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Thuvayal Thavasu, literally washing penance, was a significant religious event that took place in the 19th century. It was also called as thuvayal panthi. (panthi means an arrangement of people in a row for meals during feasts). By the late thirties of the nineteenth century, when the Hindu religion Ayyavazhi had come to exist with certain excitement and euphoria, a group of people, of different age groups and genders, undertook to perform this unique exercise as directed by Lord Vaikundar.
Participants of this exercise seem to have sold out their properties in a manner of renunciation, at half of their value. And, with a bare minimum of means of livelihood, they had gone to a place near the eastern seashore, know presently as Vakaippathi, situated at about four kilometers to the north of Cape Comorin. They camped there together and performed the following actions in a manner of a ritual: They took a bath and washed their clothes in the seawater thrice everyday and cooked vegetarian meal with raw rice and green-grams, and ate it only once a day. The manner of eating was that they took it directly with their mouth from the sandy ground where the food had been laid. They drank only the salty water and abstained from fish. Apart from washing, cooking and eating, the remaining hours were spent on spiritual exercises. They recited certain incantations taught by persons among them who had the gift of oracles. These persons instructed the group whatever they had to do. It was one of these persons that taught the group the popular incantation called Ukappatippu literally meaning ‘song of the aeon’, the recital of which, often an abridged version of it, forms part of the daily rituals of Ayyavazhi to this day.
There seems to have been some opposition to the practice of this exercise of thuvayal thavasu. There is a verse in Akilathirattu that says, the wicked violently dispersed those that participated in this thuvayal thavasu. The high caste people caused trouble and tried to disperse the participants. But the participants seem to have withstood and continued the exercise.
As per the account of Akilathirattu, the people performed this exercise for about six months. As the days passed, stinkbugs, ticks, swarming flies and other pests caused skin diseases and serious disturbances of them. People took them as test caused by Ayya Vaikundar of their faith, courage and fortitude, and withstood all the tribulations. Finally, being instructed through a persons dream, they ended the thavasu at Vakaippathi, and, went over to a place now known as Muttappathi, situated at a distance of three kilometers to the south of Vakaippathi. At Muttappathi, they spent a month in similar exercises, and stopped it only when struck by severe diseases that killed a few of them, which they read as definite sign to end the thavasu.
After ending the thavasu, the participants returned to their native places. They were received with respect and reverence, and, addressed honourably as Thuvayal pantarams They went to different places, and spread whatever they had learned from the thavasu. They were received cordially by the followers of Ayyavazhi who considered it a religious virtue to be hospitable to them. The now prevalent practice of offering food (called as thavanakanci) in Nizhal Thangals seems to have originated from this act of charity. The participants external appearance seems to have undergone a change after this exercise. Akilathirattu says that the surrounding people who witnessed them exclaimed as follows: "The dress of the Namputiri and other Brahmins have lost their shine, whereas that of the Chanar shine like the sun... See what a change has come about for Chanars. The people who awaited avidly the arrival of fish and ate it even half cooked in a greedy manner, and chewed tobacco incessantly, have transformed themselves so much!"
The LMS Report for the year 1892 puts it as: "It is true that their [the devoteed of Vikunda Swamy] bodies and their houses are more cleanly [sic] than those of the rest."
Ayya Vaikundar also known as Vaikunda Swami is the first and the foremost Purna avatar of Eka-Paran born to Narayana and his consort Lekhsmi at the Sea of Tiruchendur on the 20th of Masi, 1008 K.E. Embodied with the triune God-heads along with all lesser devas, Narayana assumes his ninth incarnation at the sea-shore of Tiruchendur just before the birth of Vaikundar. It was this Avatar of Narayana whom give birth to Vaikundar later, and all these events are part of his grand and systematic framework for the destruction of Kaliyan. Earlier, as the time for the destruction of Kali approaches, Lekhsmi, who includes all Devis of the divine cosmos into herself, was sent to Sea of Tiruchendur to grow as a giant golden fish called Makara. It was from her womb the Infant Vaikundar was born to Narayana and the Vinchai was granded to him immediately after his birth.
Ayyavazhi is a henotheistic belief that originated in South India. It is cited as an independent monistic religion by several newspapers, government reports, and academic researchers.
Akilathirattu Ammanai, also called Thiru Edu, is the main religious text of the Tamil belief system Ayyavazhi. The title is often abbreviated to Akilam or Akilathirattu.
Mutta Pathi, is one of the Pancha pathi, which are the primary centers for worship of the Ayyavazhi. This is the third important pilgrim center of Ayyavazhi. This place earn the religious importance in Akilam from the event that, Ayya Vaikundar is given two Vinchais here by Narayana under the Sea; One just before the arrest of Vaikundar by Swathi Thirunal and the second after the completion of Thuvayal Thavasu.
