Sixty-year-old Shiva temple is built around a banyan tree

Chennai: First there was a banyan tree and then came a temple. But both are now existing in harmony. That is the speciaility of the Sri Bala Vinayagar Sri Balamurugan Temple on Vanniyar Street, Kodambakkam.

Situated amidst a residential area with narrow streets, the temple was built under a huge banyan tree 60 years back, says N Shankar, the priest.

“We consider the banyan tree as sacred and very important as only because of the tree, the temple itself came into being. The tree might be some 70 years old. The locals placed a Vinayaka idol under it and started worshipping it. As more and more people came here to worship, they formed a group to raise funds and built a temple 60 years ago. It was also decided that the tree will not be disturbed. So, the sanctum sanctorums were built around it. Now, the tree is situated exactly at the centre of the temple,” he says.

The main deity here, however, is Dheerga Pureeswarar (Lord Shiva). On the left is a separate shrine for Sri Bala Vinayagar and on the right, for Sri Bala Murugan.

Between Bala Murugan and Dheerga Pureeswarar shrines, there is a small shrine for Bala Sastha (Ayyappa).

On the eastern side of the temple, there is a separate shrine for Sornambikai Devi. “The other speciality of the temple is the way the Sornambikai deity has been sculpted. The left leg of the Ambal is in front of the other leg in a walking posture,” says priest Shankar.

Suryan and Chandran are placed at the entrance. And just near the entrance on the left, a Saibaba idol is enshrined.

When asked about this, he says, “There are a lot of Shirdi Saibaba devotees here and so they placed a Saibaba idol inside the temple during the latest consecration that happened two years ago. Apart from Saibaba, other shrines for Kaala Bairavar, Danvantri, Lakshmi Hayagreevar were constructed before the consecration.”

Behind the Shiva shrine, construction work on Lakshmi Narasimhar shrine is currently in progress. There are also other shrines for Veerabadrar, Naga Kanni and Bala Muneeswarar.

Every year, Aadi Krithikai is celebrated in a grand manner. This year, on 5 August, during the occasion, special poojas and abhishekams were performed for Lord Muruga. After the special alankaram and aarati, 1,000 people were provided annadhanam, says Shankar.

“Aadi Pooram every year sees Goddess Sornambigai decorated with bangles and a lot of people visit the temple on these occasions. Other than Aadi festival, other special occasions include Vinayaka Chathurthi, Navaratri and Shivarathri,” he said.

Every year, on the occasion of Ayyappa Makara Jyothi, special poojas for Bala Sastha and Ganapathi homam are performed.

The temple is open every day from 7.30 am to 11.30 am and 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm.

Aaditya Anand M