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Visit of the Divine Mendicant.

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On April,25,2009 I was sitting along with the family members on the long raised platform with the crowd of villagers at the inside first Prakaram of the ancient Temple at Thiruchengattangudi, for the arrival of the divine mendicant who has been visiting this place on Bharani in the month of Chithirai for the past 1400 years without fail around 2.00 PM. Just by my side a devout couple of husband and wife from Chennai were reading holy book of Peria Puranam explaining the significance of this day. The heat at Chola Desam (land of the Cholas) at this time of the year is well known, so hot and sultry, that literally I was drenched in my sweat. The village folk who knew this well have brought hand held palmyra fans to cool themselves. Liberal minded divotees were sprinkling rose water on the crowd.
Suddenly there was commotion near the southern entrance of inside prakaram, the sweet sound of nadaswaram and other Temple accompaniments came from the entrance. There, carried on the shoulders of bearers He came out mounted on his decorated, fairly large, Chapparam (palanquin) in a hurry, a majestic personality to the word as described beautifully by Poet Sekizhar in his magnum opusPeriya Puranam“. The mendicant from north was Bhairava known as “Uthirapathi“ (Lord from North). His long matted hair bedecked with flowers were gathered and held in a top knot. Rubied pendents of shells dangled both sides of his ears. He had covered his body with the tusker's hide that he had peeled off. He held the radiant Trident in his left hand and held the little drum (udukkai) in his right hand. When the divine mendicant passed the first prakaram the crowed melted off to the outer South Mada Veedhi (South Mada Street) to occupy vantage position to view the procession there. We too followed and waited for quite some time before we heard the music of Nadaswaram, drums and trumpets heralding the arrival of the Lord's Chapram underneath the flowered canopy of beautifully a decorated huge parosol carried by the bearers .Ofcourse the fully caparisoned Temple Elephant led the procession now.
At one time in the past, this obscure holi place Tiruchengattangudi near Nannilam in Tamil Nadu must have been an important town busy with activity. For, this was the birth place of Paranjothi, the famous commander of the army of Pallava king Narasimhavarman who conquered the mighty Chalukya King Pulikesin II of Vadapi (Badami). It is said he brought the idol of Ganapathy from Vadapi and installed it in this temple at Tiruchangattangudi also known as Ganapatheecharam. Even today the roads are very broad such a small hamlet. Interestingly when you look at the rows of tiled old houses it seems time stands still in this place for centuries. People have also not changed much, I could see women sprinkling vessels of water on the hot tarred road to cool down, showing their concern to thousands of devotees who pass through the village. There were charitable people offering free food and water to hungry villagers who gather for the festival.
After conquering Chalukyas of Vadapi, the Pallava General Paramjothy found the futility of war and preferred to lead an ascetic life under the name of Siruthondar in his home town Tiruchangattengudi.The story of Siruthonda Nayanar is unique among the Saiva Nayanmars. It is a story of a extreme devotion and sacrifice to the extent of offering his only son to satisfy the hunger of Lord. . Poet Sekkizhar covers the life of Siruthonada Nayanar by 88 stanzas in his Peria Puranam. The festival is held every year to commemorate this incident only. For a detailed account of Siruthonda Nayanar please visit
Another interesting fact is that Isai Arasu M.M. Dandapani Desigar (Aug 27,1908-June 26,1972) was born at Tiruchangattangudi.

Again last month we had been to Tiruchangattangudi to have a dharshan and to see this ancient Temple on a normal day without crowd. Surprisingly we were the only pilgrims in the Temple at that time. The temple gurukkal took us round leisurely and explained the significance of this temple.The idol of Lord Ganapathy brought from Vathapi by Paramjothy (Siruthonadar) has been inbstalled at the Southern part of Ardha Mandapam in the Temple .This temple is also known as Ganapatheescharam. Though the Temple is said to have celebrated its Kumbabhishekam few years ago,the entire structure of this ancient Temple is in a dilapidated condition and undergoing repairs It is a sad sight to see the old Choultries in the Mada Veedhis are in ruinous condition. I am told that this temple which is under the management of Velankurichi Aatheenam, in Tirunelveli District, needs funds to complete the renovation work. How nice if some of the rich and mighty in the Hindu community come forward with funds to help this Sivasthalam to regain its past glory.

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