In Feb this year we visited Tirunelveli to celebrate Amma’s 75th birthday and we did it as a surprise for her. The house where the entire Tiruvadi Iyengar family was born and raised is on Sannathi Street and this is the house that my great grandmother Onnama (her name was Padmasini, but she was fondly called as Onnama) bought for Rs. 100 and paid for it in EMIs of Rs. 10 per month !!!
The Varadaraja Perumal temple is at the beginning of this street and we visited the temple. There is a Hanuman shrine inside the Perumal temple that was Onnama’s favourite. Hanuman is also my mother’s favourite God and yeah he is Vidya’s and Jayanth’s favourite God as well. I also like Hanuman. We went to another of his temples called “Getwell” Anjaneyar Temple as well. The idol of Hanuman there is the cutest idol of his … his eyes twinkle and you almost feel like he will come bounding out of the temple. I took a few pictures and Seenu Mama keeps sending several photographs of both the temples with different “alankarams”. Interestingly both the temple priests are sons of my mother’s classmate !! So we have a special connect.
Yesterday it was Krishnan’s birthday according to his star, so there was a special puja done at the Getwell Anjaneyar temple. Anjaneyar is Hanuman in Tamil. Am posting a few pictures of both the Hanuman idols here. The decorations (alankaram) is an art form and must be recognised as one.
As part of my 50th birthday I have drawn up a list of 50 experiences that I want to have and visiting temples is one of them. I started with these two temples and its interesting to hear the stories, see the alankarams (decoration sounds strange) and marvel at the sculptures !! What a rich heritage our country has and I guess I have missed a lot of it simply because I didn’t like going to temples. For me either God is everywhere or he is nowhere. I still believe that, but I am beginning to realise that temples are something else. They need to be functional for the culture and traditions to be preserved and the sculptures they have are something else totally.
See the beautiful alankaram on “Vishnu as Dhanvantri” at the Getwell Anjaneyar Temple. Dhanvantari is the God of medicine and the one who brought Ayurveda to Earth.
Read about the Varadaraja Perumal temple here – Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Excerpts from the page above –
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Varadaraja Perumal. It was built by King Verapandian in the 12th century AD. Due to the abundant presence of Red Soil around the temple, this place got the name Sengani, where Sen meaning Red and Kani meaning Land in Tamil. The name later changed to Sangani. The Kubera vassal, the main entrance of the temple is constructed on the northern side of the shrine. This is followed by Maha mandapam, Artha mandapam and Garbhagriha.
The presiding deity Sri Varadaraja Perumal stands in the center with Sridevi to the right and Bhudevi to the left in the sanctum sanctorum. He has ‘chakra and dhana rekha’ in his right hands and ‘sankhu and kadayutham’ in his lefts hands. The lord was placed in this location by Saint Brighu. There are also shrines for Garuda and Anjaneya in this temple. The main tree also known as sthala vriksham of the temple is a bamboo tree.
According to the history, once in the 14th century a miracle occurred. A king who ruled Tirunelveli at that time came to the temple to get blessings from the God. But the priest was unavailable due to illness. At that time the God disguised himself as the priest and performed the pooja, saving the priest from the king’s punishment. Hence the God is often called ‘Vaazha Veikum Perumal’ (the one who saves). As the Dhana Rekha (prosperity line) runs on the right hand of Varadaraja Perumal, the belief is that if a devotee places a coin in the hand of the Lord, it will multiply. Hence, the Lord is called Dhana Rekha Perumal. The temple was recently renovated.