Tirumaal-Azhaghi sametha Sri Damodara Perumal koil- Damal
Damal is a village near Kanchipuram which is very close to Tiruputtkuzhi on the Chennai Bangalore Highway. A bus ride from Kanchipuram will take about half an hour. We travelled by two-wheeler from Varadaraja Perumal koil and reached the place in approximately one hour. The roads were good and the ride was smooth and the road signs are clear. We entered Damal village and went to our cousin’s house. She is a retired postal employee and winner of the President’s Postal Meghdhoot award. She motivated the women of her village and encouraged them to save money. She still lives there in a thatched house close to Damodara Perumal koil. As is the case of most agraharams very few brahmin families live there and it is only during utsavams that former residents congregate and offer their thanks to their village deity.
The former residents of Damal remember their Damodara and Tirumalazhaghi as is evident from the temple maintenance. The plus point for this temple is the presence of totally dedicated bhattars (priests).
As we move towards the temple we notice a couple of cars parked outside and neatly painted red and white compound walls of a temple. There is a grey-painted iron gate flanked by Garudazhwars on either side and a board saying Tirumalazhaghi sametha Damodaraperumal koil Damal.
As we enter we see to our left a ‘Thadeearadhanai mandapam’ Then there is a canopy with Garuda on one end Hanuman at the other. We see thirty verses of Tiruppavai on yellow boards to our left with plants growing below and a big picture of Tirumaalazhaghi amidst green foliage to our right. At the end of the corridor there is a statue of Damodaran. We all know the story of Krishna being tied to a mortar by Yashoda. This is why He is called Damodaran. Temples to Damodaran are not many and this Damodaran has given His name to the village itself. According to the sthala puranam this temple belonged to the Madhava community who gave the temple as daanam to srivaishnavas so the village was called ‘Danamallapuram’ which got shortened to Damal.
We then climbed a flight of steps to see Damodara who is with chathurbhujam holding Shanku, chakram and has Varadahastham that is with palms open and the other arm on His Hip. He is not in crawling posture then why is He called Damodara? The priest explains that the stretch marks left by the rope are visible and have been seen by the aradhakars. Even as we are thinking we have no bhaghiam to see this the priest lifted Damodara’s veshti a little to reveal His Feet fitted with a sparkling silver ‘kolusu’ (anklet). He explains that devotees pray for offspring and Damodara blesses them with kids they offer an anklet to Him . Those Feet are hard to forget.
The utsavar is also Damodaran and Mandhasmitha Paarijathan. We then had darsan of Thayar Tirumaalazhaghi or Vishnusundari whose kataksham is evident from the prosperity of the temple. We saw Garuda and Seshavahanam in the premises.
There is a sannidhi for Andal and the constellation of azhwars along with Visvaksenar looked fresh in their sparkling white veshtis and bright tirumans and their names and tirunakshatrams are neatly displayed.
We then did pradakshinam and saw the sthalavriksham-vilvam and land earmarked for a nandavanam. There was a Krishna standing in the middle of a pond and there was a special sannidhi for Hanuman. There were too many hoardings and statues which made the place a little cluttered but each item around is an offering by a devotee and has to be appreciated. The overall feeling after the temple visit was satisfying because the former residents have not forgotten their Damodaran and are visiting the place periodically but it would be nice if retired people make this place their home and live in the company of Damodara who is ready to give anything they ask.
Writeup: Vyjayanthi Rajan