Chennai

An age-old festival celebrated on beach

Nayanmar saint’s sacrifice remembered

Every year, fishermen of Nambiar Nagar in Nagapattinam district perform a unique ritual in which they throw a silver and gold coloured fish into the sea on the day of the Aayilyam star in the Tamil month of Aavani.

This is in remembrance of Adhibhaktha Nayanar, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva and one of the 63 Nayanmar saints.

Nayanar was the chieftain of the fishing village and every day, the first fish that he caught used to be thrown back into the sea as an offering to Lord Shiva.

“He lived in the area several centuries ago and the Lord, wanting to test his devotion, had ensured that there was no fish in his net for a few days and his family had to go without any food. Then, on one day, he caught a golden fish. Despite the villagers telling him not to let it back into the sea, he did so. Then the Lord appeared in front of him and blessed him. That day happened to be the Aayilyam star,” said S. Kumar, president of the Nambiar Nagar Fishermen’s Cooperative Society, who is part of the festival’s organising committee.

Recently, the residents of Nambiar Nagar celebrated the festival in a grand manner with the idols of Sri Kayarohanaswamy and His consort Neelayadhakshi Amman being brought to the sea shore from the temple. The villagers tied the gold and silver fish to his idol in a symbolic manner and then let them into the sea. Ministers D. Jayakumar and O.S. Manian attended the festival.

The festival was revived only after 2000 when Bharatanatyam dancer Padma Subrahmanyam came upon the lore of the Nayanmar and approached the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, asking that it be revived, Mr. Kumar added.

“The village had a math in the name of the Nayanmar but it was in a state of disrepair. That place was repaired and a temple functions from there now. The fishermen bring the items required for puja from the math,” explained B. Kannan, Veena vidwan and nephew of Ms. Subrahmanyam. Many devotees from Kerala and Karnataka too take part in the festivities.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:35:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/an-age-old-festival-celebrated-on-beach/article24963017.ece

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