''Nellaiappar temple'' (dedicated to Shiva) Car festival held last week after a gap of two years

Nellaiappar Chariot festival, Thirunelveli,TN thehindu.com

Nellaiappar Chariot festival, Thirunelveli,TN  commons.wikimedia.org

The annual temple Car festival of Nellaiappar Kovil is a popular one and was held last week. Nellaiappar-Kanthimathi  Ambal temple dedicated to God Shiva is a sprawling temple full of amazing stone sculpture of various sizes and is famous for musical pillars and big mantaps (halls).It is built on a 14 and half acre of land on the banks of Tambirabharani. It was   built much earlier than 7th century sung in glory by Saivite saints Nayanmars and it is an important  Paadal Petra Sthalam.

After a gap of two years, the chariot festival was conducted at Nellaiappar Temple on last Monday and thousands of devotees thronged the temple to witness the chariot procession. This festival is a deep rooted and traditional one as far as this temple of great antiquity is concerned. The temple chariot is said to be the third largest one in Tamil Nadu, the first being Thiruvarur  Azhi Ther and the second one -Chariot belonging to Sarangapani Perumal Temple, Kumbakonam.

Nellaiappar temple, Thirunelveli, TN commons.wikimedia.org/

Chariot pulling or Therrotam  is an integral part of temple festival in which thousands of devotees participate with devotion and pull the chariot. Particularly   the month of Adi -June-July is an auspicious one and many Hindu festivals take place during this month. 

As for the Nellaiappar car festival, "this 'aani perumtherottom' (the chariot procession) that had been carried out for decades around this time of the year,  was not held for two consecutive years. Reason;   COVID -19 Pandemic and  restrictions by the state government.to avoid crowds that would throng festival events.  

Nellaiappar temple Prakara (Corridor),Thirunelveli.flicker.com

This year the therottam - running of the car was held with great enthusiasm and the huge Ther - well decorated chariot that began the long journey around 9.30 am was  pulled all along the four Ratha streets including Pilliyar kovil Mukku, Lala Chatram,etc  round the Nellaiappar temple amidst  a sea of humanities. The  huge chariot with a tall canopy experienced a minor glitch during the procession and after an hour of repair work  it  began rolling down the street The chariot finally reached the destination  on East Ratha street between Ammbal  and Swami Sannidhis in the afternoon. .

As it has been the wont, the festival was held in the presence of senior government officials including the HR & CE  and along with other devotees many of them pulled the huge rope tied to the front of the chariot. 

The festival event began  as per Agama Sastras on July 3, after the customary flag-hoisting on the temple premises and  the officials lost no time to make  elaborate  arrangements to welcome thousands of devotees from across the State.  " More than 1,000 police personnel were on duty at various places including the temple for security reasons  and to avoid untoward incidents that may be created by anti-social or a section of atheist group. During the festive days daily mangala Abisheham and deepa Aarathana was held for the goddess and there was a religious procession on the streets around the temple.