Maha Rudram: History Made at Sri Meenakshi Temple


By M.K.Sriram

PEARLAND: History was created at Sri Meenakshi Temple. The great Maha Rudram conducted here this past weekend, took the temple and the city of Houston to new heights, as one of the very few temples and cities in the US to have organized this most important event for Lord Shiva. The status of Maha Rudram is achieved when the count of Rudram chants exceeds the magic number 1331. About 50 ritwiks, under the leadership of the temple priests, took part in the event spread over 2 days. It was a seemingly very difficult goal to achieve, and it took 8 years to get here, but this time with even more energy, total devotion, dedication and team work they climbed this great mountain and attained the Maha status. Many kudos to all.


The event started on Saturday, June 24th at 9 AM. Undaunted by the thunderstorms deluging the Houston area in the early morning hours, the Rudram chanters known as ritwiks as well as ardent devotees from far and wide assembled in the Main temple for the initial Sankalpam. The rains appeared to be an auspicious Punyahavachanam (purification) from the heavens. The preliminary pujas started with Vigneshwara puja, Punyahavachanam and Kalasa stapanam. Then the all powerful Mahanyasam chanting was led by the priests to invoke Lord Rudra in every part of their body and mind. The 50+ ritwiks for the next 3 hours went on the intense chanting of Sri Rudram, eleven times, each time followed by an anuvakam of Chamakam. Hundreds of devotees were held in a trance while the vedic mantra was chanted in unison. The whole atmosphere was filled with the strength and power of Sri Rudram. The morning session concluded with Rudra Trishati archana and upacharam.


The second session started at 5 PM, with the continuation of the Rudram chanting. The priests and ritwiks performed this divine prayer with utter concentration and devotion, and the temple resonated with this vedic mantra. The evening session concluded with a spectacular arathi and upacharam.

The devotees and ritwiks gathered again on Sunday, June 25th morning to continue with the chanting of Sri Rudram, the greatest Vedic offering to Lord Shiva. Goddess Meenakshi being the Veda Matha was surely smiling with happiness when she heard all the Veda ghosham in the temple from ritwiks, some of whom came from as far away as Dallas. The great Rudra Homam was then performed with such meticulous detail with the priests making the offerings to the Fire with the chanting of Sri Rudram. The final part of the Homam was the Vasodhara which was performed to the chant of the Chamakam. This was followed by Purnahuthi.

The priests then led a procession with the holy kalasams on their heads, around the deities in the Main temple. An elaborate Abhishekam was performed for Lord Sundarewara that was witnessed by over 400 devotees. The curtains were drawn briefly for Alankaram, and when they opened up again, Lord Sundareswara in His most majestic form gave darshan to the devotees. The devotees were engulfed by the power of the Lord, and this was the greatest reward that the devotees could ever imagine they would receive. The final Arathi and Upacharam were very remarkable. As soon as the final arathi was complete, it was a miracle to see and feel rain drops falling from a sunny sky. Lord Sundareswara’s divine presence and blessings were felt.

It was amazing to see the wide variety of prasadams that were so lovingly prepared by the devotees in their homes and brought for the neivedyam by the grace of the Lord. More than 400 people had a sumptuous lunch. All in all, this was a most divine and blissful event that was well organized and conducted by the Temple under the leadership of the Chairman of the Board Sri Narayanan, the Religious Activity Committee led by Vice Chairman Dr Padmini Nathan, Priests Manicka Bhattar, Kalyana Sundaram, Balaji and Parameshwaran ably supported by the silpis and staff of the temple. The event co-cordinator Sri Muthukumar and other volunteers put in countless hours of work and co-ordination.

Special mention is to be made that the Shankaracharya of Kanchi personally blessed this event and blessed each of the ritwiks and priests with specially ordered vastrams (dhothies). A most devoted family who wish to remain anonymous presented each of the participant with a special gift from India. Last but not the least were the ritwiks themselves who performed this historical feat with the blessings of Lord Sundareswara, to make this a very divine and fulfilling event. Many devotees and ritwiks could not help thinking if they were actually in the US, or was this all happening in India. The prayer “Nama Parvathy Pathe, Hara Hara Mahadeva” still reverberates in their hearts.