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Skanda Shashti Mahotsavam - 24/10/14 to 30/10/14

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Introduction :
Temple worship is an important feature of the Hindu way of life all over India. This tradition has been preserved in all its richness, variety and glory in South India more than in other parts. The rulers of the Southern kingdoms - the Triumvirate of Chera, Chola, Pandya dynasties, the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, the rulers of Vijaynagar and even the later day rulers of the former Travancore / Cochin, Mysore and other states were great patrons of religion, temple art and architecture. The fact that the Southern states were relatively free from the onslaughts of foreign invasions also helped. Hence, temple worship has grown as an integral part of everyone’s life in South India.

People from Southern states have carried with them the tradition of temple building wherever they have gone in search of livelihood. It is well known that the Tamils who had migrated to the countries of the Far East and South Africa have built temples there and kept alive their religion, worship art and culture. Even in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, the migrants from South India have established large number of temples to various Deities. Likewise, the Tamilians and Keralites who migrated to cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have built temples in accordance with the South Indian tradition.

Lord Subramania

In the Vedic scriptures, Lord Subramania occupies an important place. The Lord is known by several names – Skandan, Karthikeya, Kumara, etc. “Skaandam” or “Kanda Puranam (in Tamil)” is one of the Eighteen Puranas. In the Vibhuti Yoga (Chapter X of the Gita), Lord Krishna narrates his manifestations in several spheres as an aid to contemplation and in each sphere He is identified with the most excellent specimen available therein, like “Vedaanaam Saama Vedosmi (among Vedas, I am Saama Veda)” “Masaanaam Margaseershoham (among the Hindu Months, I am Margazhi)” etc. The Lord says “Senaneenam aham Skandaha” (I am Skanda among Generals). Skanda was the Commander in Chief of the army of the Gods in their fight against demon Tharaka Suran.The most familiar name of Skanda in Tamil is Murugan. The word Murugan itself denotes beauty. ‘Murugan’ has come to be associated exclusively with the Tamils all over the world. Subramania is worshipped as Murugan just as Krishna is worshipped as Guruvayurappan in Kerala and Panduranga Vittal in Maharashtra.Lord Muruga has Six major temples in Tamil Nadu which are called “Aru Padai Veedugal (Six abodes of the Lord).” Padai in Tamil means army and Veedugal means abodes. The Lord’s Abodes are thus described because he is Commander-in-Chief. These abodes are Thiruparankundram, Thiruchendur, Pazhani, Swamimalai, Thiruthani, and Pazhamudhircholai.

Sri Subramania Samaj

Sri Subramania Samaj was established in 1945, by a group of Muruga devotees in Matunga, Bombay, popularly known as “Mini Madras”. That was the time when most South Indian activities were confined to Matunga, while Chembur and other suburbs were yet to develop. The Samaj, with a BIG portrait of Lord Muruga, conducted all important festivals like Skanda Sashti, Thaipoosam, Panguni Utthiram, etc. as per the tradition. As part of the celebrations, the Samaj brought the best artistes of the times - the best Nadaswara group, Harikatha maestros, Classical Singers and satisfied the yearning of the South Indian community for tasting and enjoying their heritage even while living in distant Mumbai. In fact, the Samaj was the early pioneer in this regard.

An Abode for Lord Muruga in Mumbai

With so many devotees with so much devotion and so many festivals, Lord Muruga became restless to remain within a photo frame and willed that He should have an abode for Himself a “Seventh Padai Veedu” away from Tamil land. The desire to build a Temple for the Lord was immediately born in the minds of the members of the Samaj and soon it became their resolution and determination to build a Temple. The Samaj raised funds through small voluntary donations from Muruga Bhaktas and identified a plot of about 2,300 Sq. yards in Chhedanagar, Chembur, a suburb in Northeast Bombay to construct the temple. Before purchasing the plot the Samaj arranged for a “Ashta Mangala Prasnam” conducted by a team of “Thantris” (i.e. those who are well versed in Thanthra Vidya”) of Kerala to satisfy about the suitability of the plot for building a Temple.
The team of Tantris obtained the very interesting and valuable piece of information about the place. Through centuries, this was the place of Goddess Durga Devi and other Gods. Several Rishis (Sages) performed Thapas seeking the blessings and grace of different Gods. This was considered a good omen and the land was purchased.
The plan for constructing a complex with sanctums for Lord Vinayakar, Lord Muruga, Goddess Durga, Lord Guravayurappan, Lord Dharma Sastha and Navagrahas was drawn. The Plan included community halls to meet the social and cultural needs of the community such as performing marriages, learning Vedas, Bagavad Gita, other spiritual topics and Classical Music & Dance.

The Temple Complex

As enshrined in the Agama Sastras, a Balalayam, was constructed as a prerequisite to start the construction of the main temple. The Kumbhabhishekam of the Balalayam was performed in the presence of Thiru Muruga Kripananda Variyar Swamigal on 5th February 1973. A Temple Construction Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Prof. T.V.Ramanujam, the then President of Shanmukhananda Sabha. Other members of the Committee included -

CHAIRMAN Vice Chaiman MEMBERS Organising Secretary
Prof. T.V.Ramanujam Shri K.K.Unni S.Venkiteswaran Shri P.S.Subramaniyan
V.Ramadurai
K.N.S.Sastri
N.S.Pursram

