Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Kula Deivam

After some research my parents seem to have have finally found out that our Kula Deivam (family deity) is Sri Kaliya Perumal in Thanjavur district. Until this discovery our adopted Kula Deivam was (by default I guess) Sri Srinivasa of Thirupati or in Vaishnavite slang - ThiruvEnkatamudaiyan.

My parents paid a visit to our Kula Deivam, Sri Kaliya Perumal, recently. Here is their first person narrative of the trip along with the Sthala Puranam (history of the temple).

The Coordinates - Our Kula Deivam temple is situated near Ariyalur, about 4 halts before Srirangam in the Chennai-Tiruchirapalli train route. By road it it is situated in the Thanjavur-Ariyalur route and is about 10 Km from Ariyalur, and an hour and a half drive from Thanjavur. Contrary to our expectations the temple is big and appears to be wealthy also.

The Deities - The Moolavar [1] Kaliya Perumal is in the form of a Sthambam (pillar), about 12 feet high, with a small Anjaneyar (Hanuman) in the bottom. The Moolavar has been traditionally maintained by a Vanniyar Padayachi [2] family. The priest is also a Padayachi and the Archanai (prayer worship) is done in Tamizh. The Utsavar is Kaliyuga Varadhan and is maintained by an Iyengar Bhattar. It is said that there will be a heavy crowd on all Saturdays.

The Sthala Puranam - About 250 years back a person named Gopalan Padaiyachi was living in the village, which is named Gopalan Kudikkadu after him since he was responsible for most of the village's development. He had a son Mangan who after marriage was taking care of the village. Mangan had a big fleet of cows, and one morning one of his cows which was pregnant was found missing. He searched all over for the cow in vain. Three days after this incident a Swami appeared in his dream and and informed about the whereabouts of the cow; in a forest under a Mavilinga tree.

Mangan in the morning went to the place in the morning and on seeing him, the cow came rushing to him with affection. Mangan also noticed a Sthambam with the Hanuman shape next to the tress. He prayed to the Stahmbam as the deity and returned back to his village. On the seventh day the Swami appeared in his dream again and said the following.

"Hey how innocent you are. You had the fortune of seeing the Lord but you took back the cow only and left the Lord which also belongs to you. Your ancestors were worshipping Lord Vishnu. The wanted to errect a temple and prepared the Sthambam and were carrying it in a cart. The axle broke on the way and the Sthambam fell and the tip broke. They left the Sthambam in the same place and came back. Now it is your duty to establish the Sthambam and the temple and worship. I will be protecting you and your vamsam (lineage). Further I have taken this Avatharam to remove the worries of people in Kaliyuga, and hence my name will be Kaliyuga Perumal."

Mangan took the Sthambam and built the temple. His vamsam is still regularly performing the pujas and maintaining the temple. The statues of Mangan and his wife are also installed near the Moolavar in the praharam. The Mavilinga tree is also at the entrance of the Moolasthanam. It is believed that any prarthana made at the tree and also at the moolavar is fullfilled.

  1. Moolavar and Utsavar - In Tamil Nadu it has been the practice in all temples, to have two sets of idols - the Moolavar and the Utsavar. The Moolavar is carved out of stone and permanently fixed inside the sanctum sanctorum and the Utsavar made of metal, for use during festivals and also taken out in procession.
  2. Vanniyar Padayachi - Padayachi is one of the subsects of the Vanniyar caste. Traditionally Padayachis were foot soldiers.

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