Friday, September 16, 2016

Thiru Chotruthurai Othavaneswarar Temple

Significant Contributions made from the 9th Century for the conduct of annual festivals, to burn a perpetual lamp and to feed Brahmanas
IT Consultants seek to restore the temple to its ancient glory, to revive centuries old festivals
Two interesting IT industry equipped people are currently engaged in the revival of the huge and ancient Othanvaneswarar temple in Thiru Chotruthurai seen right on the Southern Bank of the Cauvery, one that has inscriptions dating back to the 9th Century AD. This is the only one among the Sapthasthanam temples (other than Thiruvayaru) that has been praised by the three three saint poets. Every here in the month of Chitrai, Iyaravappar of Thiruvayaru makes his way to this temple as part of the Sapthasthana Utsavam.

From IT Industry to this remote temple
Moved by the Lord during one of his annual trips and saddened at the ignored state of the temple, a determined and devoted Agora Shivam Gurukal quit a high paying IT job in Hyderabad and settled at this temple earlier this decade for a three digit monthly salary (Yes, priests performing pooja in remote Saivite and Vaishnavite temples under the HR & CE administration are paid only three and low four digit salaries every month).

Since his arrival, the temple has seen a dramatic transformation with the revival of many festivals that had earlier come to a halt.  The maintenance and improvement of the Nandavanam in the outer prakara is also a redeeming feature at the temple.

Taking care of the temple with a BE, MS…P.hd!!!
Kannan, the trustee at the temple, has an Engineering and a Masters degree in Computer Science and is currently pursuing a P hd from Sastra University. Despite the temptation to move out for greener pastures, he has chosen to settle down here in his hereditary home opposite the temple to maintain and make improvements at the temple.

The two are also involved in teaching young children in the village the entire Thevaram verses. These children help out in the maintenance of the temple with cleaning activities every weekend. It is no wonder that the temple despite very little support from the HR & CE looks totally clean. There were no devotees present but unfazed by this, the Gurukal performed Abhishekam for Lord Muruga, seen in a special posture and Dakshinamurthy.

Jointly and with support from devotees, the two are hoping to restore the temple to its ancient glory and to revive the festivals that were celebrated in a grand manner a 1000 years ago.

The legend
A devoted couple undertook penance here invoking the blessings of the Lord and Ambal seeking liberation from famine. The Lord and Ambal are believed to have provided darshan in Thiru Kalyana Kolam and presented the Akshaya Patram to the couple. Hence this is believed to be a temple to provide relief from financial troubles.
Indra, Surya, Gautama rishi and Adiseshan performed pooja invoking the blessings of the Lord.

Lord Muruga is seen between the Sannidhis of the Lord and Ambal, with the peacock on the left, a unique feature at the temple.

Soruthaana Canal
In centuries gone by, this place was so sacred that the nearby canal was filled with rice instead of water such was the prosperity and the purity of the people in this region. Hence the canal was also referred to as Soruthaana Canal.

As part of the Sapthasthanam festival in Chitrai, sacred food is sent from here as their special offering for the wedding celebrations of Nandi, the vehicle of the Lord.

Thiru Gnana Sambanthar’s praise
At the end of each of the verses, Saint Poet Thiru Gnana Sambanthar concludes with ‘ Chotruthurai Senru Adaiveney’ indicating that he had already started invoking the blessings of the Lord right from the beginning of his journey to this temple, such was his special devotion to this Lord.

Appar’s special praise in all his compositions
This is also the only temple in this region where Thirunavukarasar has sung praise of this temple in all his compositions – Nerisai, Virutham, Kurunthogai and Thandagam. 

All the four Saint poets go on a street procession on their respective Avatharam days every year. An abhishekam also takes place on each of those days.

The temple way back in the 9th and 10th Century AD
During the rule of Varaguna Pandya II, ongoing contributions were made by devotees in the late 9th Century AD to the burning of a perpetual lamp at the temple. From the contribution of 300 kasu to a 100 sheep to 20 Kalanju of gold, contributions poured in and devotees ensured that the lamp burned throughout.

A decade later, in 890AD during the rule of Aditya I, there was a gift of two conches for blowing in connection with Thirupalli Sevai and other services. 

Sacred bath on Sankranthi day
A few decades later, in 930AD, when Parantaka Chozha I reigned the region, there was a gift of 45sheep to provide for Ghee, Milk and Curd for the sacred bath of the Lord on the Sankranthi day. During that decade, there were also gifts of two separate lamp stands.

Brahmanas were fed at this temple
In 954 AD, there was a land endowment for feeding Brahmanas including a lady and yogis in the temple.

A very interesting arrangement
In the last decade of the 10th Century AD, a huge quantity of oil was provided to light 50 lamps during the service in the night. The arrangement was such that 8 people engaged in the maintenance of cleanliness of the temple were assigned the task of lighting these 50 lamps along with four persons who were engaged in blowing the trumpet, one cook and 8 people living in house-sites belonging to the temple.

During this same decade, there was a cash gift made for providing fly-whisk, arecanuts, ghee, curd, gingely seeds, rice and service for the conduct of two festivals. 
Vaikasi Visakam Festival and Lord’s procession
In the year 1000AD, there was a gift made to support the procession of the deity during the Vaikasi Visakam festival.

In the second half of the 12th Century, Kulotunga Chozha purchased a Nattuvakini from Devan Udayanayakan and gave it as Stridhava to his daughter. And thus her husband secured the right of doing service in the temple like other Padiyilar and of enjoying the privilege due thereunto.

Vaishaka Celebrations every month
Also, when Para Kesarivarma Chozha took over the reign, there was a gift of money by a lady for worship and special offerings on Vaishaka day every month. Also there was a list made of gold ornaments with precision stones presented by her including gold handled fly whisk and silver salver.

Plastering the Mandapa
The support for the temple continued well into the 13th century. During the rule of Rajendra III, there was a sale of a house site for purchasing jaggery to plaster the mandapa.

Contribution to new Vahanas??
A new Dwajasthambam has recently been installed and plans are afoot to revive the 10 day Brahmotsavam from Panguni of next year. Efforts are on to build 11 Vahanas ahead of the Brahmotsavam.  Support for four of these is already in place. Those interested to support the building of the balance 7 Vahanas may contact Trustee Kannan @ 99438 84377. 
Historically, as seen above, contributions poured in for the temple to burn the lamp. Devotees interested in supporting the temple with oil for burning the perpetual lamp may contact the trustee or the Gurukal.

Sapthasthanam festival in Chitrai
Anna Abhishekam in Aipasi (full moon day)
Akshaya Trithigai
Theerthavari on Aadi Amavasya day
Margazhi Thiruvembavai festival with dance and music concerts through the month
Celebration of Soora Samharam in Puratasi

Quick Facts
 Lord   : Othavaneswarar
Ambal : annapoorni (Separate Sannidhi in the South)
Saint Poets: Thiru Gnana Sambandhar, Thirunavukarasar and Sundarar

The temple is open between 63am-12.30pm and 430pm-8.30pm. Contact Agora Sivam Gurukal @ 83446 58671

How to reach
Thiruchotruthurai is 4kms from Kandiyur on the Ayyampettai route. Buses ply every half hour on this route. Mini buses also ply on this route.

Auto from Kandiyur will cost Rs. 50 (Auto numbers: 96770 27052/95787 88505).

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