subramaniya swamy / senthilandavar temple , thiruchendur
praised in tamil hymns as thirucheeralaivaai , thiruchendur is a town on the shore of bay of bengal in tuticorin district of tamir nadu. thiruchendur houses one of the most visited and famous temples of tamir nadu , sri senthilandavar temple. it is the second of the six abodes of murugan called arupadaiveedu.
thiruchendur is well connected to rest of tamir nadu by trains and buses.
an asura by name surapadma was ruling veera mahendrapuri, an island fortress. he performed many austerities invoking lord shiva and the lord granted him many boons. later, the asura became arrogant and captured all the three worlds—the heaven, earth and the hell. he made the devas, the heavenly immortals to do menial task. the devas were unable to bear his torture and complained to lord shiva.
lord shiva opened his third eye to create a son to kill surapadma. six sparks of fire emanated from the third eye. these divine sparks were received by river ganges through agni, the god of fire and passed on to the himalayan lake, saravana poigai. here they were transformed into six babies.
these babies were suckled by the six kirithika nymphs. lord shiva and goddess parvathi devi came to saravana poigai, and when goddess uma fondly clasped the babies they joined together to become lord arumuga with six faces and twelve arms. when child arumuga grew up to become a young boy, lord shiva asked him to destroy surapadma and free the devas from their cruel bondage.
lord muruga reached tiruchendur with his huge army and camped. he sent his lieutenant, veerabahu to the asuras as an emissary and asked surapadma to release the devas. since surapadma turned down the request, a war ensued.
an intense battle was fought for a few days. during the first five days of the war, the brothers of surapadma and all other asuras perished. on the sixth day, in the battle between lord muruga and surapadma,
the lance of lord muruga pierced the body of surapadma, who got himself transformed into a frightful mango tree, and broke it into two.
the broken pieces instantly transformed themselves into a mighty peacock and a cock. lord muruga took the peacock as his vahana/vehicle and the cock on his banner. this event is popularly known as surasamharam, or the destruction of surapadman.
after surasamharam, lord muruga desired to worship his father, lord shiva. hence mayan, the divine architect constructed this shrine at tiruchendur. even now lord subramaniyan is seen in the posture of worshiping lord shiva in the sanctum sanctorum.
this is celebrated on a grand scale during the kandha sashti festival lasting 6 days.
dutch occupation of the thiruchendur temple
the murugan temple at thiruchendur was occupied by the dutch east india company from 1646 to 1648, during the course of their war with the portuguese. the local people tried to free their temple, with no success. the dutch finally vacated the temple on orders from the naik ruler. however, while leaving, they removed the idol of the main deity of the temple, and took it with them.
while they were sailing away, they encountered a strong storm and realised their mistake of stealing the idol. they dropped the idol in the middle of the sea and seen the storm stopped immediately.
later, lord senthil aandavan appeared in a dream to vadamaliyappa pillai, an ardent devotee of lord muruga, and revealed the place in the sea where the idol had been abandoned. vadamlaiyappa pillai and athitha nadar, a sponsor of services in the thiruchendur temple, went to the spot in a fishing boat and retrieved the idol in 1653. the story is shown in paintings inside the temple
the shivan inside the temple ( as all murugan temples are constructed as shivan temples ) is called jayanthi nathar meaning the god that gives victory. some people argue that the root word for ‘senthil’ is ‘jayanthi’ , but needs discussion.
there is a well a few meters from the ocean called ‘
naari kinaru’ . surprisingly the water here is drinkable. devotees take shower in the ocean and then in the well before they enter the temple.
the temple is also visited by shaivaite saints and appears in the list of temples called thevara vaipu thalam.
last but not least , thiruchendur is a venerated ‘guru sthalam’ with senthilandavar blessing devotees to help get rid of doshas that may arise out of weak guru in their horoscope.