Aazhi Ther, Asia's biggest Ratha - the Therottam festival in Thiruvarur, TN went off well this year -2024

Aazhi ther, Asia's biggest Ratha, Thiruvarur, TN i.ytimg.com

Thiruvarur, the capital of Thiruvarur district (formerly part of composite Delta District of Thanjavur) is synonymous with three cultural aspects;

01. The famous Sri Thyagarajaswamy Temple along with one of the largest temple tanks in India  Kamalalayam in the prime area of the town, 

02. The 96 ft tall Aazhi Ther (base of wooden ther (with 400 wooden carvings) is about 66 ft; rest consists of 92 decorative features weighing  about 50 ton).  The length of the giant rope (Vada Kayaru) attached to the base of the ratha is about one kilometer and weighs 15 ton Asia's largest ratha and Aazhi therottam festival that falls in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April)bin Ayelyam nakshatra 

03. The birth place of Carnatic music composers Sri Thygaraja swamigal (Thyaga Brahmam), Shyama Sastry and Muthusamy Dikshithar (Trinity of Carnatic Music).

Thiruvarur Aazhi ther, wooden basetripadvisor.com

This year the popular Aazhi Ther festival went off well on March 21, attended by Thousands of devotees. The festivities began on Feb 27 with customary temple flag -hoisting on the temple premises in the morning. 

Thousands of devotees from far and near participated in the  Aazhi Ther festival and a large number of devotees took part in pulling the huge rope attached to the 350 ton Ratham on which were mounted the processional idols of  Sri Thyagaraja, his consort Parvati and Sri Chandikeswarar.  It was a day long  arduous religious procession around the four  wide and well laid ''Mada Veedhis'' (streets). The wooden ther was so heavy it was pushed from behind by heavy duty bulldozers and to stop it at certain places it  is provided with special hydraulic break system. It was a day of religious fervor and gaiety with the 'Chants of “Aaroora, Thyagesa” by the devotees and the sound of “Siva Vadhyam.”  Two  other wooden temple cars carrying the idols of Lord Vinayaga and Lord Murugan  pulled  by the devotees preceded the Aazhi Ther. .

This unique and popular annual festival   has been around for centuries and it is the cultural legacy of this town.  Documentary evidences available in the Saraswathi Mahal library, Thanjavur city  confirm  that this Ther  festival  had been held  continuously since 1748 CE  till the middle of 20th century (vide the Modi scripts in Marathi language  of the Thanjavur Mahratta Ruler Shahaji (1684-1712 CE)..

After traditional puja and Aarthi, the Therottam with long procession began at 9 am (on March 21) on East Veedhi and then through the South, West and North Veedhis before being docked at its shed   again in the evening near the temple. It is the only Ther in Tamil Nau glorified in the  ''Thirumaura'' divotional songs. 

The festival was taken place in the presence of Velakuruchi Aadheenam, Sri La Sri Sathyagna Mahadeva Desikar, Kattalai Thambiran of Rajan Kattalai along with senior District officials. As usual the state police provided proper security arragement during the festivities. ,