Where Shiva appeared as a Hunter – Kiratha Moorthy
The Maha Magam is celebrated on the day when Jupiter and the Moon are in Simharasi and the Sun in Kumbharasi on the full moon day in Maasi.
Anticipating the deluge that would destroy the world, a worried Brahmma sought the help of Lord Shiva who created a pot containing nectar and the seeds of creation (Jeeva Raasis). Brahmma decorated the pot with coconut, darbha, mango leaves, sacred thread, vastram and vilvam and placing the pot atop the Meru Hill (Chikkam) performed pooja reciting the Shristi Bheeja mantras. When the deluge struck, the pot was driven down the stream and finally came to rest in Thiru Kudanthai.
Lord Shiva appeared as a hunter and shot an arrow to break open the pot from where nectar dispersed in different directions and emerged as sacred Theertham in Potramarai Tank (Sarangapani temple) and Maha Magam tank.
The nose of the pot fell at Kudaivasal (currently about 15kms from Kumbakonam). The nectar also spread across 5 kms from here and is referred to as Pancha Krosa Sthalam.
In a thanking gesture, Brahmma renovated and decorated the Maha Magam tank, created a Theertham for himself and worshipped Kumbeswarar and treated him to a ceremonial bath. The Maha Magam tank also comprises of Theertham relating to the Lords of the eight frontiers, nine maidens of the sacred rivers and celestials such as Kinnaras and Gandharvas.
Shiva mixed sand with the nectar to create a lingam and worshipped it himself and later merged with it. This was the first creation after the deluge and hence this temple is referred to Aadhi Kumbeswarar (Oozhi Muthalvar). This Kiratha (hunter) idol is a special feature at this temple. The Peedam contains 72000 mantras. The Magam festival is a celebratory event to honour the contribution of the presiding deity of the Kumbeswarar temple. Performing pooja on Magam star for Lord Kumbeswarar is believed to bring about husband- wife unity, help in progeny and liberate one from previous birth’s curse.
The nine sacred rivers in order to extricate themselves of the burden of sins were directed by Lord Shiva to visit the Maha Magam tank once in 12 years to take a ceremonial bath on the Maha Magam day.
Parvathi came in search of Lord Shiva and pleased with her visit, he made her sit near him and requested her to provide darshan as Mangala Peedeswari and to bless them with all Mangalam.
There is no Abhishekam for the Lord as he is not of the granite stone idol. Every Monday and on Pradosham, he is anointed with Ashta Gandham - 8 fragrant items. Lord Kumbeswarar presents himself in a soft form here unlike his normally ugra posture.
Special Number 12
Maha Magam is said to happen once in 12 years. In reality it is celebrated after 4332 days (total of these is 12). The difference between these two: 4380 days (365daysx12years) and 4332 days is 48, the total of which is also 12 (4+8)!!!
Brahmotsavam in Maasi
Rudra Abhishekam takes place a day before the flag is hoisted and the theertham is taken to Maha Magam tank and poured there. It is in the Rishaba Lagnam- the one that has no Dosham out of the 12 Lagnams- that Kumbeswarar enters the Maha Magam tank for the Theerthavari Vaibhavam.
Roles interchanged at Thiru Kudanthai
Typically Brahmma is the creator, Vishnu the protector and Shiva is the destroyer. But here in Thiru Kudanthai, the roles were interchanged as seen from the legend relating to the Magam festival. Brahmma protected the pot given by Shiva (Vishnu’s role). Following the deluge, Shiva re-created the world by breaking open the pot containing the nectar (Brahmma’s role). And Vishnu struck the Sudarshana Chakra at the Sun God (Chakrapani temple) by taking on the Samhara role (Shiva’s role).
Maha Magam Message from Periva Sri Jayendra Saraswathi
This is an occasion that happens once in 12 years when all the sacred rivers in our country visit the Maha Magam in Thiru Kudanthai. The devotees need not worry that they have not been able to visit each of those sacred rivers individually. Just bathing at the Maha Magam tank during this period will secure them Punyam which will cleanse them of their sins. Once the sins go away, difficulties will vanish and one will find happiness all around.
When happiness grows and develops, the devotees tend to get peace of mind. Only if one has peace of mind, will life have found its merit for we should realise how blessed we are to have been born as a human being. Only those who are born as humans have this privilege of bathing in the Maha Magam tank.
It is important for us to keep doing good things in this life on a daily basis to accumulate Punyam and thus make ourselves worthy.
Brahmotsavam specially for the Maha Magam
Maasi is usually the time for Theppotsavam at the Sarangapani Divya Desam. However, this month, as part of the Maha Magam festival, a special Brahmotsavam is being celebrated. The Grand 10 day festival started last week, with the Garuda Vahana procession taking place on Wednesday evening.
As part of the Maha Magam celebrations, on Monday morning, Lord Sarangapani will be joined by Lords from the four other ancient Perumal temples in Thiru Kudanthai – Ramaswamy, Chakrapani, Rajagopalan and Aathi Varaha Perumal - on a joint procession to the banks of the Cauvery for Theerthavari.
Maasi Magam and an Exclusive Chakrapani Temple
When the Sun Lord’s heat had once become unbearable due to his arrogance of being the only one to provide shining bright light, Lord Vishnu, to teach him a lesson, hurled his chakra forcing the Sun Lord to go into hiding. It was on the Maasi Magam day that the Sun God first performed pooja invoking Lord Vishnu’s blessings and requested him to provide darshan to devotees as Chakrath Azhvaar. In memory of this event, the Chariot Festival is celebrated at the Chakrapani temple on Maasi Magam every year.
Azhvaars praising the Cauvery in Thiru Kudanthai
The Maha Magam festival is about cleansing one’s sins by bathing in the sacred theertham. Three Azhvaars have praised the sacred role of Cauvery in the lives of the people of Kumbakonam.
Thirumazhisai Azhvaar refers to Thiru Kudanthai temples reverberating with Vedic chanting by scholars who were seen with folded hands. He praises Cauvery as one with gushing waters. The presence of the Lord seen relaxing in the special slightly raised reclining posture was indeed a boon to the Vedic Seers of Thiru Kudanthai. The ever flowing water that was streaming down the Cauvery kept the town cool at all times.
Nam Azhvaar praises Lord Aravamudhan as shining amidst the fertile waters of the Cauvery. It is the water from the Cauvery that has helped the growth of huge quantity of paddy and the blooming of large Lotus flowers seen all around Thiru Kudanthai.
Maha Magam Celebrations
There will be a Pancha Moorthy Chariot Festival starting from the Kumbeswarar temple this Saturday and Sunday (20/21 Feb). On Monday (22 Feb), on the occasion of Maha Magam, Lord Kumbeswarar along with deities from 12 other Shiva temples will enter the Maha Magam tank for the celebration of Theerthavari Vaibhavam between 12noon and 1pm.
( A part of this story featured today in The Hindu Friday Review)
( A part of this story featured today in The Hindu Friday Review)