The consecration of the Thirumarainathar temple took place on March 19.

The temple for Thirumarainathar at Thiruvadavur in Madurai district is traditionally held to be the same as the Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple with only alterations in the names of the deities - though they are structurally different. It is averred in Vadapuri sthala mahathmiyam that Angayarkanni and Sokkanathar take the form of Vadapuriswarar (Thirumarainathar) and Aaranavalli at Thriuvadavur.

Tiruvadavur is also called Vadapuram, Vadavur, Vayupuram, Brahmapuram and Aranapuram. Besides these epithets, it is also referred to as Samyakavanam. It lies at a distance of 24 km from Madurai in the south-eastern direction and is located on the northern bank of River Vaigai. Buses ply from Madurai and Melur to this place.

The temple, which is facing east, boasts of a five-tier rajagopuram. Consecration took place on March 19 after renovation.

Vishnu’s curse

Legend has it that sage Brighu cursed Thirumal to be born on earth in different avatars for having beheaded his innocent and pious wife, Kavya Matha, and in His Ramavataram he would lose his wife (Sita Devi) and pine for her, akin to his own suffering. Vishnu approached Siva for relief from the curse. Siva directed Him to perform puja to a swayambu lingam in Siva theertham at Thiruvadavur. It is said that here Vishnu had to assume the form of water since he was not able to locate the lingam. Finally, he found it in the midst of a lotus flower and did penance. In due course Siva revealed to Thirumal the moola mantram, “Vedoham.” Siva joined Vishnu in the annihilation of Asuras even though Brighu’s curse would linger for some time. The birth of Anjaneya to Vayu and Anjana Devi to help Rama was again ordained at this place when Vayu invoked the blessings of Siva for the birth of a male child, full of erudition and unparalleled strength. It is said that the temple for Siva came up at Samyakavanam (Tiruvadavur), thanks to Vishnu, and later improved by Vayu, who named it Tiruvadavur. The modern temple seems to have been the contribution of two Pandyan kings, Rajasekara Pandyan and Mahasena Pandyan, devotees of Thirumarainathar and Aaranavalli.

The temple complex of Thirumarainathar and Aaranavalli is a sprawling five acre area, with number of finely built mantapams, which are supported by pillars designed to produce musical notes on striking. To the left of the temple is a big tank locally called ‘kanmaai,’ which is Vishnu theertham. About the centre of the tank is a pair of stone pillars with cross beams on which rests ‘Purusha Mirugam’ (both animal and human forms). This is the guardian deity of this temple. There is another guardian deity nearby called Varadapidari Amman.

On entering the outer prakaram (first) of the temple, to the left is the geometrically built ‘Bhairava tirtham’ with a flight of steps leading to the sacred tree, Mahisham. On the opposite side is the ‘nootrukal mantapam’ full of convolute sculptures called ‘kodungai,’ said to have been established by Manickavachagar who was reported to have heard the tinkling sound of Siva’s anklets at this mantapam.

The second prakaram can be reached through a huge fortress like wall. In fact the whole temple complex was once inside a fortress built during Pandya rule, and with passage of time, the walls gave way and the only wall that remains is protecting the big tank on the western side. On the right side near the entrance to the second prakaram is a niche for a four-armed Muruga with His consorts, and mount peacock and on the left is Vinayaka.

A 16-pillar mantapam stands near the entrance to the second prakaram and in between is the flagstaff. Joined to this mantapam is the Somavara mantapam, walls of which carry verses from Thiruvachagam and Thiruvembavai.

In the maha mantapam the note-worthy feature is the presence of utsava idols and those of Nataraja and Sivakami in bronze, besides an old version of the statue of Manickavachagar. In the garbha griha is the swayambhu lingam of Thirumarainathar. Aaranavalli thayar in dhyana mudra, found by the side of the lingam, is the highlight here. There is also a separate shrine for her on the southern side of the second prakaram. Another striking feature is the presence of Thiruvadi by the side of the lingam which alone is taken to palli arai as in the Madurai Meenakshi temple.

The aarukaal mantapam, outside the Somavara mandapam, has sculptures in Kodungai style on its pillars. Many inscriptions are found by the side of Dakshinamurthy sannidhi, on the southern wall of the garbha griha. The garbha griha carries a beautiful vimanam. The idol of Aarana valli is four-feet high with a captivating smile.

On the western side of the second prakaram is the shrine for Manickavachagar. He is seen with Thiruvachagam palm-leaf scripts in his right hand. There is, however, a separate temple for him in Thiruvadavur since it is his birthplace. His hymns 656 under Thiruvachagam and 400 under Thirukovaiyar fall under the eighth Thirumurai. On the northern portion of the second prakaram are the shrines for Chandikeswarar and Natarajar (Adalarasar). Near its eastern end and facing south is the Thiruchabhai of Nataraja.

Thiruvadavur is a thevara ‘vaippu’ sthalam as seen from Sambandar’s kshetra kovai. The inscriptions on the stone pillars supporting purusha mirugam, side walls of Aaru kaal mantapam and on the eastern wall near Kala Bhairavar have all been copied under South Indian inscription series under serial Nos. 423 and 424 in the year 1903. Mostly these inscriptions relate to the period of Maravarman Sundara Pandya and Maravarman Kulasekara.

The temple has an interesting array of festivals starting from the month of Chithirai to Masi. Varadhapidari Amman festival is held for ten days and the temple car festival will take place on the ninth day. Brahmotsavam is held in Vaikasi for ten days. Manickavachagar festival will take place in Avani and Purattasi.