Neelamegha Perumal Temple
|Neela Megha Perumal Temple|
View of the temple and the temple tank
|Primary deity||Neela Meghar(Vishnu)|
|Temple tank||Gajendra, Kapila|
|Architectural styles||Dravidian architecture|
Neela Megha Perumal Temple or Sowriraja Perumal Temple in Thirukannapuram, a village in the outskirts of Nagapattinam in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Neelamegha Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Tirukannapura Nayagi.
A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines and three of its seven bodies of water. The temple has a seven-tiered rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower and a huge temple tank in front of it. The temple is believed to have been built by the Cholas, with later additions from the Thanjavur Nayaks.
Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the chariot festival, celebrated during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March–April), is the most prominent. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The temple has a 7-tier rajagopuram about 100 ft (30 m) and a vast temple complex measuring 1.25 acres (0.51 ha). The complex measures 316 ft (96 m) from East to West and 210 ft (64 m) from North to South. The second gateway tower, approached from the main gateway, measures 60 ft (18 m). The image of the presiding deity, Neela Meghar, is housed in the sanctum, which is approached through the gateways and the Mahamandapa. The sanctum also houses the image of Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side of Neelameghar, Dandaka Maharishi and Garuda. The metal image of the festival deity, Sowriraja Perumal, is also housed in the sanctum, with four consorts namely Sridevi, Bhudevi, Padmini and Andal. There are also metal images of Santhana Krishnar and Chakrathaazhwar. The temple tank is situated right opposite to the temple.
|Pancha Kannan Temples|
|Loganatha Perumal Temple||Thirukannangudi|
|Gajendra Varadha Temple||Kabisthalam|
|Neelamegha Perumal Temple||Thirukannapuram|
|Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple||Thirukannamangai|
|Ulagalantha Perumal Temple||Thirukkovilur|
The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Periyazhvar, Andal, Kulasekaraazhvaar, Nammazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar. The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. The temple is next only to Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in terms of number of hymns dedicated to the presiding deity in Nayalyira Divya Prabandam. The temple is also mentioned in 108 Tirupathi Anthathi by Divya Kavi Pillai Perumal Aiyangar. A work by T.S. Rajagopalan on Tirukannapuram glorifies the features of the temple.
This temple is one of the Panchakanna (Krishnaranya) Kshetrams and considered the foremost among the five temples. Kannan refers to Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, while pancha means five and Kshetrams refers to holy places. Four of the five temples are situated in Chola Nadu, in modern times, in the region surrounding Kumbakonam and Nagapattinam and one of them in Nadu Nadu. There are five similar temples located in North India, called Pancha-dvarakas. Krishna is not the presiding deity in any of the temples. The processional deity, Krishna, led to the derivation of the names of these places..
Festivals and religious practices
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis based on Vaiksana Agama. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day: Ushathkalam at 7 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual has three steps: alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Neelamegha Perumal and Tirukannapura Nayagi. During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple.
- M., Rajagopalan (1993). 15 Vaishnava Temples of Tamil Nadu. Chennai, India: Govindaswamy Printers. pp. 57–65.
- "Sri Neelamegha Perumal Temple". Dinamalar. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
- T., Padmaja (2002). Temples of Kr̥ṣṇa in South India: history, art, and traditions in Tamil Nadu. New Delhi: Shakti Malik. pp. 93–94. ISBN 81-7017-398-1.