Devotional, Karimnagar, National, Telangana, Temples

Where devotees ‘marry’ Lord Shiva on Sri Rama Navami celebrations at Vemulawada

RAJANNA-SIRCILLA, APRIL 17, 2024: Devotees – men, women and transgenders – marry Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy devasthanam, a unique practice at the historic Vemulawada temple shrine on the occasion of celestial wedding of Lord Rama with his consort Sita to mark the Sri Rama Navami celebrations on Wednesday.

Even as the celestial wedding of Lord Rama with his consort Goddess Seetha, was performed in a grand manner in the presence of huge congregation of devotees at the temple shrine, several thousands of devotees decorated as ‘Brides of Lord Shiva’ witnessed the marriage rituals.

As part of the marriage ritual, the devotees take a holy dip in ‘dharmagundam’ (holy tank), wear new clothes and apply turmeric and vermilion on their body and decorate themselves as brides of Lord Shiva by carrying His trident (trishul), which is also decorated with bright flowers and a bell.

They carry jaggery and jeera paste on their head as brides and wear a yellow thread with lingam or rudraksha around their neck denoting their marriage to Lord Shiva. They also carry a ‘jhola’ (sling bag) containing rice mixed with turmeric (thalambralu). Later, the devotees watch the celestial wedding of Rama and Sita and ring the bell of their tridents after reciting slokas after the priests. After the celestial wedding, they sprinkle thalambralu and declare the marriage ritual with Lord Shiva completed and apply kumkum on other devotees.

The marriage of devotees to Lord Shiva is an age-old practice followed only at Vemulawada temple. “We do not perform any marriage ritual, but only rudraksha or lingam dharana (thread) around the neck of the devotees by reciting some vedic hymns. It is only the devotees who declare themselves as married to God,” said the Jangama priests. After the ritual in fulfilment of their vow the devotees return home to their families.

Devotees including transgenders, who donned as brides of Lord Shiva, declared themselves as married to Lord Shiva after sprinkling “thalambralu” on the idols of Lord Rama and Seetha during the celestial wedding. The transgenders were seen pouring thalambralu on each other as part of the marriage ritual. The temple authorities made elaborate arrangements and served lunch to the devotees. Collector Anuraag Jayanti also participated in the celebrations.


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