History & Culture

Ariyakudi: where the deity appeared for His devotee

Aravamudhan at Thiruvengadamudaiyan temple, in Ariyakudi

Aravamudhan at Thiruvengadamudaiyan temple, in Ariyakudi  

Efforts are on to revive important festivals at the ancient Thiruvengadamudaiyan temple in Ariyakudi

Ariyakudi, a village near Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu, has a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the biggest in the region. Called the Thiruvengatamudaiyan temple, it has a lofty seven-tier rajagopuram that adorns the façade of the temple at its Eastern entrance.

It is said that Sevukan Chettiyar, an ardent devotee of Lord Srinivasa, used to visit Tirupati every year by foot to worship the Lord on the Purattasi Thiruvonam day. During one such journey, he fell ill. The Lord of Tirumala assured Sevukan that He would provide darshan to him at Ariyakudi itself. Thus came up the Perumal temple, which also has a separate niche for Alarmel Mangai Thayar.

As Purattasi Thiruvonam turned out to be special after this incident, people, especially from the Chettiar community congregate in large numbers at the temple to celebrate it.

Joint procession

Every year on Vijayadasami, a joint procession of Lord Srinivasa and Lord Siva (from the temple opposite) is taken around the village. This year it coincided with Purattasi Thiruvonam (October 8) and it turned out to be a twin treat for the devotees.

The Vaikasi Brahmotsavam was one of the major annual utsavams of the temple till the 1950s and 1960s. Devotees from various places would throng Ariyakudi to get a glimpse of the special alankaram of Perumal and Thayar and participate in the processions. “My father would carefully choose the jewellery to match the alankaram and vahanam on each day of the Brahmotsavam. He would spend hours in decorating the Lord,” says Thirumalai Bhattar, whose family has served the temple for over a century.

The Lord’s procession on the golden Garuda Vahanam used to take place on the fourth day of the Brahmotsavam and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar would render the Pancharatna krtis from the beginning till the end of the procession. The Vairamudi Seva is one of the special alankarams done on the fifth day of the utsavam. However, this has been done away with.

Either for safety reasons or due to lack of personnel, certain rituals and festivals at the temple have been stopped abruptly. The chariot festival of Vedanta Desikar, which used to take place as part of his avarata utsavam has been stopped as the chariot is no more functional. Plans are on to build a new chariot to revive the Desikar Utsavam as also the Pavitrotsavam.

However, conducting the Brahmotsavam is becoming increasingly challenging. The temple solicits donations for the same. Those interested can call, 94866 34228.

The temple is open from 7.30 a.m.-12.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m.-8 p.m.

How to reach: The temple is about three km from the Karaikudi railway station. An auto from the station costs Rs.80. Mini buses ply from Karaikudi bus stand to the temple.

Reviving a lost glory

S. Aravamudhan (87) was a resident of the agraharam near the Thiruvengada-mudaiyan temple and has been working at the temple since 1943. His family had the Sthaneegam rights at the temple. His father Srinivasa Gopalachariar was a scholar in both Vedic hymns and Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and served full time at the temple, including the Vedanta Desikar Sannidhi.

As a young boy, Aravamudhan, apart from the temple chores, took special interest in decorating Desikar during the avathara utsavam. He cherishes the Chariot festival the most, when many from the neighbouring villages used to come to witness the grand event, followed by Theppotsavam.

Other than scholars in Ariyakudi, his father used to organise Veda Parayanam and Prabhandham scholars from Kanchipuram and Srirangam for the Vaikasi Brahmotsavam and Purattasi Desikar Utsavam. “Music and Dance programmes were an integral part of the Brahmotsavam celebrations,” says Aravamudhan. Eminent musicians such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar and D.K. Pattammal have performed during the Brahmotsavam.

“As a young boy, I have seen him and my father spending several hours sitting on the thinnai (pyol) discussing various topics, including music.”

Aravamudhan and his forefathers had custody of the temple jewellery. During the two annual utsavams, the jewellery would be handed over to the archakas to decorate the lord for the processions. “As the Lord made His way around the streets, one could feel the happiness among the devotees in watching Him with special alankaram and glittering jewellery.” Due to lack of funds and archakas to perform the rituals, many annual festivals have come to a halt.

As a former resident, Aravamudhan is keen on bringing back the lost glory. With help from his son, efforts were taken to clear the debris along the canals in Ariyakudi to facilitate the inflow of rain water into the farming land as well as into the temple tank. Hopes are riding high to see more such people helping the temple.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:20:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/ariyakudi-where-the-lord-appeared-for-his-devotee/article29909322.ece

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