Updated: Aug 1, 2020
Legend has it that Periyazhwar discovered a beautiful infant girl in a lush grove in the vicinity of the Sri Villiputtur temple, in the 9th century CE, in the Tamil month of Aadi, in the Pooram star. A delighted Periyazhwar, brought up this infant, considered to be an incarnation of Bhooma Devi (in a manner similar to Sita's birth, in the Ramayana), as his own daughter, naming her Kodhai. A devout poet himself, Periyazhwar, brought up Kodhai in his own footsteps.
The young Kodhai, spent her time assisting her father in serving the Sri Villiputtur temple, and in meditating upon Sriman Narayana, with the desire of being his bride. Assigned the task of making garlands for the presiding deity at Sri Villiputtur, with flowers picked from the grove in which she was discovered, Kodhai would try out the garland on herself, without the knowledge of her foster father, and only then have it sent to the temple. Upon discovering a strand of hair on a garland meant for the presiding deity, a distraught Periyazhwar suspended the offering of the garland to the temple. It is said that the presiding deity of Sri Villiputtur appeared in the saint poet's dream, and revealed to him that he actually preferred garlands that had been pre-worn by Kodhai.
Realizing that Kodhai's purpose in life was a special one, Periyazhwar named her 'AandAL' or Soodikkodutta Naachiyaar, and looked upon her as an incarnation of Divinity. AandAL is also known by the phrase Soodikkodutta Sudarkkodiyaal - the lady who offered garlands to Sriman Narayana, after trying them out herself.
Vaarnam Aayiram is a set of 10 paasurams from Nacchiyaar Thirumozhi, sung by AndAL who is considered to be an incarnation of Bhoomadevi, Mother Earth. Born as Kodhai, AndAL was the only female Azhwar among the 12 Azhwars of Sri Vaishnavam Philosophy.
It is one of the most popular segment of Nacchiyaar Thirumozhi, a set of Tamizh poetic compositions in which AndAL describes to her friends her beautiful dream of an elaborate wedding with Sriman NaaraayaNa himself.
The outline of "Vaaranam Aayiram" is that our Andal has sung about her dream in which she sees Sriman Narayana marrying her as per vaidika tradition. Even today, Vaaranamaayiram is being sung in all the Vedic weddings during the time called “paccai pUSuthal”. Traditional belief is that when this ritual is performed, the newly wedded couple's lives will forever remain sweet. Kodhai herself has declared that those who chant this Tirumozhi will beget children with brahma jnAnam and sattva guNam. It is said that unmarried girls of marriageable age would be granted a swift marriage if they recited these verses with devotion. Brides from Iyengar community are dressed up as Andal on the day of their marriage. The steps and sequences involved in the Vedic marriage of today are very similar to the marriage ceremony that Andal describes in Vaaranam Ayiram.
>> Arrival of the bridegroom for niscitArttam (Engagement)
>> mAppiLLai azhaippu - Inviting the groom
>> the actual function of niscitArttam
>> bridegroom’s sister draping the kURaip puDavai on the bride
>> rakshA bandhanam
>> chanting of veda mantrams
>> mattaLam playing
>> women welcoming the bridegroom
>> ammi midittal, saptapati, lAja homam or pori iDal are all wedding rites that have been followed from vedic times onwards till today.
As a part of our Kodhaiyum Kannanum celebrations, Smt. Aishwarya Sharan recites and shares simple explanation for children to understand and learn the pasurams of Vaaranamaayiram.
The Youtube link to the pasurams can be found below and also under our KATHAANGAN tab under audio stories.