The Kal Garuda Utsavam is a magical event where the weight of the Garuda mount keeps increasing.

The magical Kal Garuda Utsavam took place this past Thursday ( Dec. 20) on the occasion of the fourth day of the Margazhi Brahmotsavam with a night-long procession of Vanjulavalli Thaayar on a Hamsa Vahanam and Srinivasa Perumal atop the huge stone Garuda at the Thiru Naraiyur Nambi Divya Desam, dating back to the fifth Century A.D., in Nachiyar Koil.

Thiru Mangai Azhwar, who was initiated the Pancha Samaskara here by the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur, in his 100 verses of praise compares Him with Lord Srinivasa of Tirupati and says that he found the same beauty here as he had seen at Tirupati (Maan Konda Thol Maarvin….. Then Konda Saaral Thiruvenkathaanai Naan Sendru Naadi Naraiyuril Kandeney).

The only other Lord to receive 100 verses of praise from Thiru Mangai is Sowri Rajan of Thiru Kannapuram, a divyadesam about 25 km East of Nachiyar Koil.

Prominence to Nachiyar

The divyadesam in Thiru Naraiyur is one of the 108 Divya Desams where Goddess is given prominence over the Lord and hence the name of the divyadesam – Nachiyar Koil. On all festive occasions, the first rights are reserved for Nachiyar. Vanjularvalli Thaayar leads the way at the procession, ahead of Srinivasa perumal. Even food is served first to Vanjulavalli Nachiyar at this temple.

Inside the sanctum, Vanjula Valli Thayar is the one who is at the centre with Vasudeva Perumal slightly away by her side. Along with them, one also finds Pradyumna, Anirudha, Purushothama, Balarama and Brahma in a standing posture.

When Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam wanted Thirumangai to present the Madal* on him, Thirumangai replied ‘Madhil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ suggesting that he built the huge walls at Srirangam and the ‘letters and love songs’ were exclusively for the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur.

Built by the Chola King Ko Chenganan, Nachiyar Koil has 16 gopurams including the five- tiered rajagopuram. This is his first vaishnavite temple, the 71st, with the other 70 being saivite temples. Recognising this, Thiru Mangai has dedicated 10 verses in praise of Ko Chenganan. While Kanchipuram is referred as Athigiri and Tirupathi as Seshagiri, the temple at Thiru Naraiyur is hailed as Suganthagiri.

The Story

A huge and well-built Stone Garuda, the only one of its kind in any divyadesam, is of special significance at this temple and is seen adjacent to Vanjulavalli Thaayar and Srinivasa Perumal’s sannidhi. The story goes that a sculptor who was creating an image of Garuda suddenly found the idol flying after he had made its wings. Shocked at this sudden action, the sculptor threw a stone at Garuda striking him on the nose. Garuda came falling down and decided to stay here ever after and bless the devotees.

During the utsavam, Kal Garuda made his way out of his sanctum, at 7 p.m., to provide darshan to His devotees (including a family that had come all the way from Australia) who had gathered in large numbers inside this temple.

A special feature of this Kal Garuda utsavam was the magical event where Kal Garuda increased in weight during the procession. While only four people carried Kal Garuda out of his sanctum, as he advanced further out of each layer and prakaram, his weight increased manifold demanding eight, 16, 32 and 64 people to carry Him out into the Vahana mandapam at the entrance of the temple.

After the special alankaram that saw Kal Garuda draped in a new silk dhoti, decked with glittering jewels and with a huge flower garland, brought specially for this occasion from Srirangam, Vanjula Valli Thaayar led the handsome Srinivasa Perumal, mounted atop the Stone Garuda, out of the temple for the six-hour procession around the four mada streets of Nachiyar Koil.

As Kal Garuda stepped out from the Vahana mandapam, his weight had increased dramatically that 128 people were required to carry Him. Interestingly, early next morning, the Stone Garuda mount decreased in weight that only four people were required to carry Him ( the same number as the one when he departed the previous evening) back at the sanctum.

Another unique feature of this Utsavam was that one could see the Stone Garuda sweating profusely as he made his way out for the procession.

