Srivilliputhur Andal temple (Tamil Nadu) chariot and rath yatra 2022

1868  Srivilliputhur temple chariot, TN

Above image: It is the photo of a huge chariot (Ratha) of Srivilliputhur temple, Tamil Nadu  taken way back in 1868 when India was under the  British crown administration. Apparently it was a replacement for he one donated by ruler Thirumalai Nayak.Look at the huge  base of the wooden chariot with nice carvings of themes from the epics Mahabharat and Ramayana, The height of the reinforced wooden  wheels is more than 6ft. The huge flat base of the decorated wooden chariot will carry the idols (Utchavars) and   colorful cloth canopy, strings of festoons, flowers, etc., and the wooden horses, etc will be  later fastened to it. A ratha is almost  like a moving temple. The chariot festival has been around for centuries in India. This  annual important festival is mentioned in many old religious text books -  the Rig and Atharvana Vedas,  Shatapatha Brahmana, Padma, Skanda, and  Bhavishya purana. Tamil scholar Malayaman says, “Sangam work Porunaratrupadai talks of ‘kottil seida kodingi nedunther,’ ‘kottil’ indicating that wood was the material used. Tamil literature even names the parts of chariots - therkudam for the hub of the wheels, therkodungai for the roof, therkoombu for the pinnacle and so on.” King Bhoja (10th century C.E.) talks of streets that are broad enough to allow easy passage of military chariots.  The rath yatra is a religious and cultural ethos across India. ..............   

Andal temple Chariot festival, Srivilliputhur, TN.

At Srivilliputhur Andal-Rangamaar temple, Aadipuram festival (July August) -  a vibrant 10 day  annual event is taking place  now and it is a joyous celebration of the birth of Sri Andal (Goddess Lakshmi) ; Andal Jayanthi  in Aadipooraa nakshatra (as per Tamil Calendar).  A large number of devotees regard her as an incarnation of  Sakthi Devi  as well.

Chariot festival Andal temple Srivilliputhur

Chariot Andal temple Srivilliputhur

Above image: Srivilliputhur Andal temple chariot photo taken in 1940. It appears the wooden base was not in good shape awaiting repair work. A jerry-rigged cover is put on the wooden base to safeguard the wooden carvings. ........................

The highlight of the event is  Chariot event (Aadipoor Therottan) that is to be held on the first of August (Aadipooram date). At Sri Villiputhur the car festival had been taking place for more than 162 years; consecutively for the past 29 years since 1985.  

On completion of early morning  special pujas -  ninth day celebrations “Ekantha Thirumanchanam” will begin at the temple in the early morning  and  priests will perform special pujas and aradhanas.  After the rituals are over   the urchavars (processional idols) of the presiding deity Andal (goddess Lakshmi) and Rengamannar (Sri Vishnu) will be taken in a palanquin to  the specially decked-up ratha amidst chanting of “Govinda…Gopala…” by the devotees. 

The huge  decorated chariot with well-fixed  canopy, festoons, etc  over it will begin the  yatra - journey  in the morning roughly between 7 to 8 am  and  will be pulled by hundreds of devotees with dedication and Bhakti  all along the four Ratha streets around the temple. While the huge ratha is  wending its way through four streets  ardent  devotees chanting of  Azhwar pasurams will be accompanying the chariot. The Yatra will end at the temple back before  early afternoon. The Therotam takes place after a gap of two long years due to covid-19 threats and lakhs of devotees in Virdhunagar district and other places are looking forward to this  awe-inspiring moment either to hold the giant rope to pull the chariot or watch the giant ratha trundling along the four Ratha streets.

The Srivilliputhur car

The Andal temple chariot used to be  heavy  above 600 tons and  40 m tall long long ago. As the  wooden  chariot, donated by Madurai Naik  ruler Thirumalai Naicker, was damaged,  at the initiative of  Sri Ranganarayana Jeer, the 19th head of Vanamamalai  mutt (a monastic institution),  new chariot was made.

After some gap, the ratha (chariot)  had  its maiden run in 1849 C.E.  This is the same ratha that is being used today for the Therottam.  It is 75 ft in height and is as tall as a nine - story building. ''The panels and woodwork from the old chariot can be seen in the Gopala Vilasa mandapam in the temple.''

I understand that hydraulic braking system is provided to stop the huge rath then and there. The car connected to the giant ropes at both sides will be easily  pulled by the devotees and can be stopped with ease without causing anxiety . Besides, heavy bulldozer or heavy-duty tractors will be used from behind the car to push the rath forward.  

As to the origin of this temple, it is subject to debate, however there are  temple  inscriptions from Chola, Pandya and Nayak  period, - 10th to 16th centuries.  With respect to the  original structure, it was built  by Tribuvana Chakravarthy Konerinmai Kondan Kulasekaran and the Andal temple by Barathi Rayar.

Sri Andal temple, Srivilliputhur,


Andal temple, perumal in sayanakolam with

Above image  Today 30th July is Sayana Utsavam in Srivilliputtur Andal Temple. Sri Rangammannar on Sayana Thirukolam (on Sri Andal Lap). Devotees had   blessings of Sri Andal &  Sri Rangamannar (