Sri Raja Rajeshwara temple, Telangana Is A Holy Site For Many
The Sri Raja Rajeshwara temple is located at Vemulawada, which is 38 kilometers from Karimnagar in Telangana. According to legends, this temple was built by Sage Parashurama before the commencement of the Kali Yug and was renovated by the kings belonging to the Mushika Kolathiri dynasty. The temple received its present form in the eleventh century.
Influence on religion and culture
The temple called the Raja Rajeshwara Temple Andhra is one of the most sacred places in the Hindu religion. A theatre in the Sanskrit language called Koodiyattam is performed here whose origin is almost 2000 years old. This theater is typical of Kerala and is the only surviving example of its kind. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and non-Hindus who visit the complex are not allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Men can go in and pray inside the sanctum sanctorum at any time of the day or night. But women are allowed to enter only after five p.m. As per the schedule, the most important days for worshipping Lord Shiva are Wednesdays, which is different from other places where Lord Shiva is worshipped on Mondays.
The presiding deity
Lord Shiva is the presiding deity with the “Jyothirlingam” representing the god. As with all other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, people address their prayers to the Linga, which is the main deity. The sanctum sanctorum has four doors on each side of the temple of which only the doors on the eastern and southern sides are opened for the pujas. The other doors remain closed. The view to the presiding deity is accessible through the eastern door on two occasions, once at 5.30 am and the second time at 9.30am in the morning.
Details of idol
The Jyothirlingam is lighted up by an array of ghee lamps that hang from two sides. The most auspicious holy lamp is called “Bhadradeepam” which was supposed to have been lighted by the sage Agasthya himself when he had installed this linga. It is kept to the left of the Shiva linga. Holy lamps burning ghee are kept on the floor to give more light to the linga. A golden Prabha is situated at the back of the deity while the face of a mystical being named Vyaalimukham hangs above the deity.
Other nearby shrines
A small shrine dedicated to the guardian deity Yakshi is located on the northern side of the main shrine. The guardian deity represents benevolence and prosperity instead of malevolence that is the case normally. The Idol of this deity is made of wood. The shrine of Goddess Annapoorneshwari is located in the south-west corner while the shrine of goddess Bhadrakaali is on the west of the main shrine.
Worship and rituals
The deity is worshipped with pots of ghee that are kept on the steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum. Every day in the morning, the floral decorations that were placed in the previous day are removed. The sacred water from Ganga Thirtam is brought, and the deity is bathed with it to complete the Abhishekam. Then the deity is adorned with fresh garlands made of flowers, and the puja called “Natravat” starts. The next puja called “Pantheeradi” starts after this puja is completed. Then the garlands are removed, and the “Navaka” puja is performed. Normally at other temples the Abhishekam and the Navaka pujas are done on only days that are auspicious. But they are performed daily at this temple.
Festivals and special occasions
Shivratri is the most important and auspicious day when devotees worship Lord Shiva in this temple. The start of the Malayalam year starts from this period. The day before the auspicious event, the idol of Lord Krishna is brought from the Thrichabaram temple for few hours and worshipped here along with Lord Shiva. The Balibimbam is one of the pujas that are performed during this festival. An elephant is dressed up in caparison, and other decorations are taken on a round of the temple grounds. Priests recite Hymns and play instruments as the elephant goes round the temple.
Another festival when hundreds of people worship Lord Shiva at this temple is on the occasion of the harvesting season or Sankranti. This festival is called Vishnu and takes place in the month of July and pujas are performed during Nira and Sankraman. The festival is held annually starting from the first week of March and stretching over 21 days.
Pilgrimage to Vemulawada
Hindus from all over the country and neighboring countries come to this place for pilgrimage As it is the place where the head of Sati had fallen it is of utmost importance to the followers of the Hindu faith. Earlier people used to come here on a pilgrimage that included two more temples called Thrichambaram Sree Krishna Temple and the Kanjirangad Sree Vaidyanatha Temple, but the custom has been abandoned for some time now. This pilgrimage was called Moonnambalam.
Timings of Puja
As per the Raja Rajeshwara Temple timing, the temple is opened for pujas every day at 5 am in the morning and closes at 12 noon after the “Uchha” puja is completed. The pujas held during the mornings include “Kanikku Thurakkal” or opening ceremony that is held at 5 am followed by “Natravat” puja at 7 am. Next the “Pathiradi” puja is performed at 8 am and the “Uchha” puja at 8.30am. The closing ceremony is called “Nada Adakkal” which is performed at 12 noon. In the evening, the pujas start at 5 pm with the “Nada Thurakkal” opening ceremony which is followed by the “Deeparadhana” puja at 6 pm. Next the “Athazha” puja is performed at 7.45 pm with the “Nada Adkkal” or closing ceremony coming next at 8.30 pm