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60th Birthday and Other Ayul Homams at Thirukadaiyur

Shastiapthapoorthi at Thirukadaiyur


Most of the temples are known either by the name of the Lord or his Consort. For Example, Madurai reminds us Lordess Meenakshi, Chidambaram for Lord Natarajar, Kancheepuram for Lordess Kamakshi Amman and so on.  However, there are a few temples that are well-known for the Lord and his Consort and Thirukkadaiyur is one among them. The Abirami Samedha Amirthakadeshwarar  Temple in Thirukadaiyur is associated with the legends of Markandeyar and Abirami Battar.

It is a grand temple with 5 Prakarams, imposing towers and ornate Mandapams covering an area of 11 acres. Based on the inscriptions seen here, it is inferred that the stone base of the central shrine was in existence even during period of Raja Raja Cholan (early 11th century). It was during the period of Kulottunga Chola I (1075 - 1120) that the brick walls of the temple were replaced with stonewalls and the Mandapam in the front was constructed. The Rajagopuram is replete with images made of mortar, depicting the legends associated with the temple.


Markandeya, son of sage Mrikandu Magarishi was predicted to live for only 16 years. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped Lord Amirthakadeshwarar in Thirukadaiyur bringing the water from Ganges through an underground passage to the temple. This passage is still in existence but closed. On that particular day, Yama (Yaksha) appeared with his noose, Kaala Paasa. Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Shiva Lingam. The Lord warned Yama not to touch Markandeya as he was under his protection. Yama did not listen and threw the noose that bound Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by this act of rashness, the Lord kicked him with the left leg and held him under his left foot, making him inactive.

Images in the temple depict the Lord with a raised forefinger, warning Yama. The mark of the Kaala Paasa is visible on the Lingam. With Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth. As nature should have its way, Kalasamharamoorthi (Kala + Samharam + Moorthi), the other name by which Lord Amirthakadeshwarar is known - Lord Shiva brought Death to life. It is here that the significance of 'kicking with the left leg' is spoken about. Had He desired to quell Yama forever, he would have held him under his right leg - as in the case of Muyalaka. The very fact that he used his left leg points to the fact that he intended it as a punishment for an act of rashness and not otherwise.

Since Death was conquered at Thirukadaiyur, it is not unusual to see couples who have celebrated their Shasthiapthapoorthi (completion of 60 years), Bhimaradha Shanthi (completion of 69 years) and Sadabishekam (completion of 79 years) make it a point to have a darshan of the Kala-samhara-moorthi.


Abirami Battar lived during the rule of King Serfoji (Sarabhoji). He was completely devoted to the consort of Lord Amirthakadeshwarar and Lordess Abirami. He would sit in meditation and in the blissful state of trance for hours - sometimes days - together in the presence of the Mother.

King Serfoji, who had visited the temple, saw this temple priest, who was lost in himself and did not even stand up as an elementary mark of respect to the King. Abirami Battar was at that moment meditating and was immersed in the vision of the luminous visage of the Divine Mother Abirami. The king was annoyed with Battar for not showing the respects due to him and enquired about him with the persons standing close by. Unfortunately, Abirami Battar did not get positive feedback.

The King then approached Abirami Battar and asked him for the Thithi (lunar day) of that day. It was new moon day. Since the mind of Abirami Battar was filled with the luminescent vision of Abirami, he - even without opening his eyes - said that it was full moon day.

The King was angered by this answer and he thought that he had a clue to the 'true bearings' of this fraud. 'If there is no full moon rising this evening,' he warned Battar, 'you will be put to death.' Abirami Battar was told what had happened only after he opened his eyes after a long time, from his meditation. Poetry, evocative, moving and having the power to melt the hearts of all, flowed from him right from that moment. He sang a hundred verses in praise of Abirami. The verses are known as Abirami Andhadhi, a unique kind of poetry that begins with the last foot - or a portion of it - of the previous verse. And the last foot of the last verse would end with the first foot of the first line of first verse. Abirami  took her ear ring and threw it in the sky. That shone in the sky brighter than the full moon.

King Serfoji realised the greatness of Abirami Battar. Despite the refusal of battar, he had documented his command on copper plates to donate one-hundredth part of his revenue from all villages to him and his successors. The copper plate is still in possession of the successors of Abirami Battar.

There are three temple tanks - Theertham - known as 'Amritha Pushkarini', 'Kaala Theertham' and 'Maarkandeya Theertham'.

The worship services are offered six times a day in the temple. Almost every day dawns with one celebration or other, as hundreds of pilgrims throng the temple to celebrate their 60th, 70th, 80th birthdays and other Ayul Shanthi Parihara Homams.