Friday, January 25, 2013

27 Star Vedhalams!

Sri Kandaswamy Temple, Cheyyur

Sometimes you just stumble upon awesome temples, without really preparing to visit them. One such jewel is the Sri Kandaswamiyar Temple at Cheyyur which I had visited a couple of weeks ago as part of a REACH Foundation heritage trip.

We set out at 5.00 am in the morning and after a lot of climbing,walking, photographing etc. by the time we reached the Kandaswamy temple, we were quite exhausted. But all our fatigue vanished once we were inside this temple which is unique in more than one way.

The ancient temple has no gopuram at the entrance. Road construction over the years has resulted in swallowing parts of the idols in the multiple pillars that stand in front of the temple.

Partially buried pillars in front of the temple

The temple faces South while the main sanctum sanctorum faces East. Inside the main shrine, one can see Sri Kandaswamy with his consorts Valli and Deivaanai. Sri Kandaswamy is flanked by the Dwarapalakas, Suveeran and Sujanan on either side.

On entering the temple, one can find the Sri Somanathar, Meenakshiammai Shrine to the left of the front Mandapa. Here Brahma and Vishnu flank either side of the shrine and Nandi is found in front of the shrine.

The Somanathar - Meenakshiammai Shrine at the temple
There are two entrances to the temple. One is through the South facing main entrance . To the East of the outer Prakaram, one can see the ancient stone Dwajasthamba and Kodimaram facing the Main shrine. There is an entrance through the East through which also one can reach the inner prakaram and the Artha Mandapa.


An unique feature of this temple is that all Goshta Devathas are different forms of Sri Subramanya. Usually in Saivaite temples one can see Vinayaka, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingothbhavar or Vishnu, Brahma, Chandikeshwara, Durga, Bhairava, and Surya are seen as Goshta Devathas. But in this temple, one can see that there is Nrittaskanda instead of Vinayaka, Brahmasastha instead of Dakshinamoorthy,  Balaskanda instead of Vishnu, Sivagurunatha instead of Brahma and Pulindhar (Lord Muruga in the form of a hunter) instead of Durga.

The beautiful Nrittaskanda
Moreover, Chandikeshwara and Bhairava who are normally found in Shiva temples are found here in their usual places. The Surya in this temple is called Guha Surya. Apart from these forms of Muruga, there is also an Arumughaswamy facing the Southern entrance.

Brahmasastha in place of Dakshinamoorthy

On the outer prahara, as we circumambulate, we can find Ganesha shrine and a Nandavanam to the North of the Sanctum Sanctorum.  The Sthala Vrikshams of this temple are Vanni and Karungali.

Balaskanda
To the North of the Dwajasthamba, is the Amman shrine and there is a Sarva Vadya Mandapam in front of it. Till the year 1947, all kinds of musical instruments were played and dance recitals conducted during festivals in this mandapam.  Behind the Dwajasthamba, there is a separate Shrine for Navagrahas.
Pulindhar - Murugan with bow and arrow
The most unique feature of this temple is something that cannot be found in any other temple in the world. There are 27 Star Vethalams (Bethals) one for each star. We may recall reading about Vethalams in King Vikramaditya’s story.  The Vethalas found here are those Sivaganas that had served on Lord Muruga’s army and helped to fight demons like Soorapadman and others.

The 27 Star Vethalams 
These Vethalas obey the instructions of Bhairava. Which is why we find Bhairava here alongside the Vethalas. On the Ashtami that falls after Full moon day (Theipirai Ashtami) devotees worship the Vethala that belongs to their star and pray before it to find their wishes being fulfilled.  Every month several devotees are benefitted through this worship.

On the Ashtami after full moon day, the Vethala Puja starts with Vinayaka Sankalpa. Then at 5 pm, the Vethalas are worshipped with Red Arali flowers, and then at 7 pm, abhishekham is performed to Lord Muruga. This is followed by Archana to Lord Bhairava with eight different types of flowers.

List of the 27 star Vethalams:

S.No
Name of the VethalamStar
1
Nagayudhapani Bootha Vethalam
Aswini
2
Vajradhaari Bootha Vethalam
Bharani
3
Vairagya Bootha Vethalam
Krithigai
4
Katkadhari Bootha Vethalam
Rohini
5
Gnana Bootha Vethalam
Mrigaseerisham
6
Thomara Bootha Vethalam
Thiruvaadhirai
7
Vakradantha Bootha Vethalam
Punarpoosam
8
Visaala Nethra Bootha Vethalam
Poosam
9
Anandha Bhairava Bhaktha Bootha Vethalam
Aayilyam
10
Gnanaskandha Baktha Bootha Vethalam
Magam
11
Tharpagara Bootha Vethalam
Pooram
12
Veerabahu Sevaka Bootha Vethalam
Uthiram
13
Soorapadma Dwamsa Bootha Vethalam
Hastham
14
Thaarakaasura Imsa Bootha Vethalam
Chithirai
15
Anadha Guha Bhaktha Bootha Vethalam
Swathi
16
Sooranipuna Bootha Vethalam
Visakam
17
Chandakoba Bootha Vethalam
Anusham
18
Singamukhasura Imsa Bootha Vethalam
Kettai
19
Paraakrama Bootha Vethalam
Moolam
20
Mahodhara Bootha Vethalam
Pooradam
21
Oorthuva Shikhabandha Bootha Vethalam
Uthiraadam
22
Gadhapani Bootha Vethalam
Thiruvonam
23
Chakrapani Bootha Vethalam
Avittam
24
Perunda Bootha Vethalam
Sadhayam
25
Goraroopa Bootha Vethalam
Poorattaadhi
26
Ruru Bhairava Sevaka Bootha Vethalam
Uthirattaadhi
27
Kurodhana Bhairava Bhaktha Bootha Vethalam
Revathy

Periyandavar Puja is also performed here
Periyandavar Puja is also observed at this temple. Outside the temple, on the Navasandhis,  there are nine Vinayakas said to have been worshipped by the Navagrahas. These also add to the uniqueness of the temple. To the West of the temple, is a tank called Chettikulam. Chetty is one of the names by which Lord Muruga is known. This tank belongs to the temple.

