Chennai: Navagrahas, the nine celestial bodies, have an important place in almost all temples. In India, many States have Navagraha temples which are a cluster of nine shrines, each one an abode of one of the Navagrahas.
In Chennai, Navagraha temples can be found around Kundrathur, and Sri Neelakandeswarar Temple, located at Gerugambakkam is one of those Navagraha temples, dedicated to Kethu.
Sri Neelakanteswarar Temple belongs to the Chola period. The main deity here is Lord Shiva, called Neelakanteswarar, and Goddess Aadhi Kamakshi. Upon entering the temple, inside the main mandapam, facing the entrance, which is the southern side is Goddess Kamakshi in standing posture. On the left, facing east, is a separate sanctum for Lord Neelakanteswarar in Linga form.
Speaking about the temple, priest Vaidyanathan says, “The Lord bears the name as he swallowed the poison which emerged during the churning of the milky ocean. Since his consort Goddess Parvathi stopped the poison from being swallowed, his neck turned blue. Hence the name Neelakanteswarar. The Linga also holds a speciality as it has a
serpent on top of it which is worshipped as Kethu. There is no separate sanctum for Lord Kethu and the main deity is worshipped as Kethu,” he says.
“Aadhi Kamakshi also has a speciality as the Goddess here is said to be the first of the five forms of Kamakshi, older even than that of Kanchi Kamakshi,” he adds.
The pillars on the main mandapam has many inscriptions and the priest points to the image of Kethu inscribed on the wall of a pillar facing the sanctum. On the left, near the entrance of the main sanctum, is a small idol of Sankatahara Ganapathy and, on the right, is Lord Chandikeshwarar.
Speaking about this, the priest said, “Since the Lord consumed poison, it was difficult to control the poisonous breath of the Lord; Nandhi and Chandikeswarar are powerful enough to absorb the poisonous breath.” The temple also has a Navagraha shrine on the northeastern corner and a sanctum for Lord Nagar on the south.
This temple is a parihaara sthala for Kethu dosha and the priest adds, “This is a parihaara sthalam for people having ill-effects in their lives because of Kethu’s position in the horoscope. Here, every Tuesday, during Yama Kandam, from 9 am to 10.30 am, special poojas and homams are performed to Sri Kethu Bhagavan and after that special abhishekam too takes place. Whatever problem a person has, be it financial troubles, health issues or problems in marriage, if people participate in the homam for five weeks continuously, all their problems will get resolved.”
The temple is open from 8 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 8 pm.