Vanamamalai Perumal Temple, Nanguneri – Festivals & Religious Practices
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis based on Vaikasana Agama. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavite 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: Alankaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and Deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Vanamamalai Perumal and Thayar.
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. Chithirai Brahmmotsavam in April-May and the second in Panguni (March-April) are the two festivals of importance in the temples besides festivals related to Lord Vishnu.
Vishnu is considered as Alankara piriyar (one who prefers decoration), and Shiva as abisheka priyar (one who prefers ablution). Vanamamalai temple is one of the few Vishnu temples where ablution is done for the presiding deity on a daily basis. At around 7 am every day, ablution is performed on the presiding deity with milk, curd and other pooja items. The ghee used for ablution is poured in the oil well in the temple, which is considered sacred. During the festival occasions, the festival idols are brought to the Vanamamalai Mutt located outside the premises of the temple. This temple is administered by the Vanamamalai Jeeyar Mutt.