Azhagiya Koothar Temple (Veera Pandiswarar Temple), Kattarimangalam – Legends
There was a king by name Singa Varman who ruled Uthiradhesam. Singa Varman was tyrant ruler and his people suffered a lot. Later he changed to be a good-hearted man and decided to go to forest for doing meditation (Thavam). He saw the sages Pathanjali Munivar and Vyakarapadhar. Lord Shiva gave them darshan and the King also had witnessed it. The sages asked the kind to build Lord Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. The King asked the Sculptors to make a Natarajar statue made of Copper and they created a beautiful Nataraja statue. The statue in copper metal itself was so captivating that the king wondered how beautiful it will be to make similar statue of Natarajar in Gold.
The King ordered the head sculptor Namasivaya Muthu to create Natarajar statue in Gold. The statue was made in Gold but seems every night Lord Shiva would drop a copper coin over it secretly to change the golden statue in to copper statue. The king was shocked to see this and ordered to keep the head sculptors in the fort Jail. The sculptor pleaded the King to prove his innocence but in vain. That night Lord Shiva as Natarajar appeared in Dream to the king and said, “I don’t wish to be in Gold, I wish to be in Copper”. So, the King released the sculptor.
Lord Shiva also asked the King to do this. The copper Nataraja must be carried by the sculptor – Namasivaya. The place where the copper statue weighs too much that they can’t proceed further, that will become the residence of the Copper Nataraja and the Temple must be built there. Thus, when the sculptor Namasivaya came towards south, carrying the Nataraja statue over his head on the banks of river Thamirabarani, it weighed so much that he could not move ahead. So, the statue was placed there. Copper in Tamil is Cheppu. Hence the lord got the name Chepparai Natarajar.
Ramapandian, a local king built the temple there and installed Nellaiyappar with Mother Gandhimadhi and also built a shrine for Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. Veerapandian, a chieftain under king Ramapandian happened to see a Nataraja idol in Chepparai. He told a sculptor that he wanted two such idols closely similar to Chepparai Nataraja. After completion, Veerapandian installed one in Kattarimangalam temple and the other at Karisuzhndha Mangalam. He was so happy to see the beauty of the idols.
The king thought that no one should have such beautiful Nataraja idol and called his men and ordered them to kill the sculptor so that he could not make idols further. The merciful men spared the sculptor after cutting off his hands. The chief king Ramapandian, on hearing this gruesome act ordered cutting off the hands of Veerapandian. The Sthapathy-sculptor was treated with an artificial hand. The art-hungry sculptor established his skill by making the third idol too with his wooden hand. It was a wonderful idol than the earlier two. The excited sculptor touched hard the cheeks of the idol and his hard touch made a scar on the cheeks of the Idol. This was installed in Karuvelankulam.