The Avathara Utsavam of Bhoothath Azhvaar (Aipasi Avittam) was celebrated in a grand manner at the Sthala Sayana Perumal Divya Desam
Born in Maamallapuram, Bhoothath Azhvaar made his way to Thiru Kovilur, on one stormy night, where he met with Poigai Azhvaar and Pey Azhvaar (the three of them are referred to as Mudhal Azhvaars) and sought refuge for the night at the ashram of Mrugandu Rishi. Delighted at having had darshan of Lord Ulagalantha Perumal that night, Bhoothath Azhvaar sang 100 verses of praise referred to as the ‘Second Thiruvanthathi’ among the Iyarpa composition in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham. In his first verse ‘அன்பே தகளியா ஆர்வமே நெய்யாக’, Bhoothath Azhvaar says that with love as the lamp, eagerness as the ghee and a sweet heart as the wick, he lights the ‘lamp of knowledge’ showering praise on Lord Narayana.
Sayana Posture without Adisesha
Eager to place 1008 lotus flowers at the feet of the Lord of Thiru Parkadal, Pundarika Rishi made his way in the Eastern direction but found to his dismay the sea water blocking his path. Undeterred, he put his mind and effort every day in clearing his way by removing the water with his hand. Pleased with the effort of the Rishi, Lord Vishnu came here disguised as an old hungry Brahmin asking for food.
Leaving aside the work of removing the water, the Rishi placed the 1008 flowers near the hungry old man and went away to bring food . On his return, he found to his delight Lord Vishnu reclining on the ground in a sleeping posture adorning the Lotus flowers that the Rishi had left behind. In memory of this event, the Lord here is called Sthala Sayana Perumal and one finds Pundarika Rishi at the feet of Sthala Sayana Perumal offering Lotus flowers. Interestingly, the sleeping lord is seen here without Adisesha, quite a unique feature.
The day long celebrations on Monday morning began with Bhoothath Azhvaar being treated to a special Thirumanjanam (sacred bath). At 10am, clad in a bright mango coloured silk dhoti and with a glittering crown on his head, Bhoothath Azhvaar made his way around the temple seeking the blessings first of Nilamangai Thaayar and then of Sthala Sayana Perumal.
After the recital of 20verses of Thiru Mangai Azhvaar’s Periya Thirumozhi praise of Thiru Kadal Mallai and Thalasayana Perumal, Lord Sthala Sayana Thuraiyaar (Ulaguyya Ninraan), the Utsava deity of the Divya Desam, presented a special birthday gift to Bhoothath Azhvaar by providing him an exclusive ‘Kaithala Seva’.
Just after 1230pm, Bhoothath Azhvaar made a 1km trip to the cave temple of Aadhi Varaha Perumal, one of the two ancient Perumal temples that continue to exist here at Maamallapuram.
After a few hours of rest, Bhoothath Azhvaar was back for the evening celebrations. The highlight of the evening was the joint procession of Lord Ulaguyya Ninraan and Bhoothath Azhvaar around the four Mada Streets of Maamallapuram. The birthday celebrations ended well after midnight after a visibly happy Bhoothath Azhvaar had enjoyed the recital of 250verses of Nam Azhvaar’s Tiruvoimozhi.