalam  Sastha pretha is scheduled  except on Shukla Sashti , Ekadasi , Amavasya and Pournami.
     After all great religious observations  on the Sastha preethi day , which includes a great feast , at night  Vanji Pattu commences.  After four pradakshinams of the temple  , all devotees assemble together and sing all the songs as usual. 


  1. I am N.P.Ramakrishnan a Nuranian but resident of Singapore. Mr Ramachander in the introduction to the Nurani Sastha Preethi songs you have mentioned who and how these sons were compiled and its origin. I was pleased to note that it was my ancestor who had a hand in compiling it.

    I am the third generation of the Asthana Vidwan of Swathi Thirunal's court Nurani Parameswara Bhagavathar. I don't know from which source you got the information that Parameswara Bhagavathar compiled or collected these songs but my father grandson of the Asthana Vidwan told me his father the youngest son of Nurani Parameswara Bhagavathar was also responsible for compiling the lyrics for these songs. In fact many Nuranian have contributed in preparing these Nurani Sastha Preethi songs.

    I agree they are unique I was also wondering why there is reference to Kulathooril Ayyan. After going through your write up I now understand its origin. You have done a great job. I am a octogenarian having lived the greater part my life in Singapore. A citizen of this little Island state.

    In fact my father and a group of relatives organized a Sastha Preethi in Singapore in the Brahmin Association in 1928 based on the Nurani Model I revived it in 1965 following the Nurani format. But now they have introduced new songs as the old Nurani Saatha Preethi songs were based on ragas which the present generation are not keen to follow. You have done a marvelous job in transliterating it in English.

  2. I got the information from an introduction to the collection of songs. I think I must not have written correctly.Possibly I should have written that Noorani Parameswara Bhagawathar was one of those who contributed to this collection. I am73 and I think it is but proper to inform my Namaskarams to you , Ramachander

  3. Respected Sir,

    I am sure your information is correct as you would have obtained it from the Nurani Grama Samooham's archives. Having stayed in Nurani only from 1942 to 1949 during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore for my Education and graduation I came back to Singapore. Hence, whatever was revealed to me about the Sastha Songs was my father..

    When I recommenced the Sastha Preethi in Singapore after the war in 1965 I sought my father's help as after retiring he settled down in Nurani. It was at that time he said that his father Ramakrishna Bahgavathar the youngest son of Nurani Parameswara Bahgavathar, had also contributed lyrics the Nurani Sastha songs.

    He also guided me to conduct Sastha Preethi in our Nurani tradition but in Singapore our Kerala Iyers, though a majority, there are also a number lf typical Tamil Iyers from Tanjore, Tinnelveli, Kumbakonam and even Karantaka and Telegu Brahmins. So in due course, all songs from various locations were incorporated.

    Now the Nurani Sastha Song Format has totally disappeared.

    The revived Sastha Preethi in 1965 is now conducted for the 48th Year without a break, although it was first started in 1928 but was discontinued for a long period .

    It was revived by me and some Kerala Brahmin friends together with others. The SDBBS is now headed by our new expatriate Indians who come from various regions in India so they have introduced several new features in keeping with new generations views.

    I seldom take a leading part as I have immobility problems but try to attend the function as far as possible.

    Swamiye Saranam Ayyapa.

  4. I happened to witness the Sastha Preethi celebrations at Nurani Village, Palakkad two years back, i.e. in 2011. I was there just for the last two days. What I observed was that while the deity was being taken around the agraharams, the bhagavathars initially sung the sastha songs one by one and each song was followed by the nagaswaram vidwans playing the song sung by the bhagavathars on the nagaswaram in the same metre. Do you have any idea as to where I could get a copy of a recordedCD containing all the Sastha songs with nagaswaram music intermittently. Thanks and regards. S P Sarma, Kollam, Kerala (