Thiruchendur Murugan Temple - Legends
Slaying of Surapadma:
An Asura by name Surapadma was ruling Veera Mahandrapuri, an island fortress, as his Capital. He performed many austerities invoking Lord Siva and Lord Siva granted him many boons. Later he became arrogant and captured three worlds and made the Heavenly immortals to do menial task. Devas were unable to bear his torture and complained to Lord Siva. Lord Siva opened His frontal eye to create a son to kill the asuras. Six sparks of fire where issued from the frontal eye of Lord Siva. The divine sparks of grace were received by river Ganges through Agni, the God of Fire and passed on to the Himalayan lake Saravana Poigai. Here they were transformed into six babies.
These babies were suckled by the six Krithika nymphs. Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi Devi came to Saravana Poigai. When the Goddess Uma fondly clasped the babies, they became Lord Arumuga with six faces and twelve arms. When the child Arumuga had grown into a youth God, Lord Siva asked Him to destroy asuras and free Devas from their cruel bondage. Lord Muruga reached Thiruchendur with his huge army and encamped. He sent his lieutenant Veerabahu to the asuras as an emissary and asked Surapadma to release the Devas. Since Surapadma turned down the request, war was started.
The intense battle continued for few days. During the first five days of the War the brothers of Surapadma and all other asuras perished. On sixth day in the battle between Lord Muruga and Surapadma, the lance of Lord Muruga pierced Surapadma (who got himself transformed as a frightful mango tree) and broke it in twain. The broken pieces instantly transformed themselves into a mighty Peacock and a Chanticleer. Lord Muruga took Peacock as his vahana (Vehicle) and Chanticleer on his banner.
After Surasamharam (Destruction of Surapadman) Lord Muruga desired to worship his father Lord Siva. Hence Mayan, the divine architect constructed this shrine at Thiruchendur. Even now Lord Subrahmaniyam is seen in the posture of worshiping Lord Siva in the Sanctum sanctorum.
As detailed in Skanda Purana, one of the eighteen Hindu Puranas, while the deities hailed the glory of Kartikeya for having killed Tarakasuran, Kartikeya himself was saddened by his act. He told the deities--'I regret for having killed Tarakasuran because he was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Is there any way to atone for my sin?'Lord Vishnu consoled him-'Killing a wicked person, who nourishes himself on the blood of innocent people, is not a sinful deed. But, still, if you feel guilty then there is no better way to atone for your sin than worshipping Lord Shiva. Install Shivalingas and worship them with deep devotion.'
Kartikeya instructed Vishwakarma to make three divine Shivalingas. Later on Kartikeya installed these Shivalingas at three different places and worshipped them with appropriate rituals. In course of time these three holy places came to be known as Pratigyeshwar, Kapaleshwar and Kumareshwar. Kartikeya, while worshipping at Kapaleshwar sprinkled holy water on the Shivalinga and prayed so that Tarakasur's soul rested in peace. He also offered sesame seeds to Lord Kapaleshwar and prayed --'May my offerings made in the form of sesame seeds reach Tarak—the descendant of Sage Kashyapa.' This way, Kartikeya was absolved of his sins.
Ayya Vaikundar Miracles:
Near the temple is also a holy temple dedicated to Ayya Vaikundar considered being an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The followers of Ayya Vaikundar is called Ayyavazhi sect of the Vaishnavite, and his teachings are contained in Akilathirattu, a holy book. Ayya Vaikundar was the architect of "Samabandhi Bhojan" meaning feeding of poor and downtrodden among the backward communities and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who were considered to be untouchable by the rulers of the erstwhile Travancore (now Kerala State) together under one roof. This was not liked by the rulers and they gave him many physical and mental troubles including putting him in the company of a hungry tiger in a lock up. But they were perplexed by his mystic acts and released him unconditionally.
Kattabomman realizing his mistake:
There are other legends associated with this temple. Veerapandiya Kattabomman the last Tamil King who resisted the British East India Company from taking over Tamilnadu was an ardent devotee of the Lord of Thiruchendur. He built a special 'mandapam' and decreed that when the deity is taken in procession, it should be brought to this 'mandapam' and 'archchanai' (worship) should be performed.
During the next festival as the deity neared its usual resting place, the sky opened up with pouring rain, thunder and lightning. The devotees carrying the deity could not proceed further and took the processional deity to its usual halting place. Kattabomman realised his mistake and decreed the usual practice to continue.
During the 17th century AD some Dutch mercenaries robbed the temple and mistook the statue to be made of gold and took it to their ship. Soon after the ship set sail the sea became rough and massive waves hit the ship while rain with thunder and lightning lashed the ship. Frightened by this they threw the statue into the sea to evade the wrath of the Gods. The rain and thunder stopped and the sea became calmer and they sailed away.
Lord Murugan appeared in the dream of one of the devotees and indicated that the statue would be found in the bottom of the sea where a lime fruit was floating and a 'Garuda' (eagle) would be circling above. This devotee with few others went in search and spotted the area with the clues from his dream. A diver went down and found the statue which was then installed in the temple.
Sweating of Lord Muruga:
In 1803 AD a British collector seeing the statue being fanned in devotion ridiculed this action and asked whether the Lord also sweat. In response the priest covered the statue with a white cloth which immediately became wet. The collector realizing his fault gave a silver pot as atonement and an offering.
Miracle of Viboothi being converted to Cash:
It is believed that the present temple was built about 300 years ago by Thesigamoorthy Swamigal belonging to the Tiruvaduthurai Adheenam. He did not have enough money to build the temple. So he paid his workers daily with a packet of 'Viboothi (holy ash) as their wages. When the workers went home and opened the package they found the wages in cash according to the task they performed.