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Thirukadaiyur History (தல வரலாறு)

Sri Amirthagateswarar Abhirami Temple (திருக்கடையூர் ஸ்ரீ அமிர்தகடேசுவரர் கோயில் is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in his manifestation as "Destroyer of Death" and his wife Parvati as Abhirami. It is located in Thirukkadaiyur (Thirukadavur), 21 km East of MayiladuthuraiTamil Nadu in India. This temple is associated with the legend of Shiva saving his young devotee, Markendeya from death, and the tale of a saint, Abirami Pattar a devotee of the presiding goddess.

The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.The temple complex covers 10 acres and has two gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 46 metres (151 ft). The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Amirthaghateswarar and Abhirami being the most prominent.

The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Thanjavur Nayaks. The temple is maintained and administered by the Dharmapuram Aadhenam.

Brahmapureeswarar Temple at Thirukadaiyur Mayanam or Brahmapureeswarar Temple Thirumeiganam, Pillaiperumalnallur, another famous Padal Petra Shiva Sthalam is located nearby, easterly.

This famous shrine is one of eight veerattanams (avatars) of Lord Shiva. This temple belongs to Dharmapuram Aadinam (Mutt). Songs have been sung by the famous Tamil Trinity of Appar, Sundarar, and Thirugnanasambandar about the deities in this temple. Thirukkadaiyur is further purified by the holy trees like Pinchilam (a 2000-year-old tree) and Bael (vilvam) tree.  According to legend, before beginning to churn the paarkadal (Ocean of Milk) for amirtham (nectar), the Devas and Asuras neglected to pray to the Lord Vinayaka (Ganesha), thus angering the might elephant-headed god who stole the amirthakalasam (pot of nectar) and hid it.   

Lord Shiva advised them to apologise to Lord Vinayaka.  The pot later became a shivalingam.  Hence the moolavar (main idol) is known as Lord Amirthakadeswarar (amirtham + kadam/kalasam = nectar + pot).  Since Lord Vinayaka hid the amirthakalasam he is also known by the name Kallavaaranam.

The famous votary of Goddess Abirami, the Abhirami Bhattar has sung string of 100 pathigams and andhadhis about Lord Kallavaaranam for the benefit of all.  It is said that whoever chants the andhadis with devotion shall gain prosperity and happiness.

Thirukadaiyur is the place where Lord Shiva bestowed immortality to Sri Maarkandeya and bestowed upon him the boon that he would remain sixteen forever after He destroyed the God of Death, Yama, thus saving his votary’s life.  He later granted Yama absolution for the sake of Goddess Bhumadevi (Earth).

Since the Lord killed Yama for the sake of his votary he is known as Lord Mrithunjayamoorthi.  As the presiding deity is the destroyer of the God of Death, the ceremonial rites connected with this are Ugraratha shanti, performed by people who are celebrating their 60th birthday, Shashtiaptapoorthi at the beginning of their 61st birthday, Bheemaratha shanti on the occasion of their 70th birthday.  Octogenarians get themselves purified and protected by performing and Sadabhishekam and “Ayush homam.

Another famous festival is the annual “Yama samharam” (lit. destruction of Yama) which is celebrated during the first month of the Tamil year, Chithirai (Mesha month) during Magam star.

Other important functions that take place here are Ayush homam (prayer for longevity and prosperity of life) for children to remove any future astrological difficulties arising from the movement of the Navagrahas (nine planets).  If anybody suffers from a serious disease and is on the verge of death, Mrithunjaya homam (lit. prayer for victory over death) is performed here in an effort to save their lives and to relieve them from their illness.  Devotees strongly believe that this actually works.

It is the place where two of the 63 Naayanmars, viz., Gungiliya Naayanar and Kaari Naayanar rendered services to get the blessings of the Lord.

During the rule of King Sarfoji, Goddess Abirami, for the sake of her votary, Abirami Bhattar, threw one of her ear studs (thadangam) towards the sky on a new moon day (Amavasai).  The round stud shone like the moon itself, thus turning the new moon day into a full moon day (Pournami).  The votary Abirami Bhattar has sung the famous “Abirami Andhadhi” praising Goddess Abirami for having saved him from the death sentence as ordered by the King. Goddess Abirami later forgave the king and blessed her staunch devotee.  This is one of the many legends connected with the holy city of Thirukadaiyur.

 In the Tamil calendar, during the month of Kaarthigai (Viruchiga month), on every Monday, the priests perform “shankaabishegam” with 1008 shankas (conches) of the deities for the welfare of the people.

 Thirukadaiyur has its own significant place in the history of Tamil Nadu as one of the most ancient temples in India.