Chennai, Feb 21: On the special Mahasivarathri day, which comes this year along with the pradosham, special 1008 kalasa pooja and rudraparayanam along with four – kaala pooja will be performed today at the Dandeeswaram Temple, one of the oldest temples in the city.
The temple is said to have been more than 1,000 years old and has a rich history and many specialities. It is located at Karunabigai Colony, Velacheri. The temple has three entrances and upon entering the main mandapam, one can worship lord Dandeeswarar in linga form with the idol facing east. On both the sides of the entrance of the sanctum, Dwarapalakas are sculpted from the granite stone and next to them on both sides, idols of lord Vinayagar and Murugan along with Valli and Deivanai are placed. In the same mandapam, there is a separate sanctum for goddess Karunambigai with the idol facing south. Outside the main mandapam, there is a nandi idol, the face of which is tilted to its right, behind it is the temple’s dwajasthambam.
On the outer walls of the main sanctum, there is an ancient inscription on the wall that suggests that the temple is more than 1055 years old and is said to have been built during the time of Chola king Sundara Chozhar (957-973 AD).
Speaking about the temple’s history, the patron of the temple, S Kumar Raja said, ”According to the Chola inscriptions, Velacheri is mentioned as Velicheri and since it suggests that the temple belongs to the reign of Sundara Chozhar, who is the father of Raja Raja Cholan, this makes the temple much more older than Tanjore Big Temple. However, Vedasreni is also believed to be the name of Velacheri earlier as it is said that it was where the four vedas worshipped lord Shiva. The temple is also a Yama Parihara sthalam after Thirukkadaiyir as according to mythology, after the Markandeya story, lord Shiva is said to have obtained the Dandam which Yama uses to take lives. It is said that Yama got his Dandam back after worshipping Shiva here and hence the main deity is also called Dandeeswarar and it is a Yama Parihara sthalam.”
The temple has two praharams and in the inner praharam, on the outer walls of the main sanctum, Mahaganapathy and Sri Dakshinamoorthy idols are placed, facing south, Facing west, Lingothbavar idol is placed and idols of Brahma and Durgai Amman are placed facing north. Close to the wall, Chandigeshwarar is also present.
There are also separate sanctums for Somaskandar, Mahalakshmi and Saraswathi, facing east. It is also placed in such a way that devotees can worship all the three devis (Durga, Lakhmi and Saraswathi) by standing in front of the Saraswathi sanctum. There is also a panchaloha idol of lord Natarajar facing south with Kalabhairavar idol placed adjacent to it.
Idols of Mahavishnu and Suriyar are also placed nearby. Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi can be worshipped from a single spot.
On the outer prahara, near the east entrance, under a Vilva tree idols of Lord Naagar are placed. On the farther end, Navagraham deities are placed. Between the south entrance and the entrance of the main sanctum there is a seperate mandapam where people can worship lord Veda Vinayagar. There are also sanctums for Sokkanathar, Meenakshi Amman and Vaideeswarar. Idols of 63 Nayanmars are also present here. The temple also has Annadhana Mandapam and the temple tank is called Yamatheertha kulam.
Speaking about the temple’s specialities, Kumar Raja says, ”One of the highlights of this temple is its architecture. The temple is entirely built of granite and unlike other temples, the dome of the main sanctum is also made of granite. Also during Pongal, the rays of the sun directly fall on the idol of Dandeeswarar, which is very special.”
About the important festivals and poojas done in the temple, he says, ”During Panguni Uthiram, Thirukkalyanam will take place with panchamoorthi idols namely, lord Shiva, goddess Durga, lord Muruga, lord Vinayaga and lord Chandigeswarar will be taken around the Kada streets. During Sivarathri, the third Kaala pooja is very special during which the deity will be decorated with ash and a vilvam garland. Annabhishekam during the month of Aippasi will ltake place in grand manner. For Nataraja, six types of abhishekam takes place every year. During Thirivadhirai, abhishekam starts at 9 pm and will go on till 2 am. The next day the deity will be decorated specially for Aarudra Darshan. During ashtami special pooja will be done to Kaala Bhairavar.”
”As it is a Yama Parihara sthala, during Maalaiya Ammavasai lots of people do the tharpanam at the temple tank. Also, like in Thirukkadaiyur, sashtiaptha poorthi and sadabhishekam are happening regularly at the temple apart from Aayush Homan. Everyday poojas are performed to Dandeeswarar six times – 6.30 am, 8.30 am, 11.30 am, 4.30 pm, 6 pm and 8.30 pm. Every Monday morning from 7.30 am to 9 am Rudrabhishekam is being conducted. In the month of February before the exams, Saraswathi pooja with archanai and abhishekam will be conducted once every year. Every pradosham special abhishekam will be done and in Rishabha vaganam the deity will be taken out on a procession. Also, everyday, annadhanam is arrranged at the temple and Shatru Sanhara Homan is also performed.”
The temple’s latest kumbhabhishekam was done in 2017 and it is under the control of the HR & CE right from 1975. The temple is open everyday from 6 am to 11.30 pm and from 4 pm to 8.30 pm.