Presiding Deity: Thirumoolanathar
Reputed as: Akasha Sthalam (space)
Dance stage: Chittrambalam
Holy tree: Thillai tree
Holy water: Sivagangai
Scriptural name: Thillai
The devotees gain complete peace in mind. Every physical ailment is cured. Those who aspire proficiency in arts and wisdom pray to the Lord of Chidambaram . The childless become parents. Family prosperity is ensured.
The Thiruvanandal Puja is noteworthy and highly devotion provoking. The sandals of the presiding deity is placed on a throne near the Nataraja Sannidhi offering milk, fruits and wafer (pori) as Nivedhana. Deepa Pujas and Camphor jothi offered. The cost of this puja is undertaken (Kattalai) by the devotees. The lord is bathed (abisheks) in gingeley oil, cosmetic powders, milk, curd, fruit juices, tender coconuts, panchamirta, sandal paste, rose water, sacred ash and adorned with fine clothes. Also Sangabishekam (pouring the water on the lord through a conch) Kalasabishekam are also offered. The goddess is bathed with turmeric powder, adored with silk sarees. Offerings are placed in the hundi. Feeding the visiting devotees are also done. The wealthy offer fat donations for the renovations of the temple.
What is Chidambara Rahasyam ?: In the dance hall (Chittrambalam) there is a small entrance on the right side of the Sannidhi. The screen here is removed for which the Arathi is shown but there is no form seen there. Only a gold leaf garland alone will be seen there. There is no God to wearing the garland. It means that the Lord is there in the form of space. How can you capture a Lord spread over the space ?
You are enabled to worship the Lord in the form of space. Of the Panchabudha holy places, Chidambaram represents space. Hence Chidambaram is known as Akasha sthala.
The place derived its name as it was surrounded by a forest of Thillai trees. But presently these trees are not to be seen here in Chidamabaram but are available in Pichavaram, east of Chidambaram in backwaters. A model tree made of stone is installed in the Thirumoolattanakoil on the western side Prakara of the temple.
Chit + Ambaram meaning Konowledge + Space. This is Wisdom Soil. It is here the palm leaves containing the hymns of the Great Saivite Three were unearthed. The Chozha King and Nambiandar Nambi prayed to the Pollappillayar (Lord Vinayaka) and found that the Thevaram hyms are hidden in Thillai with the Mudras (signatures) of the author saints.
The King and Nambigal reached Thillai, celebrated a festival and began collecting the palm leaves. To their great shock, a large number of the leaves were found destroyed by the ants. However, they picked up the clean ones and edited them as Thirumuraigal which are available to the Bhakthi World today.
Thillai or Chidambaram belongs to the Space among the Panchbudha Sthalas. It is here, the Bhakthi World got back the Thevaram hymns. It is here the Great Saint Nandanar stepped into the Fire Pit (Agni Gundam) to see the Lotus Feet of Lord Shiva. Saints Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar entered this temple through the four gates of the Towers. Gnansambandar worshipped from the southern side, Thirunavukkarasar from the west and Sundarar from the north and Manickavasagar from the east.
In Thillai – Chidambaram, Thirunavukkarasar rolled around the car streets chanting the names of the Lord. He made the daughter of the Buddha King speak who was dumb. There are five Sabhas in the Temple – Chittrambalam, Ponnambalam, Peramabalam, Nrudha Sabha, Rajadha Sabha. Devotees can have the dharsan of both Shiva and Vishnu from the same place. There are Sannidhis for Brahmma, Vishnu and Rudra. The temple is spread over a spacious area of 51 acres. An outstanding example of Temple architecture of ancient Tamilnadu.
General Information: Chidamabaram is 50 kilometers far from Cuddalore. Private lodges are available for accommodation, charges ranging from Rs. 200 to 600. Bus conveniences are available. The temple is situated in the heart of Chidambaram. Nearest railway station is Chidambaram and airport Trichy.
10 days of Margazhi Arudra – Thiruvathirai – festival is the important festival in Chidambaram. The flag hoisting takes place a day in advance of Arudra star day. The festival is dedicated to Manickavasagar. During the festival days, during the Deeparadhana time, Manickavasagar (idol) is brought before Lord Shiva. Thiruvembavai Hymns are chanted. On the final day after the farewell festival to the Lord placing in his Yadashthan, a similar Puja is performed to Manickavasagar also.
Aani Thirumanjanam ( 10 days festival): The flag is hoisted 10 days in advance of the Ani Uthira Star, the first day festival begins and till the 8th festival on the 8th day, the Gods, Somaskandar, Sivanandanayaki, Vinayaka, Subramanaya, Chandeswarar are taken in procession on Gold and Silver Vahanas. Lord Nataraja offers theertha from Sivagangai on Chithirai new year day, Thiruvadhirai day, Amavasaya days, Pradosham days and almost all the days in the year as many of the days are holy days here. All Saivite saints had praised the lord in their hymns. Arunagirinathar had praised the Muruga in the temple.
The presiding deity in the temple is known by many names – Moolattaneswarar, Sabhanayakar, Koothaperuman, Vidangar, Meruvidangar, Dakshinameru Vidangar, Ponnambalakoothan. Goddess is known as Sivakamasundari. Sivaganga, Paramanandakoopam. Vyakrapatha Theertham, Anantha theertham, Nagaseri, Brahmma theertham, Shivapriyai, Pulimedu, Kuyya theertham and Thiruparkadal are the holy theerthams in Chidambaram.
Madhyandhinar, a relative of Sage Vasishta had a son named Maadyandhina. Vasishta advised Madhyandhina to take his son to the Thillai forests and worship the Swayambu Linga there to gain enlightenment. Muni Madhyantha followed the advice.
Madhyantha picked up the flowers before sunrise to perform the pujas in time and without delay and also to prevent the bees sucking the honey in the flowers rendering them unfit for pujas. The Muni submitted his difficulties to the Lord. The Lord, responding to the problems of the Muni granted him legs as that of a tiger to facilitate easy climbing of the trees and vision that would penetrate through darkness.. The Lord granted the Muni a new name Vyakrapadha, meaning tiger legged and having tiger hands. Vyakrapadha was very happy and performed his pujas and penance peacefully.