We had planned to visit Karaikal from Tranquebar, but it was already past 6 p.m. We would not be left with day time to explore and see Karaikal. Moreover, With the high beam lights of heavy vehicles flashing, it would be difficult and take more time to return home. we had to travel back 100kms to reach home on kutccha village roads. So, we skipped Karaikal but on our return route we decided to step into a renowned temple famous for celebrating birthdays - Thirukadaiyur. ( non tamils read it as Thiru-kadai-oor)
Like I said in my Kumbakonam post. There are lots of huge ancient temples around this area which has historical, religious and spiritual significance. And Thirukadiyur is one such. Though we have visited this temple some 7 years back, we decided to step in to absorb the vibes again.
This temple is famous for the celebration of birthdays( according to hindu star calendar) ritualistically to vedic rites and havans.
Generally it is a tradition in a few south Indian communities to celebrate the completion of 60 years, 80 years etc . This is especially with married couple who take marital vows again on the man turning 60, 70 or 80. This is called Sashtiapthapoorthi.(Completion of 60) .
The couple offer prayers for the longevity of their healthy life by conducting havans like ‘Mrityunjay homam( to conquer death) and be healthy. Lots of herbs with medicinal properties are put into the havan . The air released from the havan is said to relieve a person from health ailments and rejuvenates the body, mind and soul. Some even conduct their children’s birthdays called ‘Ayush homam.’
Lord Shiva punishing The god of death while Saint markendaya hugs the Shivling.
There is a legend behind the reason why it is performed here. Lord Shiva is said to have kicked The god of death (yama ) here with his left leg as a mark of punishment, while he was trying to take the life of Saint Markendaya. Due to this Yama was inactive for a period during which there were no deaths on the Earth. Death was conquered here at Thirukadaiyur. Hence the faith of the devotees in this place. This is the main legend, though there are numerous legends and significance associated with this small temple town.
All these are depicted in various colorful paintings all around the praharams(corridors) of the temple.Another legend associated is that during ‘Sagar Manthan'. Lord Ganesha was angry with the devas and asuras that they did not pray to him before the churning. Lord Ganesha is said to have been angry and so took away the Amrith kalash (pot of nectar) and hid it here. Which later turned into Lord Shiva and hence the name of the lord here is called AmrithaGhateswarar.(Amrit + Ghatam meaning pot of nectar)
After the darshan, we entered the corridors of the temple which looked surreal and sublime with the beautiful lit diyas and the divine settings. we saw nearly 50 arrangements set for the havans. Various herbs were placed in small bowls made of leaves in front of the havan kund. The stage was set to conduct the completion of the couples birthday. The ritual involves renewing the marriage vows and tying the mangalsutra again. Generally, on an average 50 couples conduct their completion of 60th birthdays here. All these arrangements are done by the couples grown up children who get blessed and have a chance to witness their parents tying the mangalsutra. For more on this temple read here.
The temple has facilitated online arrangements to enable devotees to book their function dates before hand. The temple road is flanked by many comfortable accommodations and hotel around completing the infrastructure for the visitng couples and their relatives.
The hotels around have unique names and serve time honored homely traditional vegetarian cuisine which you find is very rare in city hotels and even in small towns where chinese food like manchurian, noodles, fried rice have invaded.
It was here at the Hotel Krishna Bhavan, i found why 'Kumbakonam Degree Coffee' is called as degree coffee by one of the employees. I had already heard about this from my MIL, only she was not aware of the branding of this coffee.
With this post, i complete my bucketlist travelogue of my Dec'12 travel. But my journey will continue...............:)