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.