Thaipusam – Festival for Lord Muruga
Once I had an opportunity to visit Malaysia during the Thaipusam day, the ardent devotion and worship showed not only the Tamil speaking Malaysians also the Chinese inspired me lot, which made me to think and write this blog for Heritage treasures.
In Thaipusam is celebrated in the month of Thai (January /February) on the Purnaima ( full moon day) where the star Pusam (Pushya) falls. Lord Muruga is worshiped on this occasion with Kavadi. It is very famous festival among the Hindus particularly the Tamil Community all over the world. Thaipusam is colourfully celebrated in the countries such as Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Thaispusam is observed to venerate the occasion of receiving Sakthi weapon (Spear) by Lord Muruga from His divine mother Parvathi at the time of His march to defeat the demon king Surapadman.
Tamil Literary references on Thaipusam
There are number of references in the Tamil Literatures about the celebration of bathing during the month of Thai. It was mentioned as Thainiradal in the Sangam works Ainkurunuru, Nattirnai and Paripadal. There is a story connected with Mylapore and Tirunasambandar. When he evoked Pumpavai from her ashes at Mylapore (near Chennai) in his poem he asks the girl Pumpavai whether she was not willing to witness the festival of Thaipusam which celebrated in grand manner at Mylapore. He also recalls that she had missed to see the celebration of Thaipusam which was celebrated by the ladies who used to apply ghee to their hair for their beauty.
Inscriptions on Thaipusam celebrations
There are number of inscriptional references about the celebration of Thaipusam. Two epigraphs from Tiruvidaimarudur temple belongs to Paranthaka Chola king (907- 950 CE) speaks about the gift of 91 goats for lighting lamp and lands for providing food (amudu) and flower garden for offering to the god at the time of float festival. The interesting news from the inscriptions is about the performance of dance drama (Kuthu) at the time of Thaipusam celebration and gift of one veli of land at a place called Vilakkudi. From this we can infer that Thaipusam festival was celebrated with dance drama and enjoyed by the people of Tiruvidaimarudur.
Another inscription from Tirumazhapadi mentions that at the time of Thaipusam festival the lord of Tirumazhapadi was taken in procession and used to take bath in the river Cauvery. For this purpose a Tirumandapa or resting place was constructed and a flower garden (known as Tirukkavanam in the inscription) was also setup. Donation of land was also made for decorating the idol of the god, for food offerings with side dish (kari venjanam as mentioned in the inscription). Even today also God of Tirumazhapadi was taken in procession to the bed of river Cauvery but presently there are no mandapa or flower garden as mentioned in the inscription.
Celebration at Chidambaram temple:
At Chidambaram Lord Shiva displayed His dance of bliss the (Ananda Tandava) , as Nataraja to the Sainst Vyagrhapada and Patanjali on the day of the Pusam star in the Tamil month of Thai.
Aruperumjothi darshan at Vadalur, Cudalore district in Tamil Nadu
The saint Vallalar Ramalinga Adigalar (1823-1874 CE) who preached non- violence and eating non-vegetarian food established a matta at Vadalur in the year 1872 CE, kept 7 screens and camphor lighted lamp every Thaippusam day at 6 am, 10 am, 1, pm 7 pm 10 pm and the next day morning 5.30.am. As a commemoration of this occasion every year at the Thaipusam day this Jothi darshan is observed at Vadalur with great devotion.
Palani temple and the inscriptions
Palani is the third among the six ancient abode of Lord Muruga (Aruppadaivedu) in the Tamil country. It was also mentioned asTiruavinandkudi in the Tamil literatures.
In the ancient period the Palani hill was known as Pothini; ruled by the chieftain Pegan, who was popular for his philanthropy and patronage to the Tamil poets of Sangam period. He offered his shawl to the Peacock which was dancing with joy in the rain; thinking that it was shivering in the rain. Hence, he was known as Kadaiyelu vallal.
The present temple architecture of the Palani temple resembles that of the Later Pandya kings of 13th centuary CE.
There are four inscriptions notice from this temple An inscription of Jatavarma Virapandya ( 1253-83 CE) mentions that the Ur (today’s city or town) representatives from a place called Ayakkudi gave a gift of a land in the (1275CE) regnal year of the king.
An epigraph belongs to the Vijayanagara dynasty speaks about the gift of a village called as Vaigavur which was located in theRavimangalam near Palani. This gift was made during the reign of the Vijayanagara king Mallikarjuna (1446 CE) by his representativeAnnamaraya udayar. The inscription speaks that the gift was made for the worship of Ilayanayannar of Palani temple. The offering of food, lighting nanda lamp, donation for flower garland and for tirumanjanam i.e., bathing were made for three time worship in a day. It shows that Ilaya nayanar was the name given to Lord Muruga who is the younger son of lord Shiva. The inscription of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara dynasty in the year 1520 CE made donations through his Magamandri, chiefminister Kondamarayar. This gift was made for the offering at the time of Lunar Eclipse, and festival for the god known as Velayuthasamikku. Lord Muruga of Palani was known as Velayutham at the time of the Vijayanagara rulers. Kalayampattur a village near Palani was donated to the Palani Ilayanayanar temple for food offering.