Monday, April 22, 2013

Thirukadaiyur - The journey not the destination - 6

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. 

                                                 The traditional temple tower called gopuram

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...............:) 

pic courtesy:google


  1. Such a colorful gopurum and its intricate detailing is fascinating. The legends are interesting.
    Are you saying that on an average day 50 couples conduct their completion of 60th birthdays!?? It must be a sight to see so many elderly couples performing wedding rituals again in front of now grown kids! Interesting :)

  2. yes, more or less 50 couples. not just 60th even 70th and 80th birthday celebrations are conducted. It is considered a privilege to be blessed by the couples. I did click pictures of the event, i don't know where i have stored. Will look for it and ETA.

  3. Very interesting post. These temples must be visited more for their architectural beauty, they stood the ravages of time so beautifully. I is really amazing. Some of these temples in Kombakonam have such beautiful paintings too.

    1. These are built according to special architectural principles (agama shastra) and so absorb cosmic and geo-magnetic energy. The energy is dissipated to the devotees through acu-points which leaves the visitors or devotees with positive thoughts. Naturally, a positive state of mind - a reason for perfect health. You are so right about the paintings. They deserve to be showcased to the world. Thank you, Rama.

  4. One of the classic temples around Kumbakonam. As usual, you've nicely brought out the legend and the customs.

    By the way, you cannot escape by concluding the Dec travelogue without the promised post on Kumbakonam Degree Coffee ......

    1. Glad the post resonated. Definitely, KDC will be put up shortly.will come as a part of history of traditional cuisine series rather than a travelogue.