Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, (Sekkizhar Temple), Devakottai, Sivaganga

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, (Sekkizhar Temple), Devakottai, Sivaganga
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple (also called as Sekkizhar Temple) is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva located at Devakottai in Sivaganga District of Tamilnadu. The main God of this temple is Lord Shiva known as Sri Sundareswarar and Goddess as Sri Meenakshi. There is a saying that Lord Shiva appeared in this place on Golden horse to bless the devotees.

It is also called as Nagarathar Shiva Temple. Nagara Sivan Kovil is regarded as one of the most beautiful temples of Devakottai. The temple was built by the Nattukkottai Nagarathars of the Chettiars of Devakottai town. Hence, the temple has been built in the typical Chettiar style of architecture. The temple belongs to 40 sections of Nattukkottai Nagarathars.

History
Periyapuranam, celebrated epic on the lives of Shiva devotees is venerated as the Bible of Saivism authored by the inspired poet Sekkizhar.  A Tamil scholar Vanthondar wanted to build a temple for Sekkizhar. The basic philosophy of Shiva worship is service to Shiva devotees.  Vanthondar, a Shiva devotee wanted to construct a temple to another Shiva devotee Sekkizhar.  

But due to circumstances, it became a Shiva temple. Yet Sekkizhar is made the procession deity of the temple.   Also there is a big temple bell in which it is inscribed “Sekkizhar Koil Mani – Sekkizhar temple bell”. A separate shrine was also built for Sekkizhar.

The Temple
Mother Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswara are depicted separately in the two Rajagopurams (main towers) in the temples.  There are shrines for Nardana Vinayaka, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodhbava, Somaskandar, Maragatha Vinayaka, Viswanatha Visalakshi, Vishnu, Baladhandayuthapani, Subramanyar, Mahalakshmi, Brahmma, Durga, Chandeswara, Chandeswari, Nataraja, Navagrahas (9 planets) and Kannimoolai Vinayaka.

Though a Shiva temple, considering the importance to Sekkizhar, the author of the Epic Periyapuranam telling the stories of Shiva devotees venerated as Nayanmars, the temple is called “Sekkizhar Temple”. The five tiers Rajagopuram is located in front with Balipeedam, Dwajasthambam and Nandhi.
In the inner prakaram Sannadhi for 63 Nayanmar, Somaskandar, Maragatha Vinayagar, Sri Viswanathan & Visalakshi, Balathandayuthapani, Valli Devasena Subramaniyar, Gajalakshmi, Natarajar Saba, Bairavar, Chandran and Saneeswarar are located.

In koshtam Vinayagar, Dhakshinamurthy, Brahma and Durgai are located. Sanctum is built like mada koil with steps to climb. Ambal is in a separate temple with Rajagopuram, Balipeedam, Nandhi and Dwajasthambam. In the prakaram, Sannadhi for Palliyarai, Navagrahas are located. In koshtam, Icha, Gana and Kiriya Sakthi moorthams are located.  

There is a mandapam between Ambal and Shiva’s Sannadhi to conduct important functions. On the koshtam the sculptures instead of Yazhi are worth to watch.
Both temple are facing east with Rajagopuram. In between Rajagopurams, sudhai Sirpam of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam are located on the top of the wall.

Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Festivals
Sekkizhar Guru Pooja with abishek and aaradhanas are devotionally celebrated on Vaikasi Poora star day (May-June) when the Guru is taken in procession on a silver elephant. 10 day Chithirai festival in April-May is celebrated in which Mother Parvathi feeds sage Tirugnanasambandar. This is a very important event during this festival.
The Nagarathars from all over the world gather at the temple to celebrate the Navarathri Festival during the month of October each year. After the festival of Diwali, another festival, the Skandhar Sashti Vizha is celebrated for 7 days. The festival is meant for the followers of Lord Murugan. The festival is celebrated with lots of pomp and show.
Another very important feature of the temple is the Vaara Vazhipadu or the weekly prayer that is being done religiously for the past 60 years now.
Prayers
People pray for removal of obstacles in marriage talks and for child boon. Devotees perform abishek, archanas and offer vastras to Lord and Mother.
Connectivity
Devakottai is located at a distance of 16 kms from Karaikudi. Devakottai is about 20 Kms from Karaikudi. The temple is about 1.5 Kms from Bus stand and autos are available from bus stand. The devotee can reach the temple in ten minutes walking from the bus stop. Devakottai is situated on Tiruchirappalli – Rameswaram National Highway Road (NH-210).
The nearest airport is in Madurai, about 92 km away. The nearest railway station is 'Devakottai Road' which comes under the city limit of Karaikudi, about 10 km from Devakottai, from where frequent bus services are available for Devakottai. Regular bus services are available to all important cities of Tamil Nadu.

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