|Srirangam. Sri Padham ThangigalThe Hindu|
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Carrying the perumal on the shoulder is believed to be a great Kainkaryam (devotional task) and no less people than Uthama Nambi, Parasara/Veda Vyasa Bhattar, Annangar Swamy and Rangachar in the 19th century engaged themselves in this devotional duty. The carriers followed an order while carrying the deities. The presiding deity Sri Ranganathar is quite well-known for his impressive gait and the tradition has it the Sri Patham Thangis of Srirangam must maintain the gait and bring out the grandeur and majesty of Lord's walk. There are different walks of the lord called Voyyali, Simha Gathi and Sarpa Gathi. In the past Sri Patham Thangis had to practise these walks barefoot for long hours in the hot sun on the Manal Veli - sandy ground in the eastern side of the temple. It is to be noted, you need good physical as well as mental endurance to get involved in this traditional devotional ritual. This kind of rigorous training is a must for the chosen men to perform the divine task with dedication. A prospective aspirant can not join the Srirangam temple group. The aspirant has to prove his capability and worth first at the Kamalavalli Nachiyar temple in Woraiyur, Tiruchy. If done well, he can join the group of Sri Padham Thangi of Srirangam temple.
With the temple having come under the management of the HR & CE, an arm of the Tamil Nadu government, in the last several decades, the appointment of Sri Padham Thangi is vested with the officials, a fact that countless devotees deplore. Many men have been Sri Padham Thangi for a few decades and their family members take pride in the devotional task done by them during the festival time. Among the festivities, Poochatru Utsavam is one of the toughest for the Sri Patham Thangis. The duty involves standing on the the Manal Veli Mandapam and carrying the ‘heavy’ Lord on their shoulders. Without losing either their composure or showing any signs of fatigue, they stand on their feet, carrying Namperumal on their shoulders. The 10-day Utsavam for Perumal is followed by a week-long Utsavam for Thayar (Goddess), at the end of which, all most all of them may carry a bruise on their shoulder.
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