Friday, March 4, 2016

Podhu Aavudaiyar Temple, Parakkalakottai, Thanjavur

Podhu Aavudaiyar Temple, Parakkalakottai, Thanjavur
Podhu Aavudaiyar Temple or Madhyapureeswara Temple is a Hindu temple located at Parakkalakottai near Pattukkottai in the Thanjavur district of TamilnaduIndia. The temple is dedicated to Shiva.

Legends
According to Hindu legend, once two sages Vankobar and Mahakobar had a doubt – which is sacred, marital or ascetic life.  They went to Chidambaram and prayed to Lord Nataraja for enlightenment of the subject.  They were asked to come to this place where he would deliver his judgment.  They came here and sat under a tamarind tree.  After pujas were over in Chidambaram, Lord Shiva came here and stood under the banyan tree.  He gave the verdict that both paths of life are good if righteously followed.
Lord then merged in the tree.  As he was impartial (Podhu) to both sages, He was named Podhu Aavudaiyar and Madhyapureeswarar.
Temple Speciality
During Mondays in the month of Karthikai (November-December), devotees offer their yields from the lands – paddy, pulses including the husk with gold coins according to their status to the Lord. They offer even household articles, clothes etc. A huge Pandal (shamiana) is erected to gather the offerings.
On Mondays, the temple is opened only at midnight and closed during the day. There is no Ambica Shrine in the temple. Lord Shiva is in the form of Vellala tree. On Thai Pongal day alone, the temple is open from early morning till night for the whole day. Rays of Sun fall on Lord that day. 
Greatness of Temple
Lord Shiva blesses the devotees in the form of a tree.  He has a form (Rupam), He is formless (Aroopa) and form-formless (Linga).  There is no Linga form in the temple.  While opening the temple, a part of the tree is dressed with sandal, vastras as to a Shivalinga.  The shrine is covered with a white curtain showing only the Linga form.  The feet of the Lord are installed in front of tree where Lord granted darshan to sages.
The timing of the temple is strange.  On Mondays the temple is opened at 10.00 p.m. night. 
Pujas and other procedures are followed till 11.00 p.m.  Darshan is not allowed during this time.  It is again closed at 11.30 p.m. and reopened at 12.00 p.m. after pujas to Nandhi, Vinayaka, Peddha Perumal, Vankobar and Mahakobar for public darshan.  The temple is closed before dawn then.
On Makara Sankranti -Thai Pongal day alone, the temple is opened at early morning and kept open till 7.00 p.m.  The rays of Sun fall on the Lord that day. 
No other Shiva related festival such as Tirukarthikai, Shivrathri, and Annabishekam is celebrated in the temple. Lord Dakshinamurthi is the Lord of Jupiter planet gracing on the goshta walls of Shiva temples under a banyan tree. 
As Lord Shiva graces here in the form of a Tree itself, the temple assumes Guru-Jupiter importance. The leaves of Arasa Maram-Peepal tree is given as Prasad.  It is believed that these leaves, if preserved in houses will bring prosperity and ensure high farm yields if placed in fields. 
Devotees pray the very doors of the temple and the tree as Lord Shiva.  
Those facing delays in marriage and seeking child boon use to tie Mangalsutras and cradles in the tree. There is also a strange practice among the women of the place, offering Brooms (Vilakkumaru in Tamil) for hair growth.  They make the brooms from the coconut tree leaf stumps.  As these thin sticks are long, women believe that they will also have long hair. 
Successful devotees offer liberal contributions to the temple.  On Mondays in Karthikai-November-December, they offer all farm produce as paddy, pulses, household items, clothes, cosmetic items and gold coins and even the simplest husk. Large tents are built to receive the contributions. Brooms make mountains.
The Temple
There is no Vimana above the Lord as generally seen in temples.  As Lord Podhu Aavudaiyar is blessing the devotees in the form of a tree, its branches and leaves are praised as the Vimana.  In the sanctum sanctorum, Mother Gajalakshmi has a place in front of the Lord with two elephants on either side.  Pujas are performed to both simultaneously. 
As Lord Shiva is the principal deity, there are no shrines for Ambica, Lingodhbava, Muruga, Brahmma, Durga, Chandikeswara, Bhairava and other deities.  There are shrines for Lord Veera Sakthi Vinayaka, Peddha Perumal (guardian deity) only outside the temple.  Lord Vinayaka is facing west. 
Deities Vankobar in fine attire and Mahakobar as an ascetic are under a tamarind tree in idol form. After the midnight puja on Mondays and opening of the temple for public darshan, the first honour (Mudal Mariyadhai) goes to the eldest person of the place with Shiva puja Prasad.  The temple takes Re. 1/= from the person. Then the abishek chandan with betel nuts are given to all devotees by an employee of the temple.  Annadhanam will be fed to everyone till dawn.
Shrines
There are shrines to Shiva, Ganapathi, Vankobar and Mahakobar.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is opened from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Festivals
Karthikai Somavarams (Mondays in November-December) and Makara Sankranti – Thai Pongal falling almost on January 14 or a day earlier or after in some years are the festivals celebrated in the temple.
Prayers
Devotees pray here for various wishes in their mind. People offer things they wished to the temple.
Contact
Sri Podhu Aavudaiyar Temple,
Parakkalakottai, Thanjavur district
Phone: +91- 4373 - 283 295, 248 781.
Connectivity
The devotee has to reach Pattukkottai (50 km) from Thanjavur and proceed 12 km further from there to reach the temple. 
Nearest Railway Station is located at Pattukkottai & Nearest Airport is located at Trichy.

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