Description:: This Shivastalam
is a vast temple shrine of great significance, especially in light of Saneeswarar's
sannidhi here, which attracts thousands when the planet Saturn transits between zodiac
signs. Tirunallar is located in close proximity to Karaikkal and Nagappattinam, (is under the administration of Pondicherry)
and is well connected by road to many other towns in the area. Tirunallar is best
accessed, driving from Mayiladuturai or from Nagapattinam.
Tirunallar is one of the 7 Saptavitanka stalams of Tyagaraja connected with the
Mucukunda Chola legend and Tiruvarur - housing Nagavitankar
(Unmatta Natanam). The seven Vitankastalams are Tiruvarur,
Naagai, Tirunallaaru and Tiruvaimur.
The image of Tyagarajar at Tiruvarur
is the foremost of the 7 from which Indra is believed to have asked Muchukunda Cholan to
pick the original image of Somaskandar worshipped by Mahavishnu. . Muchukunda Cholan is
believed to have picked the right one (the image at Tiruvarur) , and Indra is believed to
have rewarded him with all of the 7 images, which the latter installed at 7 different
places within his territory, and it is these 7 temples which constitute the 7
Tirunallar is also ssociated with Sambandar's Pachaippatikam which remained 'green'
even in the midst of his 'Anal Vaatam' at Madurai. .King Nala of the puranas is said to
have been relieved of his afflictions upon worshipping here.
The Tirunallar temple is a one of a kind temple with a
shrine of this grandeur exclusively dedicated to Saturn. The
architectural features date back to the Chola period and inscriptions
dating back to the twelfth century AD are found in the temple.
Legends: Several mythological stories are associated with
this temple. It is said that King Nala was under the influence of Sani, i.e. Saturn for an
extended period of time in his life and went through several ordeals and obtained total
relief only after worshipping Shiva at this shrine.
Worship services are performed five times a day. Other
than these, a whole host of festivities are held throughout the year. On
Tamil New Year's day, (marked by the transition of the Sun from Pisces to Aries according
to the Indian astrological system) Tyagaraja is taken in a procession and oblations are
performed to the Emerald Lingam.
A grand eighteen day festival is performed in the month of Vaikashi (when
the sun resides in the sign of Taurus). The tenth day of this festival, when the moon
resides passes through the sign of Scorpio, Saneeswarar (Saturn) is taken in procession.
This day is said to mark the day when King Nala was relieved of the influence of Saturn.
The month of Aani (Gemini) witnesses festivities related to Nataraja -
Shiva - the Lord of Dance. The month of Aadi (Cancer) marks the time for special services
to Sundaramoorthy Nayanar - one of the foremost Saivite poet Saints. The full moon night
in the month of Purattasi (Leo) witnesses several special services to the Emerald Lingam.
This month also is the time for the nine day festival for the Goddess Pranambika
(Navaratri). In the month of Aippasi (Libra) is celebrated a festival for Subramanya.
During the month of Kartikai (Scorpio), Kartikai Deepam is celebrated,
marked by a procession of the five principal temple deities and by the symbolic bonfire.
The month of Markali (Saggitarius) is when, a ten day festival dedicated to Natarajar is
performed, where verses from Tiruvempavai are recited. There are several other festivals
including one on Panguni Uthiram.
Perhaps, the best known festival here is the one marking the transition of
Saturn between Zodiac signs (Sani Peyarchi). This happens once in two and a half years and is visited by
hundreds of thousands of deities. The entire town wears a festive look as the deity
Saneeswarar is taken in a procession around town.