BENGALURU: Melkote’s Cheluvanarayanaswamy Temple follows a ritual of worship that turns a 1,000 years old this year. To mark this occasion, a book written by Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal in association with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was released recently.
Titled ‘Ritual Enactment in Temple Tradition’ it elaborates on the different rituals and traditions followed even today in this temple where three empires -- Hoysala, Vijayanagar and Wodeyar -- worshipped.
The author, a art historian, says that she has been interested in this subject for the last 30 years. This former Academic Head of IGNCA Southern Regional Centre adds that she has been researching in different areas and one of them was temple culture and tradition. “IGNCA has given me a lot of support,” she says. “It furthers art and culture by focussing on research and documentation.”
The millenium-old tradition in Cheluvanarayanasvami Temple was started by Sri Ramanujacharya, the 11th C philosopher and exponent of Vishishtadvaita.
A large part of Choodamani’s research was done over three years, 2005 to 2007. The book details on the ritual that lasts for a year and it took her two more years -- between 2015 and 2017 -- to complete this. It is complete with a DVD that runs for one-hour showing the different rituals in the temple.
The origin of this ritual system can be traced back to Pancharatra Agama, a central text to Sri Ramanujacharya’s philosophy.
The ritual has 64 variations and each has its own objective and chants. To name a few there are Vedic chants, Alvar chanting and Sangeeta Ramayana (in the form of music).
Choodamani believes that rituals must be preserved as intangible heritage. “Heritage is tangible and intangible,” she says. “Tangible includes architectural structures and intangible includes rituals and chanting. If there are no rituals, then temples themselves start to lose their meaning. They are reduced to a structure.”