Uppiliappan Temple, Thirunageshwaram – Festivals & Religious Practises
The temple follows Vaigasana Agama and follows Vadagalai practises. During the Viswaroopa Seva, the first worship, Suprapada Prabarthi Mangalam, a verse exclusively dedicated to Uppiliappan is relayed. Tiruvempaavai is relayed after it, followed by naivedhana in all shrines. Uchikalam is the last worship during the day time and happens at noon. During the evening, mutharkalam is the first worship sequence, recitals in Veda and Nithsuasandamam. Arthajamam is the last puja of the day.
The chariot festival is the most prominent festival of the temple, celebrated for nine days during the Tamil month of Panguni (March–April) and devotees from various places pull the chariot round the streets of temple. Verses from the Nalayira Divya Prabandham are recited by a group of temple priests amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument). The processional idols of Uppiliappan and Bhoomidevi are brought to the temple car early in the morning amidst Vedic chantings. Subsequently, the festive idols are taken to the ther thatti mandapam (chariot launching hall). Theratharohanam, the rituals associated with taking the idols to the temple car is performed in an auspicious time before starting the procession.
Brahmotsavam is grandly celebrated in the temples in the months of Purattasi (September-October), Aipasi (October-November) and Panguni (March-April). The other festivals are explained below;
Vasanta Utsavam or the spring festival for 6 days at the Nandavanam (garden), culminating on Shravanam day.
Avani (Aug - Sep):
Pavitrotsavam (purifying festival) will be conducted for 5 days ending on Shravanam day during Avani (Aug – Sep). Early morning garuda Seva of the Lord will be conducted.
Purattasi (Sept - Oct):
Brahmotsavam will be conducted for nine days of Purattasi (Sept – Oct). Little Chariot (Goratham) procession will be conducted on the last day of Shravanam.
Kalyana Utsavam (holy marriage of god and goddess) for 12 days commencing from Shravanam during Aippasi (Oct–Nov) will be conducted. The lord appeared in this place in Panguni Shravanam and married Bhoomi Devi in Aippasi Shravanam and every year; these are celebrated as grand festivals.
Adhyayana Utsavam (ten day and ten night festival) will be conducted during Margazhi (Dec–Jan) Day Utsavam will be conducted for 10 days. Night Utsavam will be conducted for 10 days. Additional 2 days utsavam will be conducted. Totally it is 22 day festival.
Thai (Jan - Feb):
Float festival for 5 days culminating on Shravanam will be conducted.
Brahmotsavam for 9 days with big chariot festival will be conducted on the 9th-Day of Shravanam. Lord Narayana readily granted the boons. The lord appeared in this place in Panguni Shravanam and married Bhoomi Devi in Aippasi Shravanam and every year; these are celebrated as grand festivals.
Rama Navami, the festival associated with Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. The event is celebrated for ten days in the months of April/May with music and dance performance and on the concluding day, kanakabhishekam (ablution with gold for the festival image) and Rama Pattabishekam are conducted on a grand and majestic scale, attended by thousands of devotees.
Sravana Deepam & Sravana Vratham:
Sravana Deepam is a festival celebrated every month in the temple on the day of Tamil star of Thiruvonam and devotees observe fast called Sravana Vratham that day by consuming only unsalted food. Tonsure ceremony for getting children shaved for the first time to promote proper growth and ear piercing is a very common practise followed in the temple.
Every month, Shravanam day is celebrated in a grand manner in this temple, when thousands of devotees congregate and worship the Lord. The Sravana Deepam function, which is held at about 11 a.m. on that day is a big event that attracts pilgrims from all over the country and abroad. Taking only salt less food on that day is regarded as Sravana Vratam.
Nammazhwar exclaims in his verse, singing the glory of this Lord that he has no equal and so, the deity here is called "Oppiliappan".
On the specific requests of the devotees, in fulfillment of their vow, Kalyana utsavam, Garuda Sevai, Golden chariot, Brahmotsavam, Dolothsavam, Nitya aradhana, mirror-room Seva and Durbar Seva are performed at the appropriate timings. Besides, Thirumanjanam (holy bathing) of the Moolavar deity, Utsavar deity, Rama etc., is also done on requests from devotees.