The foundation stone laying ceremony was held in September 1972. Sivacharyas from Tamil Nadu and Nambudiris from Kerala conducted elaborate “Pancha Silanyasa poojas”. Sri V.S.Page, the then Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, the great Tamil scholar and Editor of Kalaimagal Shri Ki Va Jagannathan and Shri Anjam Madhavan Namboodiri of Guruvayoor, Shri T.V.Ramanujam and Shri S.Ramakrishnan (Director Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan) were among the prominent citizens who participated in the function. They laid the foundation stones for the sanctum sanctorums of the shrines of Vinayakar, Murugan, Guruvayurappan, Durga and Dharma Sastha respectively.
Traditionally, Lord Muruga reigns over the hills and hence, the plan incorporated the design by which the temple will be built at a height of about 50 feet above the ground. To conform to the Agama Sastras, which stipulates that the foundation should touch the earth (Bhoosparisam), the architects planned 5 independent concrete pillars filled with earth for each of the deities. The shrines for Lord Muruga and the other Deities have been constructed on the 3rd floor and the bases of the shrines are in contact with the sand filled-in the vertical concrete pillars.
At the entrance to the temple are two giant pillars made of granite, of 45 feet height which enhance the beauty of the temple and add to its majesty. On top of these pillars, the Rajagopuram is situated. The sculptures on the Rajagopuram (the main entrance tower) and the Vimanam (the vertical structure above the Sanctum Sanctorum) have been designed on the pattern of Chola, Pandya and Pallava architecture.
Two community halls in the ground and first floors respectively and guest rooms, administrative offices in the second floor were designed as part of the plan with separate access. The design was so conceived that the foundation and the structure of the temple are totally independent of the community halls.
There three stair cases – one Main and the others are on the sides. One can reach the temple through the main staircase by climbing 108 steps winding through the foundation pillar for Lord Muruga. The other staircases lead to the community halls as well as to the temple. Two lifts are provided for the convenience of the senior citizens and infirm.
As one winds through the main staircase, one can witness murals installed on the walls, depicting the heroic deeds of Lord Muruga as described in Kanda Puranam (Skaandam).

Temple Architects

The Samaj assigned the job of making the idols and the sanctum sanctorum to Shri Kumaresa Stapathi of Mahabalipuram, near Madras and his son Shri Ramakrishna Sthapathi. Shri Kumaresa Stapathi, the recipient of Presidential award, was the Chief Instructor at the Sculpture Institute, Mahabalipuram. The sculpted idol of Lord Muruga is 4.5’ in height. The stone for this idol had been selected from a place called Mayilam in Tamil Nadu, another sacred place. Similarly, the idols for other deities were made. The Sanctum sanctorums have been built of dark blue granite specially brought from Walajabad in Tamil Nadu. More than 50 artisans worked on the project and took seven years for completion involving the use of 800 tons of granite.
The Uthsava Murthis (the processional Deities) are made with ‘Panchalogam” (an amalgam of five metals) by expert craftsmen from Swamimalai in Tamil Nadu. Yet another feature in the design is the installation of Dwajasthambam” (Flag Staff) in front of the Lord Muruga, the presiding deity. Lord Muruga, with His Consorts, Valli and Devasena, seated on the peacock, in marriage costumes and decoration bestows His grace on devotees. The Moolavar form of the Deity i.e. the sculptured idol which always remains in the Sanctum Sanctorum is adorned with Diamond studded “Vaira Vel” (a Spear) and the Utsava Moorthi is adorned with Golden ‘Vel’.
Located around Lord Muruga’s shrine on all four sides are separate shrines for Vinayakar, Dharma Sastha, (Ayyappa), Guruvayurappan and Durga.
The construction of the Temple Complex is a standing example for inter-religious and inter-communal amity. The architect who had designed the concrete ‘hillock’ is Mr CSK Raj, a Christian and the building contractor who ably integrated the concrete structure with the temples is Mr Jesdanwalla, a Muslim.

Small contributions made it Big

Today, it may be difficult for people to believe that funds could be raised through “Sangeetha Upanyasam” i.e. discourses based on Puranas and Ithihasas. In those days Thirumuruga Kripananda Variyar’s Upanyasams were a great hit. Crowds gathered to listen to his simple and easy exposition of great religious and spiritual ideas through melodious music and wit and humour. Responding to his call people filled up the hundis kept for collection. He suggested that small hundies be given to every devotee to be kept in the Pooja Room and progressively filled with small coins. His excellent suggestion was earnestly implemented. About 10,000 hundies were distributed and through them substantial collections were made. This was a great experiment in ensuring wide public participation for a noble cause.
Sri Anjam Namboodiri a great devotee of Guruvayurappan conducted “Srimad Bhagavatha Saptaham” at the Balalayam every year which was attended by a large number of devotees. Such occasions also helped to collect contributions.
Annually, music, dance and drama festivals were held in Gandhi Maidan and in Shanmukhananda Hall when leading artistes offered their services accepting small remuneration. Through ticket sales and through advertisements contributed to souvenirs brought out on such occasions substantial funds were raised. It may be of interest to know that Ms. Jayalalithaa was among the artists who helped the cause by her dance concert.
Starting with coins and small collections through hundis and then substantial donations from philanthropists and grants from Governments, the Temple Complex at a cost of 1 crore became a reality.
The Thirumalai Thirupati Devasthanam donated Rs. 5.00 Lakhs. The Govt. of Maharashtra granted extra FSI. The Central government declared the temple as an important place of Public Worship in the state of Maharashtra and sanctioned exemption of Income Tax for donors to the Temple Repairs and Renovation Fund, under the provisions of 80-G of the Income Tax Act. The Railway administration granted concessional freight for transporting 800 tons of granite from South India.
Devotees who contributed Rs 1,000/- for each step in the main staircase leading to the temple have their names inscribed in the steps, as an acknowledgement of their support, at a very crucial juncture.
A large number of individuals donated more than Rs. 10,000 each and their names have been gratefully acknowledged on a special panel board. May Lord Muruga bless all those who made the One Crore Rupees Complex a reality!!!


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