Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Offerings to Holy Fire, together: Laaja Homam

9. Vaarana, Ayiram (thousand elephants)

Varisilai vaal mugatu enaimaartaamvandittiu
erimugampaarit(u) ennaimunnenirutti
arimuganacchutan kai melen kai vaitu
porimugamtatta kanaakanden tozhi naan

Varisilai vaal = eye brows like arched and bent like a bow,mugatu = on their faces, enaimaartaamvandittiu, my brothers with bright faces, erimugampaarit(u) = facing Agni, ennaimunnenirutti = placed me in front of the holy fire,
arimugan= Lord Ranganatha, who with majestic lion looks, acchutan= who never forsake His devotees, kai melen kai vaitu = placed my hands on top of my lord’s hands, porimugamtatta= and showered puffed rice over our clasped hands, kanaakandeennaan = so I dreamt, tozhi = o my friend.

English Poem

Bright faced brothers brought hesitant bride to Mandap

Straight to face Homaagni, Evenas Majestic Hari extended His

Lotus hands above my cupped ones filled with Laajaas to be

Offered as Haviss amidst Vedic Hymns, So I dreamt my dear

LaahaHomaVaibhavam

It is called poriyidaalvaibhavam: it is a ceremony, wherein the bride does the laajahomam (offering puffed rice) praying that her husband should live forever with sarvama’ngaLams. When the laajahomam is performed, the wife keeps her two hands together; her brothers will place the rice puffs in her hands; the husband will place ghee on the rice puffs, then reciting the laajahomamantram, offering those puffs to the holy fire, joining hands with the wife’s hands. The husband tells agni: “my wife is doing this laajahomam, praying for a long life for me.”

This happens after ammi (SanniKallu) stepping. In this homam with parched rice (laja), Vadhu (bride) cups her hands and her brother/s fill it with parched or puffed rice. The husband should add drop of ghee and recite five Veda mantras. At the end of each of the recitation, the parched rice is offered into the sacred fire as havya (offering) to Agni. At the end of the laajahomam, the husband unties the darbha belt around the waist of his wife with another mantra. The husband states through this mantra that he unites his wife and ties her now with the bonds of Varuna and invites her to be a full partner in his life to enjoy the blessings of wedded life.

Also read: Bride Stepping on Sannikallu

LaajaHomam is a ritual forming part of concluding ceremonies in marriage. It means ‘the offering of puffed rice to the sacred fire’ according to Sanskrit text on procedure of performing wedding ceremony. It is the VivaahHoma, wherein the sacred fire kundam kept burning in the Hindu marriage ceremony on the Mandap. The brother is included in the process of pouring of the rice indicating the continuation of the links between the two families. The couple then circles the fire together three times while feeding the fire with rice each round. Holy fire or Lord Agni is the witness of the new bond between the couple, and the offering of puffed rice is part of worshipping Agni along with reciting the Hymns in praise of Lord Yama, to promote the prosperity and happiness.

Also read: Seven Steps around holy fire

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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