Festivals celebrated at the Kandaswamy Temple

Sri Kandaswamy with his consorts inside the Santum Sanctorum

Aadi Krithigai, Kandha Sashti, Soorasamhaaram, Karthigai Deepam, Thai Poosam, Panguni Uthiram and Vaikasi Visakam days are celebrated at the temple amidst a huge crowd of devotees. During Kadha Sashthi, the Vel Vaangum Vizha is celebrated behind the Mahodhara Bootha Vethalam belonging to Pooradam star.

Literary works on the Cheyyur Kandaswamy Temple

There are several works on Sri Kandaswamy at Cheyyur. Andhaka kavi Veeraraghava Mudaliyar has composed the Cheyyur Murugan Pillaithamizh and Cheyyur Kalambakam. Cherai Kaviraja Pillai has composed Cheyyur Murugan Ula , Sri Murugadas Swamigal, Cheyyur Murugan Pathigam and Sivaprakasa Swamigal, Nenju Vidu Thoodhu.

By far the most important aspect of this temple, is that it has verses sung on Sri Kandaswamy by Arunagirinathar and features in the Thiruppugazh. The verses of the Thirupugazh are found inscribed in the wall of the Artha mandapa and there is also a statue of Saint Arunagirinathar in the temple.

Arunagirinathar's verses inscribed in the temple
Whichever temple I happen to visit, I always ask for the Sthalapuranam which describes the history of the temple and all its unique features. When I did the same at this temple, I was given the photocopy of a sthalapuranam written in the year 1944 by Sri Muthiah Mudaliyar of Cheyyur. This gave me a perfect opportunity to ask if Aalayam Kanden could be involved in writing and printing the Sthalapuranam of the temple in Tamil and English. The villagers happily agreed.

Those of you who have been following the Aalayam Kanden blog and Facebook page for some time, will know that Aalayam Kanden Trust has been involved in writing, printing and distributing Sthalapuranams for ancient lesser known temples. This was one such opportunity. Using the extensive 70 year old book as reference , we have been able to write and produce a crisp booklet, suited with the times, that gives the history of the temple in Tamil and English.

The wrapper of the Sthalapuranam of Cheyyur Sri Kandaswamy Temple
To be released on 27th of January 2013 
The launch of this booklet is scheduled for Thai Poosam Day this year, which falls on the coming Sunday, 27th of January 2013 at 4 pm. All are welcome.

How to Reach:


Cheyyur is a taluk in Kanchipuram District of Tamilnadu. One can reach Cheyyur through two routes, one through Madurantakam and the other through the East Coast Road, that goes towards Puducherry. This town is about 29 kms from Madurantakam and 5 kms from the Ellaiamman Koil Bus Stop on East Coast Road (ECR).
The nearest airport is Chennai and railway station is Chengalpattu. 

Temple Timings

Morning 7 am to 11 am – Pooja at 9 am
Evening 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm (on Astami days after full moon from 5 pm to 9 pm)

Contacts:

Shri. Chandrasekara Gurukkal/ Shakthi Gurukkal  – 94447 29512


17 comments:

  1. Nice temple. That is a good find.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  2. Really very interesting to read. We have much more to be "unearthed".

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  3. wonderful post, Priya! I had heard of this temple earlier, but all this information was completely new! you are adding temples to the long list i have of temples i just have to visit the next time i visit tamilnadu!

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    1. U must visit when you are here next, Anu! You'll love it!

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  4. Thank you very much for the wonderful coverage of this beautiful temple. You have explained so many details well and thanks.
    Indeed a treasure.
    Regards
    Dr.R.Krishnan

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  5. Great work & Appreciated, thanks a lot and god bless...Regards

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  6. Thank you Madam for the nice coverage of this beautiful temple.Though I have visited this temple once as the last leg of our tour to temples around Maduranthakam,at about 6:30 pm ,we could not get so much of these details.I am glad you have released a Sthala Puranas for this temple, yesterday.I would also like to get a copy of the same.Pl inform the details from where I could get it.I am at Chennai only and hence buying it from anywhere in Chennai will not be an issue.

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  7. Dear Mr Nathan, The Sthalapuranam will be available at the Trust's registered office in Mambalam and can be couriered to you if you can send us your complete address and contact details at aalayamkanden@gmail.com. The cost( including postage) is Rs.30/-

    Regards
    Priya

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  8. hi priya i appreciate your wonderful work...............may i know the meaning of Thoamara word.....................pls reply if you know

    - subbu

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  9. Thanks for your updating my native place temple

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  10. simply inspiring. Am thankful to blogger from deepest corner of my heart. Hari Om!

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  11. Thanks for the wonderful share. God bless you...

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  12. Recently visited the temple by chance. Inspiring temple. Village Head was very kind and explained in detail about sthalapurana.

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