Kerala village hosts 4,000-year-old ritual for world peace

April 4th, 2011 - 10:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) A 4,000-year-old Vedic ritual began in a village in Kerala’s Thrissur district Monday after a gap of 35 years for world peace and prosperity. The ritual will last 12 days till April 15.

Athirathram, one of the oldest surviving Vedic rituals, is being organised in Panjal village.

The ritual involves invocation of fire god and is accompanied by sacrifice and chanting of Vedic “mantra” round-the-clock, said a statement issued by the Varthathe Trust, which is organising the festival said.

The extract of the leaves of the ancient Soma plant - which caused the mythical celestial war between the gods and the demons - is used for the ritual as a ceremonial offering. Soma is earliest known intoxicant used by the Vedic races.

Several foreign scholars, including noted Dutch Indophile and Vedic scholar Frits Staal, who recorded the last Athirathram in 1975, are expected to attend the ritual.

A team of senior scientists led by the director of International School of Photonics, Cochin University (CUSAT) and Emeritus Scientist at Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR), V.P.N. Namboothri, is to study the impact of the ritual on nature and micro-organisms. The ritual is said to bring rain and good harvest.

The first day of the fire ritual began with the lighting the sacred fire by creating friction of two sticks as in the way ancient Vedic people did. Once the sparks appeared, they were fanned and put into sacred pots.

On the first day, the “yajamana or the chief priest and his entourage of 17 priests entered the ritual enclosure carrying three sacred fires in pots”, the statement said.

The “Ukha”, the main ritual vessel, is made of clay.

Five presiding priests, “adhvaryu”, “brahman”, “hota”, “udgata” and “sadasya” were officially selected during the day.

A turban was tied around the head of the chief priest and he donned a protective golden breast plate. He was given a staff and he closed his fists on the staff and stopped speaking except for recitations.

The yajamana picked up the “Ukha pot”, with fire, and walked three steps with it in a ceremonial gesture, it added.

Hundreds of people from the state have flocked to Panjal to witness the rutual despite the ongoing election in the state.

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