Ayyavazhi mythology is the mythology of the South Indian Hindu denomination religious faith known as Ayyavazhi, which is officially considered a Hindu sect. The main source of Ayyavazhi mythology is the Ayyavazhi scripture, Akilathirattu Ammanai, and its supplement, Arul Nool. The Akilathirattu Ammanai is a recitation by Mayon to his consort Lakshmi. It is divided into three sections: Early Avatars, incarnational events and post-incarnational events.
Dharma Yukam is the state of absolute bliss as per Ayyavazhi mythology. Dharma Yukam is described in the Akilam seventeen in Akilathirattu Ammanai. It is related to Dharmic moksha and to Abrahamic heaven.
Pancha pathi are the five important pilgrim centers of Ayyavazhi. These are also considered as the primary Pathis and as worship centers of Ayyavazhi with primary status. The first pathi is Swamithope pathi itself and is the headquarters of Ayyavazhi. The other Pathis are Muttappathi, Thamaraikulam Pathi, Ambalappathi and Pooppathi.
Katuvai Sothanai, in Tamil means, Trial with Tiger. This is an important event in Ayyavazhi mythology tells us about the happenings that took place when Lord Vaikundar was thrown before a three-days-starving tiger.
The Santror are the seven boys who were brought to life by using the seven seeds from seven upper worlds, by Thirumal, to the Seven Virgins through their instrumentality, according to Ayyavazhi mythology. It also represents their descendants. According to Akilathirattu Ammanai, it additionally represents one who lives with Dignity.
The following outline is provided as an overview and topic guide to Ayyavazhi:
Ayyavazhi rituals are the religious practices prevalent among the followers of Ayyavazhi. Most of them are connected with Akilam and Arul Nool and a few, though not associated with the holy books, are practiced for over a century right from the beginning of Ayyavazhi. Some practices are unique for Pathis and some others are common for all worship centres.
Ayyavazhi, a belief system originating from South India, is mentioned in a number of reports by Christian missionaries in the 19th century. In some of these reports, it is claimed that Ayyavazhi is an anti-Christian religious phenomenon. The rapid growth of the London Missionary Society is heavily challenged by Ayyavazhi in Thiruvithancore, which is the most succeeded venue of LMS in India and revealed in certain reports.
Lord Vaikundar was the incarnation of Ekam according to Akilathirattu Ammanai, the religious text of Ayyavazhi and the source of Ayyavazhi mythology. As the Ekam is the supreme power in Ayyavazhi, Vaikundar was the supreme power incarnate.
The Ayyavazhi symbolism deals with the symbols which are used in or used to represent Ayyavazhi. Though Akilam the scripture of Ayyavazhi does not point out any symbol directly, there are a few symbols which are used for representing Ayyavazhi which came into practice gradually.
The purpose of this chronology is to give a detailed account of Ayyavazhi from the beginning of the incarnational events of Vaikundar to the present time. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates. A star (*) indicates the mentioning of that particular date in Akilam or Arul Nool. All dates but a few are found in the Tamil calendar and so doesn't coincide exactly with the months of the Gregorian calendar. The dates may span over any halves of the two consecutive months (Gregorian).
The Akilathirattu Ammanai the scripture of Ayyavazhi teaches Dharma on two different perspective. One in sociology as charity and truth and another under spirituality to attain the stage of Oneness, unified into Lord Vaikundar. This state of ultimate oneness is called as Dharma Yukam or Dharma Pathi. Akilam also says that, Dharma is the only living wheel. The sociological way is asked to be followed by every one to attain the spiritual state of Dharma.
The ethics of Ayyavazhi are found scattered throughout the primary scripture, Akilathirattu Ammanai. They are also integrated with the meta-narrative mythography. However, regarding ethics, Arul Nool is considered as an accumulation and prophecy of the core concepts found in Akilathirattu. In Akilathirattu, the ethical abstracts are pointed out as "told by God" at several places at different situations to lesser god-heads, devas, saints etc. when asked by them.
Ayyavazhi phenomenology is the phenomenological variations found in Ayyavazhi society, worship centers etc. from their holy text Akilattirattu Ammanai.
This etymological topic deals with the origin, regeneration and evolution of various names by which Ayyavazhi is referred or identified throughout the period of Ayyavazhi history. Though the name 'Ayyavazhi' is commonly used and the most accepted term to represent Ayyavazhi there are other terms too which are used to refer it.
Swamithoppe Pathi is the primary pathi of the Ayyavazhi, and the sacred venue of the Tavam. Religiously Swamithope is considered primary among the Pancha pathi and the primary centre of the incarnational activities of Vaikundar.