Sannidhis in Azhwar Prakaram
As we move by the side of Chakrathazhwar sannidhi and the nandavanam which is usually kept locked we reach the sannidhi of Nammazhwar. Nammazhwar at Kanchi is unique because the divya mangala vigraham of Maraan his hand touching his heart. Nammazhwar asks his heart to worship Him. The first decad of Tiruvaymozhi is dedicated to Varadan though He is not mentioned by Name. Nammazhwar begs The Lord to give him darsanam on Garuda and Varadan fulfils this wish by having Garuda Sevai on Nammazhwar’s tirunakshatram and by passing through this sannidhi before leaving in purappadu and visits his sannidhi at night.The Utsavar divyamangala vigraham is different too because we have Nammazhwar in the middle seated with his hand touching his heart flanked by Nathamuni on one side and Madhurakaviazhwar on the other. Every Vishakam special satrumurai takes place at this sannidhi.
As we move clockwise we find a muddy path leading to the West Gopuram. The western Gopuram is bigger than the Eastern one and a small wicket gate is open at times. On our left hand side we see a pond of water under a peepul tree. This goes by the name ‘Pottramarai kulam’ which could be maintained better. As we turn backwards and reach the pradakshinam path and move along we have a sannidhi for Manavala Mamunigal. Every Moolam special satrumurai takes place and Varadan visits this sannidhi on Tula Moolam the Tirunakshatram of swami.
As we move along clockwise we have Bhaghavadh Bashyakarar Sannidhi. We have the divyamangala vigrahams of Bhaghavadh Bashyakarar Moolavar and Utsavar as also Poigai, Bhutham, Pey, (The first azhwars) Tirumazhisai, Tondaradipodi Periazhwar with Andal and Kulasekar azhwar, Tiruppanazhwar and Tirumangaiazhwar with Kumudavalli. Among acharyas we have Aalavandar, Ramanujacharya and Kurath azhwar in this sannidhi. Monthly tirunakshatrams of azhwars and acharyas take place and yearly tirunakshatrams are a grand affair with Varadan attending the Tirunakshatram of each and every azhwar and acharyan. Tirukacchi nambi sannidhi is on Tirukachi nambi street close to Kulasekharazhwar sannidhi and not inside the temple premises. As we move along in pradakshinam we reach Swami Desikan sannidhi.
Swami Desikan Sannadhi
We have to climb a flight of steps to reach swami Desikan sannidhi where we have swami Desikan as also Thatha Desikan and Ammangaru. The platform infront of the sannidhi is where Veda parayanam is done daily at about 5.00p.m. This is where the vahanams are kept in readiness during Brahmotsavam. This is from where Varadan’s purappadu starts with a ‘kullukal'(shake). Sravanam is celebrated in the evenings every month as also Anusham. Purattasi Sravanam Swami Desikan Tirunakshatram special satrumurai takes place. Karthigai Anusham Thatha Desikan Sattrumurai takes place. Every time Varadan or Thayar leave in purappadu They stop first at this sannidhi to accept offerings and give maryadhai to swami Desikan. When Perumal or Thayar reach this spot during purappadu a loud cracker is burst and this is where the Veda Parayanam is started.
The sthambham (pillar or mast) where the Garuda Flag is hoisted during Brahmotsavam is known as ‘The Dwajha Sthambam’. This is the spot where prostrations should be offered before entering the temple. Usually swami Desikan’s ‘yen uyir thandhu allithavarrai’ listing our guru parampara in a single verse is to be chanted. Before the dwajhasthambam we have the ‘bali peedam’ on a cemented platform. There is a flight of steps to reach this spot where bali offerings are made by the temple priests during puja times. There is a ‘Deepa sthambam’ where probably oil lamps where lit before electric lamps came into existence. As we look up there are beautifully painted deities at the top of the temple entrance called Tondaradipodi. Sriman Narayana in standing and sitting postures along with Lakshmi can be seen at the bottom of a small white gopuram with five kalasams flanked by Garudas. As we enter the temple precincts we reach Tondaradipodi.
After crossing the dwajha sthambham we find a corridor which goes by the name Tondaradipodi. Tondar means devotees adi is steps and podi is a corrupted form of padi. In short the ‘pada dooli'(dust from the feet of Bhaghavathas) of every entrant to the temple is found here so it is a hallowed spot. As we enter there is infront of us a wooden cupboard which houses a mirror and the doors are opened when Perumal/Thayar return after purappadu. We have dwarapalakas on either side at a height. This is the spot where Perumal/Thayar are offered ghata harathi, karpoora harathi and vethilai-paku fruit offerings on their return to the temple after purappadu. While the Veda Parayanam is on after completion of purappadu near the dwajha sthambam devotees rush inside to occupy vantage points to see harathi.
After crossing Tondaradipodi we have a big pillared mandapam and a stage which has steps on both sides. There is a corrugated door painted blue which is the entrance to the ‘kanadi-arai’ or ‘mirror -room’. Two dwarapalas stand guard at the entrance. It is a delight to see multiple images of Perumal/Thayar in the parallel mirrors. The ‘kanadi-arai’ is where Varadan and His Consorts stay during utsavams and it is at the mandapam outside that ‘Tirumanjanam’ takes place. Whenever there is a purappadu on the consecutive day Perumal stays here.
Photos & Videos: Sundararajan
Write-up Vyjayanthi Rajan
To be continued