On Friday morning, Kal Garuda received first honours from Srinivasa Perumal at his sanctum, where the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur presented Garuda with His parivattam, dhoti and garland for having carried him effortlessly on to the streets of Nachiyar Koil, on this special occasion to provide darshan to all His devotees who had come from across the country, thus bringing to an end the one of its kind Kal Garuda Utsavam.

How to reach: Nachiyar Koil is about 10 km from Kumbakonam on the Tiruvarur Road. Buses are available every half-hour on this route. One may take an auto from Kumbakonam Railway Station for Rs.150.

Devotees may also visit Thiru Cherai, Thiru Kannamangai and Thiru Kannapuram divyadesams after worshipping the Lord at Nachiar Koil.

Special Features of Nachiyar Koil

One of the few Divya Desams with special prominence for Goddess

Thiru Mangai was initiated ‘Pancha Samaskara’ by Thiru Naraiyur Nambi

Kal Garuda increases in weight manifold during the 4th day Utsavam in Margazhi

108 idols of Divya Desam Lords seen here

Ancient 5th Century AD Temple built by Ko Chenganan

Thirumangai’s letter Thiru Naraiyur Nambi

Thirumangai Azhwar composed Madal comprising of Siriya Thiru Madal and Periya Thiru Madal in which he expressed his intent to embarrass and publicly humiliate the Lord by visualising himself as Parakala Nayaki and adopting the ‘Madal’ route to displaying his love and trying to force the Lord to accept the love.

In ancient Tamil tradition, when one falls in love, the message is conveyed to the other person through his friends. However, if his attempts turn futile, the man, in a final desperate move, resorted to Madal Erudhal - a practice of embarrassing and humiliating the girl in public. As part of this process, the lover would make a horse out of palm leaves, then draw the picture of his beloved on a cloth and hang it as a flag on the horse, wear a garland and go around the streets shouting slogans and crying in public, of betrayal of love in a bid to humiliate his lover, announcing as to how he has been suffering as a result of her not accepting his love. But for a girl to do such a thing was not a traditional practice as this was considered unbecoming of a woman. Thiru Mangai in the Madal says that since the Lord had not accepted the love despite repeated requests of Parakala Nayaki, the last option was to try and gain acceptance through the performance of Madal.

Even though Madal Eruthal by a woman was not accepted in Tamil culture, Thiru Mangai says that considering the state of the lovelorn Parakala Nayaki, this route had to be adopted based on Sanskrit literature and following the many examples that existed in the Northern culture.

In the Siriya Thirumadal, Parakala Nayaki refers to this intoxicated state of love with the entire composition being that of a Nayaki expressing her love in short lines through someone else. The identity of the lover of Parakala Nayaki is brought out through a soothsayer, who provides the description of the Nayaki’s lover by referring to the great qualities of the Lord.

In the Periya Thiru Madal, the narration is from the dejected lover herself and the terrible experience she has gone through in not being able to convince her man (Lord) accept her love. Here, she explains how the handsome Lord, seen in various Vishnu temples in different postures, has been the reason for her to fall in love as Parakala Nayaki. Periya Thiru Madal ends with the threat of her performing the forbidden Madal even if it was at the cost of her being rebuked by everyone.

The entire Madal – both Siriya Thirumadal and Periya Thirumadal – is directed at the Lord of Thiru Naraiyur as can be seen from the fact that Thirumangai opens and ends the Madal with reference to Thiru Naraiyur.

When Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam for whom Thiru Mangai built the famous huge walls requested him for Madal verses of praise, Thiru Mangai retorted ‘Madhil Inghe, Madal Anghe’ (Madhil - the big walls- here for you at Srirangam and Madal – the songs expressing love for the Lord – there for the Nambi at Thiru Naraiyur), thus signifying that the Madal was for the Thiru Naraiyur Lord.

Quick Facts

Deity: Thiru Naraiyur Nambi, Srinivasa Perumal East Facing Standing Posture

Goddess: Vanjula Valli Thaayar

Temple timing: 630am –12.30pm and 430pm-830pm

Contact : Gopinathan Bhattar@ 94435 97388 / 0435 2467167