Thanjavur Big Temple - this year's chariot run (Therottam) is on the first of May

Thanjavur car festival Hinduism Today

In Thanjavur city, Tamil nadu  where the smart city projects have been going on for some time,  the annual ‘Chithirai’ festival of Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple (Big Temple) is a  popular and long drawn event that will last for 18 days. The festival  commenced  with customary flag-hoisting on the temple premises. The pundits -Sivacharya chanted the mantras in the presence of selected officials and devotees and reverentially raised the holy temple flag on the dwajasthambam  which is in front of the Nandi mantap (built by the Nayaks of Thanjavur).  Earlier, a special puja and abhishekam were performed to Peruvudaiyar (Shiva) in the Garbhagriha. 

As part of  the Chithirai festival the  annual  therottam/ temple rath yatra  is scheduled to take place on the first of come May. 

 Flag-hoisting big temple Thanjavur

Work on the decoration  of the canopy over the wooden base has already began in the place where the chariot is stationed near the Ther mantap. on West main street.

Big temple chariot first run 2015 1st

first run big temple chariot 2015 ist

Thermutti mantap, west main st. thanjavur

Ther(Chariot) mantap, West main st. Thanjavur.

Above images. The Chariot mantap (Thermutti) is right  across Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt office, West Main street, Thanjavur - the main venue of annual ther festival;  The big temple chariot is stationed permanently in the plastic-acrylic glass covered shed to protect the decorated wooden base from dust and vandalism..  The TMC in the recent past has recovered many  Ther (Chariot) mantaps built by the Marathas  on all four main streets and  structurally they were very much similar to the one partially visible in the images above. The one at Samanthan kulam lane and East main street once looked like the mantap shown in the picture..These  dome shaped mantaps  look more or less like Chhatris of Rajasthan (Umbrella shaped domes.................................

The decorated idols (uchavanurthis) of Sri Thyagarajar his consort and other were  brought to the ‘vasantha mandapam’ from his ‘yathasthanam’ on April 25 evening and then to the wooden car stationed on the West Raja Veedhi at dawn on May 1 for the car festival. After certain puja rituals the ther will be pulled by hundreds of devotees all along the four main Raja Veethis  and the ther will be stopped at certain pre-planned places for the benefits of devotees. 

The idols of Sri Thyagarajar and other deities will be brought back to the temple. As for Sri Thyagarajar idol, it will be taken back to the  his ‘yatha sthanam ’(sanctum of the panchaloha idol) on May 3 morning.

The culmination of this festival is on the 4th of April and the event called  ‘theerthavari’ will be at the Sivagangai tank in the Big Temple complex that also covers the Sivaganga park. It is to be noted that for several centuries Sivaganga tank has been used for the theerthavari 'ritual  associated with the big temple. This event will be followed by the lowering of the holy flag marking the end of  the festival.

It is recorded that during the Tanjore Maratha period in 1776 and later in 1813, Big temple therottam took place and the heavy chariot was pulled forward by thousands of devotees, The big temple chariot festival of Chithirai, a legacy of Chola,  Nayak and Maratha  reign in this part of present day Tamil  Nadu is a memorable one and the tradition continues though there are breaks in the middle. Called  Uttama- Mahotsava,  it was a 17-day grand  event during the Chola period.