Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar Temple – The Temple
Presiding Deity is called as Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar. Shivalinga in the temple is facing west. Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi are behind the Shiva Linga. Normally devotees will have the darshan of Lord Shiva – Shivalinga – from the front side, but here devotees will have darshan from the rear in this temple. According to rules, Shiva Puja should be performed by sitting westward. Lord Shiva along with Mother is performing the Linga Puja this way, hence the devotees have the rear side darshan. Urchavar is Somaskanthar.
Mother is called as Naduvoor Nayaki / Mathiyapuri Nayaki. Mother Mathiyapuri Nayaki graces from a separate shrine. As the temple is at the centre (Madhya) of Madurai city, she is so named. She is also praised as Mangalya Vara Prasadini as those praying to her for timely marriage, are blessed with happy matches. Mother Mathiyapuri Nayaki appears in a standing posture on a lotus designed peeta. The peeta is adorned with a Sri Chakra carved in stone. Generally, Sri Chakra is drawn on copper sheets and installed in temples. This is a difference in this temple.
Lord Lingodhbava is under a Bodhi tree (Arasa Maram in Tamil) behind Mother Mathiyapuri Nayaki shrine. Virgins facing delays in marriage worship here with milk abishek to Lord Lingodhbava, offering a skirt, Mangal sutra, turmeric and kumkum seeking a good match for them. Sthala Vriksham is Dhasathala Vilwa (leaves with ten petals). Theertham is Shiva Pushkarini. Veerabhadra in this shrine is facing west. Lord Siddhi Vinayaka graces the devotees in the temple.
Special pujas are dedicated to Lord Bhairava in the temple on new moon fortnight Ashtami (eighth day after full moon), Karthika Shamba Sasti in November-December and Margazhi Ashtami days. A strong Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice) prepared with rice and chillies in 1:3 ratio respectively is offered as Nivedhana to Lord Bhairava.
The priest in the temple performs Shiva Puja standing before the Linga and Suyarupa Shiva. Abishek is offered to Shivalinga only. Thaila (oil) abishek is offered to Suyarupa Shiva on New moon, (Amavasya), full moon days (Poornima) days and 30 days in the month of Margazhi, all totaling to 54 days in a year. On Shivarathri night (in February-March) conch abishek (Sankabisheka) is performed with Homas. During the morning puja (Vila Puja) Dosa (a popular dish of Tamilnadu) is offered as Nivedhana to Lord Shiva.
Of the five components comprising the Universe – Land, Space, Fire, Water and Wind – this place belongs to Prithvi-land category. Hence, those constructing new building, place a handful of sand in the Shiva shrine and then mix it with other building materials. It is noteworthy that Lord Shiva had his Coronation here and performed Linga Puja himself here. Those aspiring for leadership and respectable positions perform Raja Upachara Archana – Respecting the Royals to realize their wish.
Lord Shiva is said to have played 64 Tiruvilayadal-play of miracles. In Madurai, appearing as Vallaba Siddha, He made an Elephant of Stone eat Sugarcane. He is sitting in Padmasana (one type of Yoga sitting) showing the sky (Space) by the right hand and holding some puja materials (kungiliyam, Sambirani etc.) in the right hand. People pray to Vallaba Siddha on Mondays. Special pujas are performed to Lord Siddha on full moon days in Thai (January-February) and Chitra (April-May) months and on new moon day in Aadi-July-August.
Lord Kasi Viswanatha in the front Mandap is fair in complexion. Mother Visalakshi is nearby. It is worth recalling that Lord Sri Rama performed Shiva Puja in Rameswaram with a sand Lingam for relief from the Dosha of killing Ravana a Shiva devotee. Remembering this event, a Sand Linga was installed in this temple too. Lord Rama appears with his Kodandam Bow behind this Linga. Devotees can also have the darshan of Jura Deva with his consort Jura Shakti who cures all types of fevers. Devotees offer Pepper Rasam and rice as Nivedhana here.
Sri Chandikeswara who is maintaining a register of the devotees visiting Shiva temples and recommending to Lord to listen to their prayer, is not offered any special pujas generally in temples. Devotees do it in this temple. They worship Lord Shiva with a garland and offer it again to Chandikeswara seeking His help to take their prayers to Lord Shiva. Hence, He is praised as Recommendation Chandikeswara.
The temple praised as Kailas on Earth is southwest of Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple in the city. Based on the name of the city-Madurai-, Lord Shiva and Mother Mathiyapuri Nayaki are also praised as Madura Nayaka and Madura Nayaki respectively. The Vilwa tree in the temple has ten leaves in a stem – Dasadhala Vilwa. Those facing adverse aspects of Jupiter planet worship Lord Dakshinamurthy in the temple with special pujas.
Pookuzhi walking (walking on a fire pit as a prayer commitment) is a ritual commonly observed in Shakti (Goddess) temples. In Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar Temple, devotees perform this for Lord Muruga on the day after the Vaikasi Visakam festival in May-June.