Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sugandha Vaneswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Sameebavalli|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Periya Nachiyar Koil|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||9 to 12.30 & 1 to 5||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Perichi Koil||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (21 km)||Pudukkottai (53 km)|
|Madurai (72 km)||Sivaganga (76 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Once there was a merchant of Madurai, who was already married. But the prevalent custom at the time meant he could also take another wife. His uncle, who lived in this region, had therefore asked the merchant to marry his (the uncle’s) daughter. The couple were to get married at this place, but the night before the wedding, the merchant died of a snakebite. At the time, Sambandar was visiting this temple, and hearing the woeful cries of the bride, made inquiries. Upon learning what had transpired, he sang a pathigam imploring Siva here to bring the groom back to life, which the Lord did. Immediately, Sambandar presided over a wedding where the merchant and his bride were married off, with the vanni tree, temple well and the Siva Lingam as witness. Afterwards, the merchant and his new bride returned to Madurai, where the merchant’s first wife spewed hatred at the new girl, going so far as to suggest that no marriage had taken place at all. The bride fervently prayed to Siva, who made the three witnesses (the vanni tree, temple well, and Siva Lingam) appear in Madurai, and so demonstrating the truth. (This story, which is regarded as one of the 64 Tiruvilaiyadals of Siva, is quite similar to the sthala puranam of the Satchinathar temple at Tiruppurambiyam near Kumbakonam.)
There are two stories on why this place is called Perichiyur. According to one version, in ancient times, this place was called Perichiyur. Going by the other version, the name of this place was originally Periya Nachiyar Koil (possibly named for Velu Nachiyar, the queen of Sivaganga who fought the British) – this named evolved into Periya Nachi Koil, and then into Perichi Koil.
The original temple here is said to be beyond the known realms of time. The first structural temple here was built about 1400 years ago, during the Pandya period. Then in the 13th century, the reigning Pandya king Maravarman Sundara Pandyan worshipped here, and effected a renovation of this temple. There are two versions to this. One is that he was affected by the 7½ year spell of Sani, and built the temple as a form of prayer for relief. The other is that he won a battle, and was contemplating building a temple for Siva, when the Lord appeared in a dream and directed him to this place.
This place is said to have been a forest of fragrant kadamba flowers and trees, and therefore went by the names Kadamba Vanam and Sugandha Vanam. Accordingly, Siva is named Sugandha Vaneswarar here. Another name for the moolavar here is Andapillai Nayanar. Amman is regarded as a friend of the devotees, and is believed to be always close to them, and so She is named Sameebavalli (sameebam = close / near).
But the temple is more famous for the Navapashana Bhairavar and Othai Saneeswaran here.
This is regarded as one of the eight foremost Ashta Bhairavar temples, and the Bhairavar here is said to be the form of Kala Bhairavar at Kasi. Bhairavar worship at this temple is therefore carried out with special fervour, and as with all temples where Bhairavar is worshipped, thei-pirai Ashtami (the 8th day after a full moon, ie in the waning phase) is particularly important, even more so in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December). This is because that is the day on which Siva is said to have taken the form of Bhairavar.
Bogar Siddhar is said to have crafted three murtis out of navapashanam (a mixture of nine herbs). These are the Murugan as Baladandayudhapani at Palani, Murugan as Kuzhandai Velappar at Poombarai near Kodaikanal, and the Kasi Bhairavar at this temple.
The general form of Bhairavar here is very similar to Murugan as Baladandayudhapani at Palani, depicted holding a spear. This shrine for Bhairavar is separate, with its own vimanam, which is unusual, but also implies the prominence of Bhairavar at this temple.
Bhairavar is also depicted on the rear of this murti. Bhairavar once cured Saneeswaran of the latter’s rheumatism, and so is regarded as Sani’s Guru. Sani is alone in a separate shrine (and hence called Othai Saneeswaran) under a Vanni tree (which is quite rare), facing his Guru, which is regarded as special.
Bhairavar is depicted with eight arms, each holding a weapon, and wearing a garland of skulls. One of the hands also holds a head dripping with blood, which is being lapped up by His mount, the dog.
The Bhairavar here is said to be so powerful, that water used for His abhishekam, and the vada-malai that is offered to Him, are not distributed to devotees. The water flows outside through a separate channel, and the vada malai is cast away on the roof of the shrine, which, interestingly, even crows do not eat.
This is a prarthana sthalam for getting rid of all types of illnesses, and for obtaining mental and physical strength.
Other information for your visit
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.
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