The ‘Athirathram’ ritual, which is considered to be the world’s oldest ritual, is underway near Bhadrachalam in Khammam district. This yagam that lasts for a couple of days was started on April 21 and will conclude on May 2. Athirathram is mainly performed for the welfare of the people in the region. The previous Athirathram ritual was held in Kerala by the Namboodiri Brahmins of Kerala who preserved this tradition. As a group of priests continue to perform rituals, the devotees who will sit and watch the holy rites will later make pradakshinas around homa kundam.
The legend has it that Athirathram was even performed by King Dasaratha, the father of epic hero Lord Rama. Scholars even said that this holy ritual was mentioned in the epic written by sage Valmiki, Ramayana.
With the information on this ritual being publicized by some channels, lakhs of people thronged the place and took part in the yagam on the first day of Athirathram. A 62-year-old pandit, Harinatha Sarma, whose son is performing athrirathram in Khammam district, has said that only a few persons could perform Athirathram.
As a part of the ritual, Sri Sitarama Kalyana (wedding ritual of Lord Rama and Sita) was performed on the eighth day of the yagam wherein a large number of people took part. Even on Saturday as heavy rain lashed Yetapaka where Athirathram is underway, a sea of devotees watched the holy rites braving the heavy downpour. (Phani)