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Home Eminent Columnists Sarvamangala

Sarvamangala

SarvamangalaKnowAP.com takes you through a magical journey across the weaving and craft centres of India. The writer of this column, Sarvamangala, has been associated with handlooms and handicrafts for 14 years. She has started and run, very successfully, a retail store in Secunderabad dealing with ethnic handlooms and ecofriendly craft/toys. She has her own outlet now....Anagha, in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad..

The business woman turned writer was earlier an airhostess with Indian Airlines. "I got into business and into handlooms by default", she says. I have an Air Force background and had no clue of how to run a business.But having got into it. she gave it her all.

She has travelled to the major weaving centres of Andhra Pradesh and other States of India and interacted with master weavers understanding the method of weaving from them and giving them colour and design inputs in return. Handlooms soon became a passion with her. "I realised the variety and scope of Indian handlooms after I got into it. The designs and combinations that can be made are endless and mind boggling...leaving one spellbound", she says. For instance, who could have thought that Kalamkari paintings could be appliqued on to sarees? or the traditional Lucknowi chikankari work done on Maheshwari sarees? or block prints on Kanjeevaram silks? or Jute infused into Tussar Silk sarees?

Read about all these and more in the forthcoming months in "Weaves and Crafts of India".

Trip to Tiruvotriyur Temple

This month our sojourn of temples down South will take us to the land of Tamil Nadu. There are numerous temples in Tamil Nadu and all of them are easily accessible and well connected. 

TIRUVOTRIYUR TEMPLE
The main shrine is known as Adipureeswarar and is dedicated to Lord Shiva; it is a lingam made of earth and covered with a kavacham. This kavacham is opened only on the day of Karthikai or full moon. This ancient temple, which is in northern Chennai, was built during the Chola period and was a Vedic centre during that time. The Chola kings who were reining the Thondainadu (old name of this place) patronized the worship of Shiva. King Rajendra Chola rebuilt the central shrine of Adipureeswarar and erected a vimanam with black stone. Great Saivite saints Pattinathar, Ramalinga Adigalar, Appar, Sambandar had visited this temple and sung the glory of the Lord.

There is also one Tripata Trimurthy shrine which combines Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma; which shows that Vishnu and Brahma are engaged in the worship of Shiva. A separate shrine for Vadivudaiyammai is also there, which attracts large crowds during the month of Aadi on Tuesdays and Fridays. There are separate shrines for other deities like Ganapathy, Subramanya etc. You can also see the images of the 63 Saivite saints inscribed around the main shrine of Adipureeswarar.

The temple architecture is superb and is one of the three important Shivasthalams (places where Lord Shiva is worshipped) other than Thiruvanmiyur (Marundeeswarar) and Thirumayilai (Kapaleeswarar). This temple is associated greatly with dance of the Lord which is widely known as ‘Sundaranatanam’ which means dance of Sundarar (another name of Lord Shiva). The most impressive thing in the temple is its Rajagopuram and mandapams. The temple is situated in a vast compound and the inscriptions on the pillars of the mandapams are that of the 12th Century.

Festivals in this temple are celebrated with great significance and are related to the dance of Thyagaraja. The Saivite saint Sundarar’s association with this temple is also celebrated with great reverence.

THIRUVANMIYUR TEMPLE
This old temple is situated in Thiruvanmiyur on the road to Mamallapuram. It was built in the 11th Century by the Cholas. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Marundeeswarar (Lord Shiva). It is said that the author of Ramayana, Valmiki worshipped here. The name is due to his association. ‘Valmikiyur’ in due course became ‘Vanmikiyur’ and finally ‘Vanmiyur’. A shrine dedicated to Valmiki and Pamban Swamigal Samadhi is also found near this shrine.  

A few decades ago, the Marundeeswarar temple at Tiruvanmiyur used to be virtually deserted. Today, it has been colourfully painted up and receives a steady crowd. The name of the temple tells the story. Lord Shiva is said to have given relief from health problems to the sage Agastya, the Sun God and the Moon God here. While Agastya was suffering from a stomach ache after he had vatapi, the Sun and Moon were suffering from a terrible disease because of ‘gurupatni dosham’. It was Agastya who named the deity as ‘Aushadeeswarar’, the Tamil translation of which is ‘Marundeeswarar’.

The Sun and the Moon, it is said, perform puja at this temple every evening. The deity faces west as the Sun does the honours at sunset time. Unlike other Shiva temples, this temple does not have a shrine to the Navagrahas because the Sun and Moon are in prayer mode here.

The main ‘lingam’ is described as Swayambu. He is also called ‘Palvannanathan’ because Kamadhenu, the divine cow, used to shower him with milk constantly. There is a small pit on the ‘head’ of the deity which legend says is the mark of Kamadhenu’s hoof. The ‘devi’ here is Thiruppurasundari.

There is an architectural peculiarity in this temple. Part of it has been built in the Chola style of architecture and part of it in the Pallava style. The Kumbabhishekam after renovation was conducted in 1995. Those who visit this temple sincerely believe, as do the priests, that the mixture of sacred ash, milk and water offered at the temple and consumed thereafter can cure any ailment.

THIRUPORUR TEMPLE
This temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga and is situated about 40 km south of Chennai. The Thiruporur temple is located at a place named Thiruporur which is believed to be the place where Tarakasuran was vanquished by Lord Subrahmanya. Soora Samharam, the defeat and salvation to the demon Soorapadman, is an important festival of this temple. It was built by Chidambara Swamigal in the mid-17th Century. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shanmuga and there is a shrine of Devayani inside the temple courtyard. A tank lies on the southern side of the temple and is known as Vallayaar Odai or Shanmuga Theertham.

There are two chakras (wheel) in the temple which were installed by Swamigal. The first chakra known as ‘Srichakra’ is on the left hand of Lord Shanmuga and the second chakra, which is known as ‘Theertha-chakra’ is present in the sanctum sanctorum.
The five smaller shrines located in the temple are of Vinayaka; Lord Muruga with abhaya and varada-hasta; Lord Muruga where he resides with his staff varada-hasta and dhandayudha; Subrahmanya with kamandalu and rosary in hands; and Goddess Durga.

The presiding deity, Lord Shanmuga, is also known as Kandaswamy. There are beautiful stone inscriptions inside and it is believed that the Chola kings used to worship the deity of this temple. The shrine of Devayani has the image of Arcot Nawab inscribed on it.

The stone idol of Lord Shanmuga faces the eastern side and is beautifully adorned with ornaments. An important thing in this temple is that only a particular priest has the right to change the cloth of Lord Shanmuga and put the silver shield on him. A smaller deity is also present near the main idol, which is known as ‘chinnavar’ or younger.

Month: December 2010.

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