Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sri Karapuranathar Temple, Uthamacholapuram, Salem

Sri Karapuranathar Temple, Uthamacholapuram, Salem
Sri Karapuranathar Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Uthamacholapuram in Salem District of Tamilnadu. There are a number of special temples for marriage prayers such as Thirumananjeri, Thiruvidanthai and Mudichur. But this temple in Salem District also famous for marriage is unique because here the prayers are placed before the Tamil poet Avvaiyaar.

Just a km from Ariyanoor is the famous historic Siva temple at Uthama Cholapuram. Here, the lord assumes the name of Karabureswarar and is said to have emerged Suyambu. The temple is said to be over 1200 years old.

It is believed that the famous Tamil poet Avvaiyar is said to have presided over the marriage of Angavai and Sangavai, the two daughters of King Pari, extensively covered in Tamil history. In fact, there is a life-size statue of Avvaiyar placed at the entrance of the temple.

There are Epigraphical evidences about the presence of the three kings in this temple visiting for worship. The place where Chola stayed is called Uthamacholapuram, as that of Pandya as Veerapandi and Chera’s as Servarayanmalai. The linga is in a slanting position on one side.

Legends
Ravana Brothers Khara & Dushana penance on Lord Shiva:
It is believed that Khara and Dushana, the brothers of Ravana performed penance here to get a vision of Lord Shiva. After many years when the lord did not appear, the brothers decided there was no point in living further and decided to burn themselves to death. As they lit the fire and were about to jump into it, Lord Shiva appeared before them. Kara worshipped him with joy and built a temple around the Swayambu Moorthy and the place came to be known as Karapuram and the lord Karapuranathar.

Story behind Lingam’s Slanting Position:
A little boy called Gunaseelan once wanted to worship the Lord but the Lingam was too tall for him. After several attempts to garland the Lord, the boy was disheartened and started to weep loudly. Just at that moment a miracle happened. The Lord lowered his head to one side to allow the little boy to garland him. The boy was overjoyed and completed his worship with satisfaction. Even today, the Lord is found with his head tilted to one side and hence is also called "Mudisaithanathar".

Marriage of Angavai & Sangavai:
Vel Paari, one of the "Seven greatest bestowers" of the last Sangam Era had two daughters Angavai and Sangavai. The Chera, Chola and Pandya kings in their desire to expand their territory lay siege on the territories of King Paari. After a long drawn war, Paari was killed treacherously. His death left the two girls orphaned and Poet Kabilar, a bosom friend of the King took them under his care. He approached several Velir kings to accept the girls as brides for their sons, but they refused, fearing the wrath of the Moovendar (Chera, Chola & Pandya).
Kabilar handed over the girls to a Brahmin in Thirukkoilur and fasted to death. The place where he fasted to death is called Kabilar Kundru and can be seen till date in Thirukkoilur. The Brahmin thought the only person who could solve this problem and get the girls married was Poet Avvaiyaar and brought the girls to her.

Avvaiyaar approached Deiveegan and Yenadhi Kannan, the sons of Malayaman Thirumudi Kaari to marry Angavai and Sangavai. The young princes agreed to marry the girls provided the Moovendhars did not have an objection. Avvaiyaar came to Karapuram and worshipped Lord Ganesha and asked him to assist in convincing the Moovendhars. Lord Ganesha, found in the name of "Vinai Theertha Vinayagar” in this temple wrote the marriage invitation on a palm leaf and invited the kings.
The Moovendhars promised to provide consent if Avvaiyaar was able to make fresh leaves sprout from a dried palm tree at the temple. Avvaiyaar sang hymns in praise of Lord Karapuranathar and with his grace; the tree bore not just new leaves but also fruits.

The Moovendars happily consented to the wedding and Kanjamalai Karadi Siddhar who worshipped Karapuranathar in the form of a bear was the witness to this agreement. The Jeeva Samadhi of Karadi Siddhar is found in this temple.
Marriage Prayer at the temple:
Boys and Girls seeking good marriage alliance come to this temple with three garlands - One for Lord Karapuranathar, One for Goddess Periyanayagi and the third for Avvaiyaar, preferably on the date their birth star occurs during the month. After performing archana to the God and Goddess, the garland that adorned the Lord in case of a girl and the Goddess in case of a boy is given to them.
They wear the garland and go around the temple carrying coconut, flowers and a garland for Avvaiyaar. They garland Avvaiyaar, break the coconut and make sincere prayers for an early marriage. Soon the alliance is fixed, and they come back to offer new saree and the first invitation to Avvaiyaar.

Several marriages thus fixed also take place in this temple. Many love marriages happen here, as this is the temple where Angavai and Sangavai had overcome several obstacles to find a good groom. The temple actually has a notice board which gives the list of documents that are required to register a marriage.
The Temple
The Shivalinga in the temple is slightly slanting. The construction of the Main Tower (Rajagopuram) was taken up during the Chola period but was not completed. The Government of Tamilnadu took up the construction, completed it and performed the consecration on 9th February, 1992.

The consecration of the temple was conducted 73 years ago. A wooden car (rath) was made; a trial run was taken with a festival on Chitra Poornima day. Since then festivals are conducted with Chandi Homam, Pradosha pujas all the 12 months of the year.

The statues of the three Tamil Kings – Chera, Chola and Pandya are placed in the entrance of the temple. There is also a statue for the great Tamil Poetess Avvaiyar which is the biggest in Tamilnadu. The antiquity and historical importance of the temple add to its glory.

Avvaiyar brought Angavai and Sangavai, daughters of Pari to this temple to ward off the enmity of the three kings against Pari and performed of their marriage very peacefully. Hence, the kings are also installed in the temple with the symbols of their flags – the bow, the tiger and the fish.

The Pandya king picked pearls from the Tirumanimuthar River flowing near the Karapuranathar temple and made a chain for Madurai Meenakshi which still shines on her divine neck.

One of the 64 divine acts (Thiruvilayadal) of Lord Shiva was carrying mud on behalf of an old lady called Vanthi who offered him Puttu (a sweet rice dish) in return. There is an idol of Vanthi in the Artha Mandapam at the temple.

Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Festivals
The temple is noted for festivals in all the 12 months of the year, Sukra (Venus) worship, Pradosham and Chandi Homam.
Avani Moolam Festival:
One of the 64 divine acts (Thiruvilayadal) of Lord Shiva was carrying mud on behalf of an old lady called Vanthi who offered him Puttu (a sweet rice dish) in return. This Avani Moolam festival is enacted on the banks of Manimutharu River every year.
Literary Mention
The place is known as Karapura in Dredhayuga and Cholapuri in Kaliyuga according to Uthamacholapuram Karapuranathar Puranam. There is no information about the author of this text.
According to this book, the devotee could gain all the benefits in this birth and attain Moksha (salvation) with his worship in this temple alone without going to other temples, as Sun, Moon and the celestial beings surrender at the feet of Karapuranathar.
The name of Karapuranathar finds mention in the hymns of Tirugnanasambandar, Tirumoolar and Arunagirinathar.
Prayers
Devotees seek child boon, removal of obstacle in marriage alliances, progress in education and protection from enemies. Devotees offer abishek and offer vastras to God and Goddess.
Contact
Sri Karapuranathar Temple,
Uthamacholapuram, Salem District
Mobile:  97887 18970
Connectivity
Uthamacholapuram is 5 km from Salem where Karapuranathar temple exists. The temple is on the Salem - Sangagiri Main Road near Ariyanoor. Nearest Railway Station is located at Salem & Nearest Airport is located at Trichy & Coimbatore.

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