Thursday, July 24, 2008


Thirukadaiyur is the place to which many people go to celebrate the fact that they have lived through life for 60 or 80 years; but there is a catch - you can only celebrate if your spouse is alive and the second, you have to be a male.
I don't think females get to celebrate their birthdays so publicly.

In these days, it may not be so remarkable to live healthily and happily for 60 years, still its an occasion to rejoice. So last weekend found us in Thirukadaiyur, happily celebrating Umanna's birthday. There were about 20 other people too celebrating their Sashtiyaptha Poorthi though one 80 year old doing the Shathabishekam had to be revived later.

Its very festive with an elephant who comes and welcomes and escorts each couple into the temple. He must be pretty dizzy by the end of the day . Then there is a is a pretty looking cow and calf doing the blessings. These are commonly shared by all the family groups gathered and sometimes, the nadaswaram troupe is shared too.

The temple is large, ancient and black with the fumes of the large number of homams going on everyday. The sanctums are dark, the stones depressed with the imprint of thousands of feet, all surfaces possible carry a layer of vibhuti or kumkum, traces of flowers and oil and puja debris are everywhere . There is a fantastic sense of good cheer in the temple because its all about rejoicing -just being alive.The floors are decorated with huge painted colourful kolams reflected in the very colourful and detailed gopurams.

The puja is remarkably easy to arrange with package deals now including food (good and cheap) laid on nearby; hotel rooms line the road to the temple and lots of other temples to visit in surrounding areas.

The temple deifies Markendeya who put his belief in his Lord Siva , and clung to the lingam at Thirukaidyoor resolutely when Yama came to collect him once his 16 years were up. Shiva killed Yama and blessed Markendeya with eternal youth. But of course later he forgave Yama, so Yama now guards the temple.

Another special deity is of Kalla Varanappillayar. When the devas were churning the milky ocean , they came up with amrutam.But in their haste, they'd forgotten to pray to Pillaiyar who has to be called first before embarking on any good act. He stole the pot and hid it here. Once appeased , he forgave and handed it over. But the amrutam transformed itself as Shivalingam - thus called 'Amrutagateshwarar'.

The third story is about Goddess Abhirami.
Abirami Bhattar, lived in blind devotion to Goddess Abirami and composed the - "Abirami Anthathi" in her praise. He was branded a lunatic by his critics and they complained to the then King Sarabhoji. Sarabhoji came to the temple and asked Abirami Bhattar "what is the thithi today?" - In deep meditation and looking at the Goddess' moon-face, he replied 'today is pournami (poornima) day" whereas it was actually Amavasya Thithi. Enraged with his answer, the King said "if no moon is sighted today - you will be consigned to flames". A huge fire-ball was erected. Abhirami Bhattar sat on a wooden plank above it and started singing hymns towards Goddess. When he finished, Goddess Abirami threw her ear-stud in the space, which got transformed into a full-moon, lighting the world.

Altogether a very interesting temple and a heartwarming occasion.

How to Get there!
We got to Thirukadaiyur by traveling to Kumbakonam by a fast train and then cabbing it from there - it took about 90 minutes.
Mayiladutharai (22 km) and Seergazhi (30 km)are large towns nearby.
Besides, Nagapatinam and Chidambaram to which there are a large number of bus services.
The nearest airport is at Trichy .



Nice feeling to participate in special birthdays.

Regarding women not celebrating birthdays publicly - a reluctance to admit their age?

For the record, my 60th birthday was celebrated by my sons - the last time it was celebrated was when I was one!

kallu said...

Wonderful Raji that your sons did celebrate your birthday. Someone did wake up before it was too late.
Next bday you must throw your own bday party for your special friends.

We keep waiting around for other people to do things for us and it never happens. Or to late.
Lets just celebrate being alive and ourselves.

Indrani said...

Very interesting!
'How to get there?' could be an useful information in the post, if I may suggest. :)

kallu said...

Indrani, no problems. Im glad someone is interested enough to ask :-)

Indrani said...

Thanks Kalyani!

Sandhya said...

You can reach there only by bus as the train services are not available.

From Chennai you have following options to reach thirukadayur
1) Take a bus to Mayavaram/Velankanni. Those buses stop there
Rathimeena travels and Universel travels have bus services in that route
2) Book a maxi cab if you are a group of 20 people. That would be cheaper
The route is Chennai - Pondicherry - Cuddalore - CHidambaram - Sirkazhi - Thirukadayur along the east coast road.
Distance is little less than 300kms from chennai.
Travel time - 6 -7 hrs approx

Contact details for temple arrangements: Amirthakadeshwara gurukkal
Sannathi street , thirukadayur - 609311

04364 - 287516, 287646, 287474

Radha said...

Hi Ladies,
thank you so much for so much of information. We are planing for our mother's 60th birthday on Nov 12th. Since all are in different places we were a bit worried whether we'll be able to do this or not as it not only involves the arrangement for the function but also our ticket bookings, leaves, etc.,We find your post very handy and once again we thank you all for such a timely help.

Sudha (Sriram), Radha (Subash), Vidhya (Yagnesh) and Shubbu (vidya) and Shradhdha and Gaythri

kallu said...

Wow, Radha and Co. I am really thrilled that this post/blog was of practical use to someone.
If you want the address of the pujari whom we used; I could dig it up for you. You contact him and he makes all the arrangements - puja/food etc.
There are also adresses of similar services right there on the Net too.
Have a great time and best wishes to your Mother

Karthik Narayan said...

thanks for the valuable inputs. I need to take my dad later this year to this place :)

kallu said...

Karthik, very pleasantly surprised to see that you found your way here .. the post is almost a year old.
Hope it was useful and you have a good time there with family.

Lucky said...

Hi I am lakshmi from USA.This is the first time seeing your blog very very useful.My father is turning 60 in this novembner and need to plan for the sashtiapthaboorthy. All 4 of us are in different countries. So need to do everything by phone. Your information is so so good with the phone # too.Thank you so much

kallu said...

Lucky, really really glad that this information is of use to someone. I hope the phone number works. All the very best for the sashitapthboorthy

Arthy said...

Hi Kalyani,

Really hopeing some information about the gurukkal's contacts will be of use. Iam planning to do the 60th B'day celebrations for my father at Tirukadaiyur. Did find a lot of Gurukkal's numbers on the net, but not sure if am hitting upon the genuine one. They seem to be asking for some advance fund transfer. Can you pass on some genuine contacts, if you have? Thanks so much,

kalyani said...

sorry Arthi right now I do not have any contact nos. I think you will just have to trust your gut feeling with one of them. Or you may find someone else who has contacts. Best wishes for the function

Venkat said...


you can visit the site and get more information. Also you can contact the no given in that site and they arrange everything from staying to food, pooja for a reasonable fee

Venkat said...

You can visit the site and it seems to have detail information on the temple fully. We contacted the no mentioned in that site and for a nominal service fee they arranged everything right from staying, poojas and food for a nominal service charge which was almost nothing than the money others asked us for my fathers beemaratha santhi

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