Ritual to cover 12 temples in Kalkulam taluk in Kanyakumari
Devotees from various southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are all set to undertake the Sivalaya Ottam from the famed Mahadevar temple at Thirumalai in Munchirai on Sunday.
The religious observance, held annually in connection with the Maha Sivaratri festival, will begin after devotees take a holy dip in the Tamirabarani river. People from all walks of life participate in the marathon run to cover 12 Siva temples located in Kalkulam taluk. They are expected to cover 125 km within 24 hours.
Special pujas will be performed at the Thirumalai temple after the ‘Pradosam' puja (held around 5.30 p.m.) on Sunday to mark the beginning of the Sivalaya Ottam.
The devotees will then ‘run' through Thikkurichi, Thirparappu, Thirunanthikkarai, Ponmanai, Panthippakam, Kalkulam, Melinancode (Melancode), Thirvuadaicode, Thiruvithancode, Thirupanthiyode, and Thriunattalam.
The ‘ottam' will come to an end at the Sankaranarayanar temple at Thirunattalam. The specialty of this temple is that prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu here; the only such temple among the 12 temples connected with the Sivalaya Ottam. The idols of Siva and Vishnu sit face to face at Thirunattalam. While devotees receive sandal paste as ‘prasadam' at this temple, they are given ‘vibhuthi' or ash at the other 11 temples.
“Even as the tradition of running barefoot is followed by a few devotees from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, others prefer to visit the 12 Siva temples in vehicles,” says Krishamurthy, Melsanthi (chief priest) of Kalkulam Thirunainar Neelakandaswamy temple at Padmanabhapuram, once the capital of erstwhile Travancore.
The only one among the 12 temples where the devotees can see both ‘Swamy' and ‘Amman' is the Neelakandaswamy temple. This temple has some unique features such as a gigantic Raja Gopuram. A car and float festival are organised in March and October ever year.
The district administration of Kanyakumari has put in place infrastructure, drinking water and toilets in particular, at these temples.
With the district reeling under acute power cut, the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment has made arrangements to install generators in the 12 temples.
The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation will operate hourly circuit bus services from Marthandam covering the 12 temples for two days starting Sunday evening.
Keywords: Sivalaya Ottam