Neelamegha Perumal Temple, Thirukannapuram – Festivals & Religious Practices
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis based on Vaiksana Agama. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamilnadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day: Ushathkalam at 7 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual has three steps: Alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Neelamegha Perumal and Tirukannapura Nayagi.
During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple. The major festival, the twelve-day Brahmotsavam is celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (April - May). Masi Mahotsavam is another ten-day festival during the Tamil month of Masi (February - March).
During these festivals the legend of marriage of Padmasini with Sowrirarjan is enacted. During the festival, sacred water used during the ablution of the festive deities is distributed to devotees. There are religious discourses, musical performances and floats organized during the festival. The festival concludes with Theerthavari in Nitya Pushkarini.
10 day, day festival (Pagal Pathu in Tamil) begins on the second day of Amavasya-new moon day in Margazhi covering December-January with Lord’s procession. The night festival in the same month (Rappathu in Tamil) begins with Vaikunda Ekadasi day. As the temple is praised as Vaikunda on Earth –Bhooloka Vaikundam, as established in the words of Saint Nammazhwar, there is no special Sorgavasal as traditionally seen in Perumal Temples.
First day of all Tamil months; Ekadasi the 11th day of new moon or full moon days; Chitra Poornima in April-May; Thiruvaadipooram in July-August; Navarathri in September-October; Tirukarthikai in November-December; Panguni Uthiram in March-April; Deepavali, Makara Sankaranthi; Tamil and English New Year days are also observed as festival days in the temple with special pujas to Lord. Once a year, on the occasion of Maasi Magam, the Lord is taken on a procession to the sea shore near Karaikal, about 20 kms from here.