Information

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple Rituals | Chidambara Rahasya

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple Rituals:

The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.

The Deekshithars were supposed to be 3000 ( 2999 actually, with the Lord totaling 3000 ) and were called the Tillai Moovayaram. Today they number around 360. These Deekshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Deekshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.

In general, every married male member of the Deekshithar family gets a turn to perform the rituals at the temple and can serve as the chief priest for the day. Married Deekshithars have also entitled to a share of the temple’s revenue.

The day begins with the Chief priest of the day, performing required rituals to purify himself and assume the Shivoham bhava, after which he enters the temple to do the daily rituals. The day begins with the Lord’s footwear (padukas) being brought at 7:00 am from the Palliyarai (or bedroom) to the sanctum sanctorum in a palanquin accompanied by devotees with cymbals and chimes and drums. The Priest then begins by performing the daily rituals with a yagna and a ‘ Go puja (worship of a cow and her calf).

Worship (Pooja) is done 6 times a day. Before each pooja, the Spadika linga (Crystal linga) – the ‘aru uruva’ or the semi-form state of Lord Shiva is anointed with ghee, milk, curds, rice, sandal paste and holy ash. This is followed by presenting the neivedhyam or offering of freshly prepared food and sweets to the Lord and the deeparaadhana, a ritual of showing varied and decoratively set lamps, the reciting of Vedas in Sanskrit and the Panchapuranam (a set of 5 poems from a set of 12 works in Tamil – called the panniru thirumurai). The pooja ends with the priest parting the curtains of the sanctum sanctorum to reveal the Chidambara Rahasyam.

Before the 2nd pooja, apart from the regular anointing of the crystal linga, a ruby Nataraja deity (the Rathinasabhapathy) is also anointed. The 3rd pooja is at around 12.00 noon, after which the temple closes until around 4:30 pm. The 4th pooja is performed at 6.00 PM, the 5th at 8:00 PM and the last pooja of the day is performed at 10:00 pm, after which the Lord’s footwear is taken in a procession for Him to ‘retire’ for the night. Before the 5th pooja at night, the priest performs special rituals at the Chidambara Rahasya, where he anointed the yantra with aromatic substances and offers ‘neivedhyam’.

The last pooja called the Arthajaama pooja in Chidambaram is done with special fervor. It is believed that the entire divine force of the universe retires into the Lord when he retires for the night.

Chidambara Ragasiyam/Rahasyam:

Chidambara Ragasiyam (Tamil for “secret of Chidambaram”) is a Hindu belief that there is a secret message conveyed through the embossed figure near the shrine of Shiva in Chidambaram temple.

Since ancient times, it is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva and Parvathi are present but are invisible to the naked eyes of normal people. In the Chidambaram temple of Lord Nataraja, Chidambara Ragasiyam is hidden by a curtain (Maya). Darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam is possible only when priests open the curtain (or Maya) for special poojas. People who are privileged to have a darshan of Chidambara Ragasiyam can merely see golden vilva leaves (Aegle Marmelos) signifying the presence of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in front of them. It is also believed that devout saints can see the Gods in their physical form, but no such cases have been officially reported.

The phrase “Chidambara Ragasiyam” really means something different. The phrase literally means a secret associated with Chidambaram – the place. Behind this is a real meaning to a secret. As described above there is a particular curtain kind of curtain which when removed enables us to view the secret. The real significance of doing so is that when the curtain which is “Maya” is removed one can see his real self. And the seeing of oneself removing the curtain of Maya is viewing the secret. According to legend, “Chidambara Ragasiyam” will never be revealed as it is the secret relating to a particular person who sees it removing the screen of “maya”. In the temple, when the poojas are performed and the screen is removed, one will be able to see the secret only when he applies this to his mind and soul.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment