Largest green emerald Nataraja idol of Mangalanatha Swamy temple, Ramanathapuram, TN and worship protocol

Sri Mangalanathaswamy temple, TN India. Emerald idol,

main tower. Sri Mangalanathaswamy 

Mangalanatha Swamy temple, dedicated to God Shaiva near Ramanathapuram town in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu is a famous pilgrimage center glorified by  Tamil Saivite saints  Manickavasagar  (9th century CE) and  Arunagirinathar  (15th century). The primary builders of this temple were Pandya kings, Achutappa Nayak (1529–1542 CE), Muthuveerappar (a ruler in Thanjavur district)  including rulers of Ramanathapuram ruling dynasty at different time. But the temple itself is much older. 

The temple is closely associated with the  rebirth of Tamil  poet and saint  Manickavasgar  in his later birth. He was the one who had built the famous Avudaiyar temple in Pudukkotai district where there are no idols of Shiva and his consort in the sanctums (garbagriha). 

01. Among the various shrines in this temple primary ones are those of Mangalanathar, Mangalambigai and Natarajar.  Of particular interest is the idol of Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. Unique specialty about this tall idol of 6 ft (1.8 m) size is it is made out of  a single emerald  mineral (maragatha Nataraja idol), a rare one of this kind, considering its size.

02. The Emerald idol of dancing Nataraja is believed to be the largest in the world. 

03. The temple authorities take special care to guard this priceless maragatha idol which has  deep green color. It is guarded in a safe vault with heavy doors, grill gates and burglar alarm. 

04. Further,  the idol is  carefully set in such a way, there is no way the  the intruders  can take it out without  getting it damaged. 

05. The thieves and robbers in this part have an eye on this expensive  big emerald idol, so the security people are on alert all the time. 

06. In  December 2018 two thieves made an attempt to  lay their hands on the precious idol after scaling high compound walls around the walls; but their attempt ended in fiasco.

07.  Further, the idol is set in such a way the intruders cannot take it out without breaking it. ay their hands on the 

08.This idol is   anointed with sandal paste round the year except on Tiruvathidirai festival day when special worship is done.  

09. During puja time,  percussion instruments that produce resonating sound are not permitted to play near the shrine where the emerald idol is kept. The sound  or sonic vibrations might damage the precious idol.

10. The temple follows a unique worship protocol.  The long-held  temple tradition  has been that  as part  worship  the  priests  read the Veda texts  to the accompaniment of  nagaswaram (wind instrument) music ( a bit away from the shrine).  

11. Once  the puja is over  devotees participating  in the  the prayer/puja prostrate toward  the main deity  in front of the temple mast or Dwajsthambam

12. The agnithertham is famous because it was in the Temple tank all 999 saints  except one  (in the following birth Manickavasagar) refused to jump into the fire ball to save the Vedas. 

13. The main hall before the sanctum has 999 ligams made of Padigam (spatika; pure transparent quartz)  and are anointed with cooked rice every afternoon during puja. The hall is called   Sahasralinga  mantabam.

14. In almost  in  all Shiva temples Thazhambu  (screw-pine flower) is not used for puja.  Contrary to the tradition, it is  still used  here for worship 

The annual Tiruvathidirai festival in December is the most famous one here. The temple located 32 km East from Paramakkudi and 17 km west from Ramanathapuram  is  being managed by the the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board (HR & CE) of the Government of Tamil Nadu.