Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sankarankovil - Famous Aadi Thapasu Festival

Sankarankovil, as the name suggests hosts the very famous ancient temple for Lord Siva.
It is a small town near Tirunelveli. A temple which proves the fact that God is one, be it Siva or Rama. Around 10th century, a sivalingam was unearthed in a sand dune ( Putthu ), and a temple was constructed for the same by then ruler Ukkrapandian. This sand, which still exists as Putthu mannu, has healing properties, and all devotees collect a small amount and keep in their homes.

The presiding deities are Lord Siva, Lord Sankaranarayana ( form of half Siva and half Vishnu ), and the beautiful Gomathi Amman, which is indeed the pride of this place. The famous festival, during the month of Aadi – called Aadi Thapasu, is celebrated gloriously for 10 days. It is believed that Goddess Gomathi does penance in the Thapasu Mandapa, and Lord Siva appears himself and takes her. But he appears in the form of Lord Sankaranarayana, and so the goddess refuses and goes back to Thapasu Mandapa. Then he re-appears as Lord Sankaralingam in the middle of night ( the second festival on the Thapasu day, around mid-night ) and takes his consort. Both of them blesses their devotees, who celebrate this festival as a grandeur.

This temple is very famous among Saivites ( people who worship Lord Siva ) and Vaishnavites
( people who worship Lord Vishnu ), as the Lord presents himself as Sankaranarayana, proving the oneness. As the famous saying of Saint Sankaracharya goes – Hariyum Sivanum Onnu, Ariyathavan Vayil Mannu  ( Hari and Haran is one and the same )
This temple is located about 14 Km from Puliangudi and is accessible by government buses. Tourist cars and vans can also be arranged from Puliangudi.
  • MainDeity : Sankaralingeswarar,Sankara Narayanar
  • Goddesses : Gomathi Amman
  • Theertham : Nagasnai
  • Holytree : Punnai
This temple is also considered to be representing one of the five elements (Nilam/Land/Prthivi) in this area, the other being Nallur (Agni) ,Tharukapuram (Neer/Water/Jal) ,Thenmalai (Vayu) and Devathaanam (Agayam/Sky/Akash) .It was built by Ukira Pandiyan BC 900.
The Annadhanam scheme is being conducted in the temple when daily noon meals are being provided for around 100 devotees. It is believed that all devotees who pray to the goddess Gomathi amman have always found solace.

Key festivals
  • Chithhirai Bramotsava ( 10 days ) Every April
  • Adi thapasu festival ( 12 days ) August
  • Iyppasi Thirukkalyanam festival ( 10 days ) October
  • Theppam floating festival - Thai last Friday ( Every February )

It is a must see temple for all devotees of Lord Siva and Vishnu, especially during the Aadi Thapasu festival. Thousands throng every year to get a glimpse of the Lord, and worship them. Inspite of the massive crowd, people don’t fail to celebrate every year with the same grandeur. It is a beautiful sight to see Goddess dressed in penance waiting for her Lord, and Sankaranarayana appearing during the first phase of festival in the evening, and then dressed as Lord Siva around midnight. It is a fact that people will be blessed and will achieve great heights in all spectrums of life, with the blessings of lord Sankaranarayanar and Goddess Gomathi Amman. 

- Abirami

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