Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thaayumanava swamy temple

This temple was built by the chola kings. This is a famous siva temple and the lord has been praised by Appar, Sundarar, Manickavasagar and Thirugnanasambandar in their poem collections - Devaram, Thiruvachagam. Lord shiva is known by the name - Thaayumaanava swamy or Maathrubhootheswarar (in sanskrit). His consort, Parvati devi is known by the name Mattuvaar kuzhalammai or Suganthi kondalambal (in sanskrit). Devi got this name as her hair will be having a pleasant smell.

Initially, the lord was facing East, the direction where Woraiyur (the then capital of cholas). Once a chola king, punished a shiva devotee in his reign though the devotee was innocent, because of wrong investigation. Shiva became angry and he turned his face to the opposite direction, west. As a result of this, Vekkaliamman, the protecting deity of Woraiyur who was staying patient till then, despite of the wrong doings committed by the king, as shiva was looking woraiyur, now lost her temper and destroyed woraiyur by pouring sands over that place. It was after this incident, the chola capital was shifted to Pazhayaarai and then to Tanjore.

Why the lord was called "Thaayumaanava swamy"?

Thaayumaanavar - Like a mother.

There was a family living by the side of the temple. Every member of that family was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Once every one, except for the two, left for a distant place. The two members were a grand mother and her grandson's wife, Rathnaavathi. Since the latter was pregnant and is expecting a child soon, she didnt go and to look after her, the grand mother also stayed back.

It was raining heavily outside. River Kaveri was about to overflow. The grandma went outside to get some medicines for Rathnaavathi. Rathnaavathi was alone in the house. No sooner did the grandma went outside, than it rained more. The grandma was compelled to stay at the medicine shop itself as there was huge amount of water on the streets.

Rathnavathi was suffering from labour pain and it kept on increasing. She didnt know what to do, than to pray Lord shiva at Rockfort, her favourite deity. Then came Lord shiva, disguised as the grandma and helped Rathnaavathi to deliver a boy child. The rain stopped and grandma suddenly disappeared.

The original grandma, came hurried from the medicine shop and was surprised to see Rathnavathi who had given birth to a boy child. Rathnavathi thanked grandma for helping her. Grandma was confused and said to Rathnaavathi, "How can I help you by being here when I was there at the shop?". This surprised Rathnaavathi and even the grandma. Their surprises and questions were answered by the "Rishabaarooda darshan" (Shiva, seated on the bull (rishabam) along with Parvati). After this incident, shiva at the rockfort temple was known by the name "Thaayumaanava swamy".

To mark this incident, every year during the month of April or May, a function called "Chettippen maruthuvam" - Medical attention paid to a girl of chettiyar class is conducted. This function is organised before the thiru kalyana utsavam (Sacred marriage ceremony between shiva and parvati) during the chithirai festival. Chithirai festival concludes with the car festival.

Every year, float festival (theppotsavam) use to happen during the month of March [Panguni uthira vizha]. Other festivals include the car festival during April or May (chithirai thiruvizha), vaikasi visakham, thiruvadhirai during december (maargazhi), thai poosam etc.

Since the lord eased the girl's delivery strain, it is belived that if we perform pooja to the Lord Mathrubhootheswarar and distribute bananas to the devotees who are coming to the temple, complications that may arise during delivery will be annulled.

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