Consecration Ceremony (Kumbhabhishekam)

Preface

As you may be aware, temples play a very profound role in our religion. It is not merely a place of worship and its role in the development of society as a whole is significant. If the deity inside the temple is the soul, the temple structure itself is like the body encasing it. Kumbabhishekam is a ritual that helps in rejuvenation of the ‘body’ and helps in re-energizing it.

What is Kumbabhishekam?

Kumbabhishekam (or Samprokshanam) is a ritual performed to refresh, energize and kindle the inner powers of the deity. It is performed to consecrate newly built temples or re-consecrate existing ones around every twelve years. The highlight of the ceremony is the pouring of the sanctified water from the pots (kumbams) by the priests over the top of the gopurams (Prokshanam is spraying of water in Sanskrit, thus giving the name ‘Samprokshanam’ to the event). During Kumbabhishekam, rituals are conducted by knowledgeable priests following Vedic methods and Aagama Shastras. Aagamas are rules established several centuries ago in line with Vedic tradition providing details on building/ maintenance of temples.

Kumbabhishekam – Bruhan Madhava Temple, Kodaganallur

Why is it performed?

Kumbabhishekam is required for the following reasons:

  • Inherent faults: Due to unintended errors (apachaaraas) while conducting rituals, such as mispronounced mantras or deficiency in cleanliness or qualifications or a host of related reasons, the deity’s power (saannidhyam) gets reduced over time.
  • Physical faults: As abhishekams (showering) are done repeatedly with various substances, the idol accumulates impurities over time and can also get corroded due to rust . The entire temple including the walls, the towers etc which are not cleanable on a daily basis become unclean and might be in need of repairs as years go by.

So it is important that Kumbabhishekam is done on time in order to fully restore the the powers of the deity and also to cleanse the temple of all impurities. This will make it withstand another 12 years without leading to any material damage.

How is it done? Ashtabandhanam

Before Kumbabhishekam, the power in the main idol (moolavar) is transferred by mantras to a metal idol and kept immersed in holy water till repairs are done. On the day of the Kumbabhishekam the power will be transferred back to the main idol and abhisheka and other rituals will be performed to restore the power. While affixing the idol to the base (peetam), a process called Ashtabandhanam is performed. Ashta means 8 in Sanskrit and Bandhanam means tying or fixing. Due to repeated abhishekhams, the original paste loses its adhesiveness and becomes rigid. To replace this paste, a new one is prepared from 8 specific herbs mixed with wood lac, limestone powder, resin, red ochre, beeswax and butter. The paste is applied directly around the base of the icon, so that the joints become watertight. This process is believed to keep the icon rejuvenated for a period of 12 years. Contributing to making this paste is considered a great service (kainkaryam). 

Preparation of ‘Ashtabandhanam’ paste at Koduvayur Vishawanathaswamy temple

How is it done? Other repairs and procedure

Other repairs could also include fixing of damaged statues, walls, ceilings, paintings, as well as cleaning of temple tank and the temple premises. Sometimes, addition of new mandapas or deities is also done as part of this event. Also, there are grains placed in metal containers (‘kalasams’) at the top of the towers and these are replaced as well. These kalasams act as an emergency seed vault in case the place is flooded or damaged otherwise. The grains are changed during Kumbabhishekam as they lose their efficacy to germinate after 12 years.

On the appointed day, the Kalasa is sprayed with sanctified holy waters from the sacrificial pot. It is believed that this energy trickles down and enters the deity installed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple. The deity is now transformed into a vibrant representation of the Lord conferring divine blessings on all devotees. Thereafter, the priests offer the necessary oblations to the main deity and also to the other deities present inside the temple.

Conclusion

Kumbabhishekam is a spiritual and social ritual that brings joy and prosperity to the entire society. It is to be celebrated similar to that of a family function. It is an occasion for long lost neighbours and friends who went their ways in search of worldly treasures to come back together and celebrate their temple’s great occasion. Participating in this event will result in eradicating illnesses, granting healthy progeny, long life and prosperity to all. Temple rituals invariably end with the prayer ‘sarve janaa: sukhino bhavanthu’ ¬†meaning ‘may all people live happily’.

This is the very essence of Sanathana Dharma.

Author Details

Rangarajan has been blogging for over 12 years now on various topics. With Thedal, he becomes one with the universe and he is hoping that his search will help him discover the eternal truth.  Please join him as he traverses through the universe across temples, philosophies and science!

8 thoughts on “Consecration Ceremony (Kumbhabhishekam)”

  1. Great learning about Sanathana Dharmas. Your posts are energizing and influencing . They are making me attracted to learn more about our rich traditions and old Vedic living. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Geetha. We are very glad to know that you are able to learn a lot on our traditions and practices through our posts. It drives us to contribute more on this. Appreciate the candid feedback.

  2. Our Kumbabhishekam is fixed on 13th June 2021.Due to pandemic we may have to postpone it.Can it be conducted in September.Is there any time zone for conducting it.This is a special case due to pandemic.Yoyr suggestion / guidance please.
    Regards
    Murali
    Secretary ASSVTC

    1. Dear Sir, thanks for your question. We are not qualified to answer your query. May I suggest that you check with the elders and Gurus who are associated with the temple? They should be able to help you with this query. Thanks.

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