Agnipureeswarar Temple, Thirupugalur – Religious Importance & Festivals
Appar, a 7th-century Tamil Saivite poet, venerated Agnipureeswarar in ten verses in Tevaram, compiled as the Third Thirumurai. As the temple is revered in Tevaram, it is classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam, one of the 276 temples that find mention in the Saiva canon. Sambandar, a contemporary of Sundarar has glorified Agnipureeswarar in ten verses and it is counted as one of the 276 temples. The temple is believed to be the place where Appar spent his last days before proceeding to Kailasam. The event of Appar reaching Kailasam is celebrated in the temple annually.
The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. The temple rituals are performed three times a day; Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 a.m. and Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: Abhishekam (sacred bath), Alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for Agnipureeswarar and Gnanambikai.
Unlike other Shiva temples, anointing with oil is not performed in the temple. There are weekly rituals like Somavaram (Monday) and sukravaram (Friday), fortnightly rituals like Pradosham, and monthly festivals like Amavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi. Brahmotsavam during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May - June) is the most important festivals of the temple.
10 day Vaikasi Poornima-Brahmotsavam in May-June with a special programme showing Lord Chandrasekhara granting darshan to Agni Bhagwan – God of Fire according to the history of the land (sthala Purana), 10 day festival for Saivite saint Tirunavukkarasar in April-May commencing before Sadayam star day and monthly Pradosha days (13th day from New Moon or Full Moon days), Deepavali in October-November, Pongal almost falling on 14th January each year and Tamil and English New Year days are celebrated in the temples besides special puja performance days each month. The crowd is huge in the temple on such festival occasions.
Appar festival begins 10 days before Chithirai Sadayam Star day in April-May. The events includes his home coming from the Jains, the greatness of his Uzhavaram, dance of Deva women and his merging with Lord at the midnight of the fourth day festival. Every devotee would be moved to see this episode only with tears in his/her eyes.