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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Alagar Koyil

Azhakar Kovil (Thirumaliruncholai or Azhakar temple), is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu situated 21 km from the city of Madurai, which lies in the Tamil Nadu state of India.
When some historic and original facts surface, people tend to treat them with reverence as it seems to be happening in Thenur, a village in the interiors, 20 km off Madurai city.
Villagers here relive an event with much fanfare which is believed to have been performed here four Centuries ago.
“Mandooga Maharishi’s redemption is an event that was unique to our village. We are trying to revive the ritual,” says hereditary temple trustee P. Neduchezia Pandian.

The legend[edit]

The legend has it that sage Suthapas (Munivar) was bathing in Nupura Gangai at Azhakar Hill and did not pay heed to Durvasar Maharishi, who was passing by.
The enraged Durvasar cursed Suthapas that he would turn into a frog until he is redeemed of his curse by Lord Sundararajar, who is also known as Kallazhakar.
The Suthapas Maharishi, who is named as ‘Mandooga maharisi’ munivar because of his frog status, performed ‘thapas’ (prayer) on the banks of river Vaigai, which is otherwise known as Vegavathi, at Thenur. The Lord Kallazhakar comes from his abode in Azhakar Hill to redeem Mandooga Maharishi of his curse, when he is praying.
Since days unknown, it is believed that the lord Kallazhakar comes to Thenur via Malaipatti, Alanganallur and Vayalur. In Thenur Mandap, the lord redeems the sage of his curse and leaves for his abode.
“During Thirumalai Nayak regime (1623 to 1659 AD), in 1653 the Mandooga Maharishi relieving ritual was shifted to Vandiyur village where the event is performed at Thennur Mandapam, built by Thirumalai Nayak himself,”

The shift[edit]

The trustee says that the Nayak king, a Vaishnavite and dedicated devotee of Goddess Meenakshi, wanted to merge the brahmotsavams of Meenakshi and Kallazhakar Temples mainly aiming at fostering communal amity between Saivites and Vaishnavites.
The Thenur villagers readily accepted the shift to Vandiyur. The happy king offered the villagers lands and ensured that they were transported to Madurai and meted out their expenses through the royal exchequer.
Following which, the king constructed a ship-shaped mandapam called ‘Thenur Mandapam’ on the river Vaigai at Vandiyur, where Mandooga episode is revoked every year during the Chithirai festival even today.
“The 24-pillared stone structure is the only testimony to Azhakar’s visit to Thenur, the ritual and the shift of the ritual,” Mr. Neduchezia Pandian notes.
The undated original mandapam at Thenur was renovated as stone structure by R. Periya Naicken Servai few decades ago. Again, in 2007, the mandapam was transformed into a temple named ‘Arulmigu Sri Sundararaja Perumal (Kallazhakar) Temple.’ The newly constructed temple has Lord Vinayaga at the entrance while Lord Sundararaja Perumal (Kallazhakar) stands with his consorts – Sri Devi and Boo Devi. Lord Karudalwar stands at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum facing the deities. At a cost of Rs.300,000, the devotees have bought various ‘vahanas’ (vehicles) to carry deities during the festival.

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