The word aagama generally refers to Vedas. However, the descriptive literature under the heading „Aagama‟ is a discipline describing various forms of worship, esoteric rituals for installation of the deity, rules of building temples, role of priests etc. Aagama is called so because it has come from the five faced Lord Shiva, understood by Goddess Parvathi and acceptable to Lord Vishnu. “ Aagatam Panchavakrathu gatancha Girijaanana Matancha Vaasudevasya tasmaad-Aagama-muchyathe”
agamas are divided into three categories- Saiva, Vaishnava and Sakta. Saiva temples(Siva worshippers) use the Saiva aagamaas to perform this consecration and Vaishnava temples (Vishnu worshippers) use the Vaishnava aagamaas. Devi (Goddess) worshippers use the Sakta aagamas in Devi temples to invoke the image or symbol in the female form.
The „Pratishta‟ ritual begins with “Karshana”, ploughing done when the temple site is selected, followed by „Vaastupooja‟* and finally Kumbhabhishekam. After the consecration, the image in the sanctum is no more looked upon as a stone image. Now it is the Lord Himself worshipped in all „His‟ powers and „Glory‟. The Aagama shastras, ordain performance of a “punar-uddhaarana kumbhabhishekam” of every temple once in twelve years.
Sometimes, major repair works have to be carried out to the temple at this time, then it is called “Jeernod-dhaarana Kumbhabhishekam”. This ritual is required to be performed to all the deities, in the garbhagrahas of all temples in a temple complex. Through the medium of an elaborate chain of Yaagas and Yagnas (fire sacrifices) the full potencey of infused powers (Sannidhyam) is restored to the idols at the appropriate muhurtam (time) on an auspicious day. Through the redress of genuine difficulties and grievances of the discerning and deserving devotees, the inherent and infused spiritual powers of the installed idols are diminished over a period of time. It is also possible that through unintended deficiencies (apacharaas) while conducting of poojas, prayers, aaraadhanaas etc., to the installed deities in the sanctum sanctorum, by either, in the absolute merits and physical purity of the performing priests or in the improper pronunciation and recital of the prescribed number of mantras or a host of other related factors, the installed idol‟s omnipotence (sannidhya) gets progressively diminished and demand rejuvenation or restoration. This is the purpose with which Kumbhabhishekam is done periodically.
The Kumbhabhishekam ceremony consists of the erection of Balaalayam, japas, chants of Vedas, sanctifying Kalasaas (pots of water), Homas and Yagnas. The finale is the pouring of the sanctified water from the kalasas over the stupis (steeple) on the top of the central Vimaana or the sanctum sanctorum, the gopurams and the main and other deities, by the priests.