SuraSamharam aka SooraSamharam – Famous Festival of Lord Murugan
Soorasamharam is a ritual practice followed in Thiruchendur which interprets the killing of Asuras by Lord Murugan. ‘Sooran’ is the name of the demon and ‘Samharam’ refers to the act of killing. Generally, this practice is performed in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and in some Murugan temples of Kerala. According to the history, this festival has been grandly celebrated in Thiruvannur Subramanya Swami temple in Kozhikode, Kerala for more than a century. Sooranpada is the name by which they call Soorasamharam in Kerala.
History of Soorasamhaaram (Sura Samharam Story)
Soorasamharam was celebrated according to Tamil Calendar and this year it falls on November 5. This divine act known as Soorasamharam is conducted on the account of Lord Muruga beheading Soorapadman with his ‘Vel’. On the day, devotees enjoy the victory of good over evil. The very next day, Thirukalyanam will be performed which portrays the divine marriage of Lord Muruga and Devasena. These are the acts which are taken from the Kandhapuranam.
According to Skanda Purana, the Surapadma has a battle of demons under his control. Two of the demons namely Simhamukha and Tarakasura were sued by the Devas. They continued harassing the human and committed Adharma everywhere. Lord Brahma, the demigods, and humans prayed to Lord Shiva to come forward and put a full stop to the demons. At that time, Lord Muruga was born to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Murugan was very powerful and was a great commander for all the Devas. He was so brave and destroys people who do adharma.
In the same way, Lord Muruga came to battle with the demons. The fight took place continuously for six days. It is not that Lord Muruga was not powerful to kill him at that instant. Everything happens only at the assigned time. Likewise, it happened and Lord Muruga killed all the demons and assistants of Padmasura. On the last day, serious and a long fight took place between Muruga and Soorapadman. Ultimately, Lord Murugan pierced Surapadman’s body with his weapon (Vel). Then also, he didn’t die completely.
Surapadma transformed himself into a big mango tree. He thought himself to be too brilliant. But, of course, what happened was not a surprise. Lord Muruga broke the trees into two pieces with his powerful weapon. The two pieces then changed into a peacock and cock. Lord Muruga sat back on the peacock ( his vahana or vehicle ) and he gave a place for the cock on his banner. This event is popularly known as Soorasamharam.
Celebration of Soorasamharam ( Kandha Sasti Kavasam )
In Tamil Nadu, Soorasamhaaram is a festival celebrated every year by a large number of devotees. The state government and Indian Railways ply special buses and trains to facilitate people in traveling to the temple. The Sooranporu was based on the story of Murugan as given in Kandhapuranam. A few days before commencing Soorasamharam, the skandhapuranam is narrated in the temple.
Soorasamhaaram is preceded by several procedures before the ending of Kanda Sashti festival. Specific Poojas will be conducted and Lord Murugan is ritually anointed (abhishekam). The devotees seek the deity’s Darshan. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, women do fasting for six days and they break at the end of the Soorasamhaaram. In Palani, Lord Murugan is taken down for a procession from the hill temple to the main road before the festival. Kanda Shasti is the sixth day from new moon day. These are the Poojas which will be conducted on the account of Kanda Sasti festival.
Thiruchendur Yaga Salai Pooja
During this season devotees get crowded in almost all the Lord Murugan’s temples and especially high number at the seashore temple in Thiruchendur. The function will begin with yaga salai puja and to initiate the function, a sacred flag will be hoisted in many places. The following event will be kappu kattuthal or sacred thread tying practice. Generally, the Priests will be doing the tying activity to all the devotees after having done with the pooja. Devotees with kappu in hand need to stay in the temple until the end of the festival.
Kandha Sasti Fasting
A lot of devotees especially women will observe fasts during the six days. You can take fruits alone, or some milk and liquid foods, and even some take one meal per day. It all depends on a devotee’s choice. There are possibilities that some devotees will fast only for the single day that too on the sixth day.
Many spiritual lectures will be taking place for day and night in temples. Reading of Kanda Puranam, chanting the hymns of Murugan will happen. Mainly Kanda Sasti Kavacham will be chanted on all six days. Special Poojas along with abhishekam, archanai, and deeparadhanai will be done on a daily basis. In some temples, Laksarchanai will also be conducted to Muruga.
Skandha Puranam and Soorasamharam
Skandha Puranam will be chanted by the devotees during the Poojas. The festival clearly gives a picture of killing the four Asuras Anamughan, Panumughan, Simhamughan, and Soorapadman. The last one to be killed is the Soorapadman or Padmasura. The Asuras are decapitated by Lord Murugan using his Vel (Weapon) which looks like a kind of spear or javelin.Before starting all this, the vel is consecrated and the ceremony takes place like Lord Murugan placing vel on Padmasura’s head and thereby it falls off on the ground. Soorasamhaaram is performed at the last week of Kanda Sashti festival.
Significance of Soorasamharam – Victory of Good over Evil
Soorasamharam own a peculiar religious significance, especially for Tamilians. The awesomeness of this day is cleared mentioned in Hindu scripture of ‘Skanda Puranam’. It is essential for every Hindu-Tamilian to visit the temple and get the Lord’s blessings. Every participant in the festival will find the enjoyment in the celebration. That, in turn, will automatically make you attend the function every year. It will be a real treat and pleasure for people to see all this. The only thing is the crowd which can cause some inconvenience. But, keeping Lord Muruga in mind, all the pains will disappear. Do visit this wonderful place of Thiruchendur Murugan temple which is one of the six abodes of Murugan.