Thyagaraja Temple, Thiruvarur - the ''Raa Kaala'' ritual taking the main god to the '''Palli Aarai''

West tower. Thyagaraja Swamy temple, Thiruvarur,

Thyagaraja Swamy temple, Thiruvarur, TN.

At Sri Thygaraja Swamy temple, Thruvarur the night puja ritual (Raa Kaala Puja) wherein the God is retiring to the bed chamber in an interesting one.   The deity is taken to the Palli Aarai  that is located near the sanctum within the temple premises.  Several  Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu have\ time-horned   worship rituals   distinctively unique to them and the temple management as much as possible follows  the rich tradition with dedication without deviating from the  original  process. At the Thruvarur Thygaraja temple, one of the biggest temples  in Tamil Nadu,  with the most number of shrines (sannadhis) and the heaviest  temple chariot in the country, the tradition has it it follows 6 - Kaala Puja/prayer starting from the morning till late night. Of them, the night ritual Raa Kaala puja is a fascinating one. 

Thygaraja Swamy temple, shrines and towers, Thiruvarur.
The strange ritual of preparing the deity for the night's rest is not an elaborate one here. Nor does it involve chanting of mantras; not even special adornment of jewels for the God. But it is done in a manner it  gets the attention of the limited spectators gathered  inside the  mantap (hall) who are mesmerized by this unusual ritual. The processional deity (Utchavar) in the sanctum is taken in a fairly decorated Palanquin that sways gently by the bearers. Here, swaying is deliberate as this temple is famous for   the ajapa thanam (dance without chanting) style of dance.  When the  deity  is  taken in a procession  the bearers do the dancing which comes in 7 different styles, each depicting a particular movement. This dance is unique to this temple.  The destination of the procession  is Palli Aarai (God's bed room) and the god is carried reverentially.   At most temples in particular, Vaishnavite temples  the palli Aarai is normally well decorated and  embellished with   mirrors ,etc  on all sides and it is  located in the mantap (hall) away from the sanctum. The Shiva temples do have decorated bed chamber. for the deities to rest. 

Yoga Kamalambal, Thygaraja temple,

Thiruvarur Thyagaraja Swamy. 

In the Palli Aarai God's consort will be  anxiously waiting for the arrival of God Tyagesa. Once he enters the bed chamber, the doors will be shut gently.. The belief is both the god and the goddess are retired to take  complete rest as they had spent a fatigued day accepting prayers  from the devotees and blessing them all day. When the god is being taken to the bed chamber the ''Ooduvars' 'people trained in old Tamil devotional hymns  will be singing the glory of the main deity and his consort.

Location map. Thiruvarur

Maharajah Shahuji (1684- 1712) - son of Venkoji of the Thanjavur dynasty (Shivaji Maharaj's half brother) was an ardent devotee of Thygaraja,  composed  an Opera in Telugu language called'' Pallaki Seva Prabhandam.''   Scholars are working hard to revive the Opera written in chaste Telugu. The story line is a simple one: The Opera highlights the pain and pangs of separation from the god experienced by the goddess and her uncontrollable longing  for his arrival. The God, on receiving the message from her associates Akhis,  arrives at the bed chamber in a well decorated palanquin with his  retinue. It is a sort of Lullaby sung by  a poet in Madymavati instead of more relaxing  Nilambari  to make the divine couple meet in a relaxing and soothing mood.  The poet appeals to deities - Shiva-Sakthi (Thyagesa and Kamalambal) - 'you take care of king Shahuji.

/Tygaraja temple,

When the final Raa-Kaala puja is over with the closure of the Palli  Aarai leaving the main deity there the temple will be closed after a final Aarti.  As for the celestial deities, it is time for them to relax in a quiet ambiance  and be free from the sea of people who come up with all kinds of demands, wishes, etc. Following morning the deities have to get ready  to resume their duties to listen to the  people and bless them with prosperity and good health. Devotees throng the temple as they repose trust in the almighty to get rid of their worries and fears of survival in this competitive world. They rejuvenate their mind and body seeking the help of the divine powers. Trust is the magic word in meditation and prayer.

Ref:  'Mesmerized by Thyagesa' by Lalitha Sridhar--The Hindu dated 28 Jyly 2017.,_Tiruvarur