Thygaraja Swamy's unique processional dance at Thiruvarur - ''Ajapa thanam'' - a brief note

Thyagaraja temple, Thiruvarur, TN

Utchava moorthies. Thygaraja swamy and his consort.

The Thygaraja temple of Tiruvaruri n Tamil Nadu, a 9th century temple dedicated to God Shiva  has many interesting and rare  features. This temple once followed countless temple rituals  particularly during the time of Kulothunga Cholan a II (1133–50 CE) -  as many as 56 rituals.   

That Lord Shiva (Thiyagaraja)'s cosmic dance is famous at Chidambaram temple, is a well known one. But her,e the temple is famous for  the ajapa thanam (dance without chanting); god himself executes this move. 

Location Thiruvarur.

 Once Chola king Mucukunta  as part of his boon wanted to receive an  image of Thyagarjaswamy (God Shiva) reposing on the chest of God Vishnu in the anantha sayanam posture (reclining) from Demi God Indira, god of rain. Indira  played a trick on him by showing other images of the lord.  however, the Chola king being smart and passionate about God Shiva,  chose the right one  for  Thiruvarur. The other six images were installed in Thirukkuvalai, Nagapattinam, Tirukarayil, Tirukolili, Thirukkuvalai and Tirumaraikadu. All these places are in the Delta region of the Cauvery and here when the processional deity is carried physically a particular dance style of that temple is enacted by the bearers of the god's idol. . 

The tradition has been that while taken in a procession, all  Thyagaraja images are said to dance in a particular  fashion. .In reality the bearers of the Uttachava deity do the dancing and it is a deliberate one simulating the dance of Shiva.   These dance styles are called  Saptha Vidangam (seven dance moves)  and are unique to this temple and other temples in the delta  region mentioned above. 

The 7 styles styles depict various gestures and each style goes by different names. :   

01. Dancing without chanting - resembling the dance of Sri Thyagaraja on the chest of  Lord Vishnu: Tiruvarur Thyagarajar Temple.  As mentioned earlier, this style  is  called Ajabathaanam.

02. Dancing  of an intoxicated person:  Dharbaranyeswarar Temple.

03.  Dancing with the gait of a swan: Vedaranyeswarar Temple.

04. Dancing like a bee that hovers over a flower:  Brahmapureeswarar Temple. 

05. Dancing like a cock: Kannayariamudayar Temple.

06. Dancing like waves of sea: Kayarohanaswamy Temple.

07. Dancing like a lotus  that moves in a breeze:  Vaimoornaathar Temple.

The processional dance styles mentioned above  are being followed at the respective temples   associated with Thiruvarur temple.,_Tiruvarur