Soundararajaperumal Temple, Nagapattinam – Festivals & Religious Practices
The temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite tradition and follows Vaikhanasa Aagama. The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. 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 Soundararajan and Soundaravalli. During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (a pipe instrument) and tavil (a 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.
During the Tamil month of Chittirai, the festival deity is taken in procession around the Mada Street of the temple. Similar processions are followed during the Maga star of Chittirai and Magam; the five-day festival of Nammazhwar during the Tamil month of Aani. The ten day yearly festival of Soundaravalli Thayar is celebrated during the same month, when a flag is hoisted and the festive image of Thayar is taken in different chariots around the streets of the temple. During the star of Uthiram, Perumal arrives at the shrine of Thayar and the celestial wedding is celebrated.
During the Tamil month of Aadi, to commemorate the summer solstice, a ten day festival is celebrated in the temple, when the festival image of Perumal is taken around the streets of the temple. The other festivals associated with Vishnu temples like Krishna Jayanthi, Saturdays of Tamil month Puratasi, Navarathri, Vaikunta Ekadasi & Vijayadasami are celebrated during the respective days.
A ten-day festival is celebrated, during the Tamil month of Purattasi, commemorating Manavala Maamunigal. Uthirayana Punyakalam during the Tamil month of Thai followed by Mattaiadi, Masi Kadalauttu during Maasi, and Panguni Peruvizha during Panguni and Thiruvasagai Vizha are other prominent festivals in the temple. Music instruments like Suthamathalam, Ekkalam, Thiruchinnam and Thalam are used during such festivals. During Thiruvasi festival, the temple chariot is drawn around the streets of the temple.