Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Osai Nayaki Thaala Pureeswarar Karthikeyan Shivachariar

Through his devotional service, he has transformed the temple over the last two decades
Bucking the trend of priests getting the next gen into academics, he has sent his son into full time agama patshala education
Every morning, just after 6am, Karthikeyan Shivachariar, the hereditary archaka of Osai Nayaki Thaala Pureeswarar Temple in Sirkazhi performs aradhana for the Lord at home, a tradition that had been followed by his father Gnana Sambandar Shivachariar all his life. It is after this hour long Japam that he heads to the Vairavan Chettiar maintained temple that he has been taking care for the last two decades. It was at this location that Thiru Gnana Sambanthar was presented with 'Golden Cymbals' by Lord Thaala Pureeswarar with Osai Nayaki  presenting the 'Sound' to his sacred verses.Being a Prarthana Sthalam to regain one’s sound chord and to remove the stammering in one's voice devotees visit this temple and several hundreds have found a solution here.The Honey that has been presented to Osai Nayaki is consumed by the devotee  to help regain the voice. 

His forefathers had moved to this temple a century earlier from Madharaveloor, a village west of Kollidam. His grandfather was provided a house in the 1920s and staying in that house performed service for several decades. 

Pooja in 14 temples each day
His father, Gnana Sambandar Shivacharirar, who passed away this year on the Maha Sivarathri night aged 78, too performed service at the temple for many decades. Each day, his father performed pooja in 14 temples in and around Sirkazhi for financial survival. 
Those were the decades when devotees did not turn up here except on festive occasions like the one mentioned above in Chitrai and on full moon days. As he was one of the most respected Shivachariars in the region, he was often called to anchor the Kumbabhisekams and that helped the finances.For a large part over the five decades till the turn of the century, the joint family lived in a hut house near the temple.
                    Appar on Kolakka

A Dumb Child gets his voice
It was during the service of Gnana Sambandar that in 1979 a couple invoked the blessings of the Lord and Ambal for their dumb child who had not spoken since birth. Sitting far away in Nagercoil, the mother lit a lamp at her home in the evening and placed her golden bangles before the Ambal in her pooja room invoking the blessings of Osai Nayaki. To their delight, the child called out for the mother the very next morning. In a thanking gesture, the couple presented the Lord and Ambal with Golden jewellery which is used once a year during the Chitrai utsavam.

The second day of the Chitrai Brahmotsavam at the Sattanathan temple in Sirkazhi is the big one at this temple for it is on that night that Thiru Gnana Sambandar makes his way to this temple from Sattanathan temple. Later in the night, after the Vibhoothi Abisekam, Thalapureeswarar and Thiru Gnana Sambandar go around the streets of this temple in a night long  pancha moorthy procession.

Quits School early, Joins Agama Patshala
Karthikeyan Shivachariar did not take a liking to academics at school and quit school after class V to join the Kanchi Kamakoti Veda Shiva Agama Patshala where he was initiated into the agamas, vedas, sastras, jothisham and the sacred verses by Umapathy Shivachariar. He was later anointed with the title of Shiva Agama Choodamani for his expert knowledge of the agamas. 
Even as a young boy aged 6, he had taken interest in the pooja performance watching his father’s service at the temple including the art of alankaram and the chandanam pasting. That was all in his mind at that young age to perform service to Thaala Pureeswarar and Osai Nayaki. After the patshala education, he returned to Sirkazhi and following his wedding, took charge as the archaka at a monthly salary of Rs. 270. Later, he stopped taking this salary and has been performing the four kaala service as a hereditary archaka. While his grandfather and father had performed every day pooja in multiple temples, Karthikeyan Shivachariar has stuck to three temples including Osai Nayaki where he performs service every day.

Thiru Gnana Sambandar's episode
After having drunk the sacred milk from the Goddess at Sattanathar temple in Sirkazhi, Thiru Gnana Sambanthar came here to Thiru Kolakka as a three year old child carried by his father. On seeing the Lord and excited at the playful fishes jumping in and out of the water in the huge sacred tank opposite the temple, Thiru Gnana Sambanthar rendered a devotional verse clapping continuously with his two hands in a joyous mood. 
As the devotion reached its peak, the child’s hands became red making the Lord anxious. It was then that the Lord initiated the child with the Panchakshara Mantra and presented him with a Golden Cymbals. However, being the original one with Gold, the cymbals did not produce sound!!! As he moved on and presented the songs in front of Ambal, seen north of the Lord, the Ambal blessed him by providing sound to his songs.

In memory of this historical episode, Ambal is referred to as Osai Nayaki (Dwani Pradhambigai) and the Lord as Thaala Pureeswarar (Saptha Pureeswarar).

Sundarar recalls the historical episode
In his praise of the temple, Sundarar describes the way the Lord presented Thiru Gnana Sambanthar with the Golden Cymbals in the full public view including marking the presence of Devas. 

Being the temple where Thiru Gnana Sambandar sang his first verse after gaining his voice, devotees have been visiting the temple for solutions relating to the vocal chord. And there have many instances of them regaining their voice after a visit to this temple. 

Big Improvements at the Temple
Karthikeyan Shivachariar taking over the temple coincided with the devotional wave that was taking off in TN temples at the beginning of this century. The temple has seen big improvements in the last decade thanks his efforts. The temple had been in dilapidated state earlier. The outer wall had collapsed and was rebuilt last decade. A Raja Gopuram is being planned at the Eastern entrance. A new madapalli too had been built as part of the renovation last decade. New mandapams have been built including the Vasantha Mandapam. After three decades, the temple was consecrated in 2017.
Wife doubles up as the 'Prasadam' cook
While there had been paricharakas, othuvars and service personnel at the temple in the century gone by, most had left the town seeking greener pastures. For a major part of the last two decades, Karthikeyan Shivachariar's wife has been the one who has cooked the prasadam for the Lord and Ambal each day of the year. This exertion has taken a toll on her health and she has been experiencing physical challenges relating to the shoulders and arms.

While the priests in most remote temples have chosen to send their next gen to formal school education and many are seen taking to Engineering, Karthikeyan Shivachariar has last year sent his young son to the Patshala for full time initiation into the Agamas. Last week, this section had featured a story on decades experienced Nagaswaram Vidwan of the Kapaleeswarar Temple keeping his son away from temple service by sending him into formal collegiate eduation. But Karthikeyan Shivachariar is keen for the hereditary service to continue.
While life has improved financially and he has constructed a brick based house, the expenses too have shot up including big on amma’s medicines. This year has also seen a few deaths in the family including the passing away of his father and uncle. There are other challenges too in life. But Karthikeyan Shivachariar is undaunted and clear that he would continue to serve Thaala Pureeswarar and Osai Nayaki, one that has been his way of life for the last two decades. Through the first half of a weekday, devotees are trickling in from various parts of the state but there is one thing common in all of them. They have high regard for the sacred service of Karthikeyan Shivachariar and look up to him to invoke the blessings for Swamy and Ambal.

Thaala Pureeswarar temple in Thiru Kolakka, now Thiru Thaala Mudayar Koil, is located two kms South West of Sattanathar temple in Sirkazhi.

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