Andhra Meals in Religious Rituals

A long time back I’d compared massage parlours in Bangkok to Andhra meals, where there is a “basic menu” (the core massage itself) which everyone orders, on top of which other add-ons (such as happy endings) can get tagged on.

Today, while performing a religious ritual (it’s 10 days since my daughter was born, so there was some ceremony I’d to perform), I realised that every religious ritual, happy or sad, also follows the “Andhra meals” principle.

So the “meals” part is the stuff they teach you to do as part of your daily “sandhyavandane” ritual immediately after your thread ceremony. Starting with the aachamana (keshavaaya swaaha, narayanaaya swaaha etc), going on to reciting the Gayatri mantra, repeating the aachamana several times in the middle, and then ending by apologising and atoning for all the mistakes in the course of the ritual (achutaayanamaha, anantaayanamaha, govindayanamaha, achutanantagovindebho namaha).

This is the basic sandhyaavandane you’re supposed to perform three times every day, and the interesting thing is that most other rituals are add-ons to this. Be it a wedding ceremony, worship of a particular god on a particular festival or even a death ceremony, all these parts remain and don’t go away. What changes from ritual to ritual are the add-ons, like the meats you might order during Andhra meals.

And so in the wedding ceremony, there is the wedding itself. In a death ceremony, there’s all the part where you wear the sacred thread the wrong way round (praacheenaavEti) and build rice-til balls (piNDa – have you noticed how similar they are to sushi?). While worshipping a particular god, you perform the worship in the middle of the regular sandhyaavandane ritual. And so forth.

I must say I’m fairly impressed with our ancestors who devised this “modular form” of performing rituals. What rocks about this practice is that pretty much everyone who wants to perform these rituals will know these rituals (the “basic Andhra meals”) bit, which makes it that much easier to “consume” the “extra fittings” appropriate to the occasion.

6 thoughts on “Andhra Meals in Religious Rituals”

  1. Ha ! This is what makes it easy for us to get “specialized” purohits onboard Eventosaur by the way. Our tier 3 guys who we send for small events and as last minute vendors know only Andhra meals + a handful of extras. Experience plus specialization dictates matching and pricing.

    1. so i guess when someone says “pooje sarIg mADslilla” they’re talking about priests who don’t know the adequate extras and who try to compensate by (mis)reading from a book!

  2. Same with pooja. Aacamna, shudha (aapohista mahobuvaha…) Ganapathi pooja, Doopa, Ekarchane, Navidhya, Maha mangalarthi then as you said atoning mistakes. Any special pooja is inbetween with that Aashtothara

    1. Strongly agree. so our entire religion is modular.

      I guess that’s what you get when a religion is evolved as opposed to “received” by a single wise man

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