Monday, November 20, 2017

Thayumanaswami Temple, Rockfort – Worship Practices & Festivals

Thayumanaswami Temple, Rockfort – Worship Practices & Festivals
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Shaivite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 8:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram(decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Thayumanaswami and Mattuvar Kuzhal Amman.
The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like somavaram and sukravaram, fortnightly rituals like Pradosham and monthly festivals like Ammavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and Sathurthi.
The temple celebrates dozens of festivals throughout the year. The Chittirai festival during the Tamil month of Chittirai (April - May) is celebrated for fifteen days, portraying the various incidents associated with the temple legend. The car festival is held on the ninth day, when the processional deities of Thayumanaswami and Mattuvar Kuzhalammai are taken out in separate chariots around the temple in NSB Road, Nandikovil Street, North and East Andar streets and the Malaivasal. 
The event of Lord Shiva servicing Rathnavathi during her labour moments is celebrated on the 5th day of Chithirai Brahmmotsavam in April-May. Curtain is downed during this event. They decorate Rathnavathi with child on her lap. The curtain is then lifted for darshan offering light puja- Deepa Aaradhana. After the puja, the oil and the maternity medicine given to mothers after delivery are given to the devotees as Prasad. It is believed that pregnant women consuming this will be blessed with safe delivery.
The Karthigai festival is celebrated during the Tamil month of Karthikai, between November and December, concluding with the celebration of Karthikai Deepam. A huge lamp is lit in a cauldron, containing three tons of ghee, at the top of the Malai Kottai hills during the Deepam. To mark the occasion, the festival deity of Thayumanaswami circumambulates the mountain.
Every full moon, tens of thousands of pilgrims worship Thayumanaswami by circumambulating the Tiruchirappalli hill barefoot. The circumambulation covers the circumference around the hill, and is referred as Girivalam. On the day of yearly Chitra Pournami, the full moon of the Tamil calendar, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come from across the world to worship Thayumanaswami.
Thayumanavar Guru Puja is celebrated in the month of Thai (January-February) on the day that the star Visakam reigns. Lord Shiva is brought in a procession on the first day of every Tamil month and on new moon days. Lord Shiva as a Swayambulinga graces devotees facing west. The rays of the sun fall on the Lord for three days in the evenings in the month of Panguni (March-April). The float festival also takes place during this period. Pujas are conducted under two codes – Shivagama and Kameekam. 
Chithirai Brahmmotsavam in April-May; Panguni float festival in March-April; Aadi Pooram in July-August; Aipasi Annabishekam in October-November; Tirukarthikai in November-December; Panchamurthy procession on Makar Sankranti (Thai Pongal) falling almost on January 14 and Maha Shivarathri in February-March are the festivals celebrated in the temple.