As I have posted in many of my posts that Hinduism treats Gods as Human Beings and offer services that befit a King, Queen or a child.
Gods are treated and loved as one would love one’s own children, friend, Lady Love.
In Tamil Literature,there are Grammar Rules for composing Poems based on the Bhava or attitude to God.
It may be as a Child, a lady Love or various stages of a child growing up.
Poems were composed appropriate to these ages and offered to God.
In the Sanatana Dharma, Vedic practice, there are 16 Upachaaras or ways of offering Obeisance to the Lord.
These were originally 64 .
I will be posting on this in detail.
A special practice in Tamil Nadu of offering Obeisance to Lord Vishnu has been in practice from the 10th Century AD.
One, a male, from a designated Family, performs Dance Drama with a special dress, singing poems from the Devotional text of the Sri Vaishnavas,The Naalayira Divya Prabhandam.
Though many a Vishnu Temple in Tamil Nadu follow this, SriRanagam, Srivilliputtur and Alwar Thirunagari are the three places which are traditionally following this custom and they are famous.
The right to perform belongs one family in Srirangam, two each in Srivillipuutur and Alwarthirunagari.
The Right is Hereditary.
The Pagal Pathu(10 day time) and Ra Pathu(10 day night time) festival is celebrated in the month of Margazhi(December–January) for twenty days. The first ten days are referred as Pagal-Pathu (10 day day time festival) and the second half as Ra Pathu(10 day night-time festival). The first day of Ra pathu is Vaikunta Ekadashi. The eleventh day of each fortnight in Tamil calendar is called ekadesi and the holiest of all ekadesis as pervaishnavite tradition is the Vaikunta Ekadashi. Nammazhwar, one of the 12 azhwars.
During this period this Dance Drama is enacted.
This is called the ‘Arayar Sevai’
Arayar in Tamil means King, implying paying obeisance that befits a King.
Another meaning is’one who declares’
The Arayar, the one who performs, declares the devotion to Lord Vishnu through the Poems of the Alwars.
Other Names of the Arayars are,
Vinnappam Cheyvar – they speak directly and only to the lord and make their requests only to him.
Nampaduvan- the sing the praises of our lord Nam (Perumal)
Isai ariyum Peruman – Referring to their ability to sing the Prabandham.
Thambiranmar – Roots word are probably than-piran-mar meaning those who belong to the lord and indicative of the Arayar becoming an Azhvar himself when performing the Arayar sevai.
The Arayar is always a male and has to follow a specific dress code and perform a vow before each performance.
A)Periyaazhvar thirumozhi (473 songs)of Periyaazhvar, including Thiru Pallaand.
c) Naachiyaar Thirumozhi by Andaal (143 songs)
D) Perumaai Thirumozhi by Kulasekhara Azhvar (105 songs)
E) Thiruchanda Virutham by Tirumazhisai Azhvar (120 songs)
F) Tirumaalai by thondaarady Podiazhvar (45 songs).
G) Tiruppalli Ezhuchi by Thondarady Podiazhvar (10 songs)
H) Amalaanathi Piran by Thirupaanazhvar (10 songs)
I) Kanninun siru thaambu by Madhurakavi Azhvar (11 songs)
2. Periya Tirumozhi or greater hymns contains 1134 songs. All sung by Tirumangai Azhvar.
A) Periya Tirumozhi (1084 songs)
B) Thiru kuraan Thaandagam. (20 songs)
C) Thiru Nedun Thaandagam (30 songs)
3. Thiruvaimozhi by Nammazhwar (it contains 1102 songs)
4. Iyarpa is the last division in the Divya Prabandham
and contains the following
a. Mudal Thiruvandaadhi by Pongai Azhwar (100 songs)
b. Irandaam Thiruvandhaadhi by Bhootath Azhwar (100 songs)
c. Moondraam Thiruvandaadhi by Pey Azhwar (100 songs)
d. Naanmugan Thiruvandaadhi by Thirumazhisai Azhwar (96 songs)
e. Thiru virutham By Nammazhwar (100 songs)
f. Thiru vaasinyam by Nammazhwar (7 songs)
g. Peria Thiru Andaathi by Nammazhwar (87 songs)
i. Siriya Thirumadal by Thirumangai Azhwar (40 songs)
j. Peria Thirumadal by Thirumangai Azhwar (78 songs)
5. Ramanuja Nootranthaati ( 108 songs) of Amudhanar and it was added to the text compiled by Nathamuni neither is it his own Vishnu nor is it by an Azhwar.