7 Powerful Kapaleeswarar Temple Facts That You Need to Know
Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a very important and powerful temple of lord Shiva located in Mylapore, Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The word “Kapaalam” means “Head” in Tamil and “Eshwar” refers to lord Shiva. The wife of lord Shiva, goddess Parvati is workshipped at this temple. The goddess is called as Karpagambal. It means the goddess who has wish yielding tree.
Car ceremony of Kapaleeswarar Temple
During the car festival, Lord Sri Kapaleeshwarar of Kapaleeswarar temple is depicted holding a bow while seated on a throne, with his consort Sri Karpagambal and all 63 Nayanmar idols follow the Kapaleeshwarar idol on this procession. It is a grand occasion turns the entire atmosphere of Mylapore in to a festive one.
The ceremonies in Kapaleeshwarar Temple are conducted in accordance with Agamic practices (Rituals and Liturgy) by competent Shivacharyas (Priests). Though in the midst of a modern city, this ancient temple represents truly the culture and traditions of Tamilnadu.
The vahanas (Sanskrit for “vehicles”) at the temple include the bull, Adhikaranandi, elephant, bandicoot, peacock, goat and parrot, while a golden chariot is a recent addition. Statues of the god and the goddess are seated on a vahana or chariot which is brought in a procession around the temple while the temple band plays music.
Kapaleeswarar Temple Panguni Festival
Devotees gather around the vahanas and consider it a privilege to pull / lift the God and the Goddess on the vahana. There is also a peacock and a peahen caged inside the temple, to symbolize the tradition that Karpagambal had come in the form of peahen to plead to Kapaleeshwarar.
The temple priests perform pooja on a daily basis. Most of the priests of this temple, belongs to traditional Shaivaite community. They are carefully chosen to perform rituals to Lord Shiva.
The temple performs 6 rituals a day.Ushathkalam at 6:00 a.m., Kalasanthi at 9:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 1:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 5:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 9:00 p.m.
There is a separate calendar for the Rahu Abhishekam (sacred ablution): it is performed twice in a day at 11:30 a.m and 5:30 p.m. and additionally twice at various times in the day.
Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal. The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.
There are weekly rituals like somavaram and sukravaram, fortnightly rituals like pradosham and monthly festivals like amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi. During Friday worship, the statue of the goddess Karpagambal is decorated with a kaasu maala, a garland made of gold coins.
History of Kapaleeswarar Temple
#1. The temple was built during the 7th century CE reflecting the architecture of Dravidian culture. The goddess Shakthi worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of peacock. In Tamil, peacock means “Mayil”. Hence, the surrounding area that was built around this temple is called Mylapore. “Ooru” means place or town, etc. That is how Mylapore got its name. The lord Shiva is represented in the form Lingam. The temple is widely mentioned in our puranas by nayanars.
#2. The lord vinayaka in this temple is worshipped as Nardana Vinayaka which means dancing vinayaka. The original temple was demolished by the Portuguese invaders and the present temple was built in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar Kings. The current masonry structure was built during the Vijayanagar rulers of the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE). The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
#3. Lord Muruga is worshipped as Singaravela, poet arunagirinathar has recited many hymns in his Tirupugazh.Due to a curse Goddess Parvati is in the form of a peacock and did penance in Mylapore to get back to her original form. She worshipped the Lingam (Lord Punnaivana Naathar) under the Punnai tree (Sthala Vriksham of Kapaleeshwarar temple). The Saivite Saints (Nayanmars) Thiru Jnana Sambandar and Tirunavukkarasar (Appar) have sung about this Shrine in their hymns.
#4. Panguni Thiruvizha is the most important festival of Kapaleeswarar Temple. The 63 (Arubathi Moovar) Thiruvizha / Brahmotsavam is a significant annual festival in Mylapore falls in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April). It is a 10 day festival named after the 63 Nayanmars (63 Nayanars / Saivite Saints) who have attained salvation by their devotion to Supreme God Lord Shiva.
#5. Thirugnanasambandar makes a reference in his 6th song in Poompavaipathikam about Kapaleeswarar Temple. And Arunagirinathar’s 697th song in Thirumylai Thirupugazh, make clear reference to the Kapaleeswarar temple being located on the seashore in Mylapore.
#6. Kapaleeswarar temple has two entrances on either side.The east gopuram is about 40 m high, while the smaller western gopuram faces the sacred tank (“Kulam”)
#7. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and four yearly festivals on its calendar.
Kapaleeshwar Temple is located approximately 8 kms. from Chennai Central Railway Station and 18 kms. from Chennai International Airport. There are many best vegetarian restaurants around the temple complex. Some of the noticeable restaurants are Sangeetha Veg Restaurant, Geethanjali Vegetarian Restaurant, Gomathi Mess, Mylai Karpagambal Mess, Vasanta Bhavan, Rayar Mess, The Grand Sweets And Snacks, Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Isha Life Mahamudra Restaurant etc.