On 3rd July 2016, just a day before my husband and I completed eight years of our union in wedlock, we had been blessed enough to offer worship at the Holy temple of Mannikavannar (Rathinagireeswarar), along with our daughters and both our parents, enshrined at the village of Thirumarugal in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. The village of Thirumarugal is named after a species of plantain tree, called Marugal, which is found inside the temple. That particualr variety of plantain tree abounds the entire village as well. Appar, Thiruganasambandhar and Sundarar, the three of the four great Saivaite Saints, have sung in praise of the presiding Deity in their Thevaram hymns. It is believed that the Lord has been enshrined there for epochs together. It was the place where Goddess Mahalakshmi, upon bathing in the temple tank and worshipping Mannikavannar, could ward off the curse that befell on Her for hurting Saint Birghu (Birghu Munivar).
Way back in 7th Century AD, seven-year-old Saint Thirugnanasambandhar had been staying at the temple of Thirumarugal for a while. On a night, during his stay, he came across a young woman, who was sitting crest-fallen beside the dead body of her fiancé. Upon enquiry, Saint Thirugnanasambandhar came to know that she and her dead fiancé hailed from the city of Madurai. She was born into a Chettiar family. Her parents had seven daughters and she was the last amongst the seven. Her dead fiancé was none other than her maternal uncle. Initially, her father agreed to get her eldest sister married to her maternal uncle. But later, her greedy father got her eldest sister married to some other rich business man. Then, he agreed to get his another daughter married to him but again dodged him in the same manner. Ultimately, through false promises, her father got all six of her elder sisters married to other rich business men. She didn’t want her maternal uncle to be cheated by her father any more. Hence, she decided to elope with her maternal uncle.
Since the woman and her dead fiancé didn’t have any proper place to stay, they decided to take shelter that night at the dormitory of the temple of Thirumarugal. They were all set to get married the following day. But, unfortunately, her fiancé lost his life owing to snake bite. Saint Thiruganasambandhar upon hearing the story of the woman, was moved by her plight. He was convinced that though eloping was an act of sheer disobedience to the parents, that woman had a justifiable reason to elope with her fiancé. Hence, he pleaded to Lord Shiva by singing a Thevaram hymn, to retrieve the life of her fiancé. Lord Shiva, who was moved by the plea of Saint Thiruganasambandhar, retrieved the life of the man. Upon retrieving the life of the man, the Lord said to Saint Thiruganasambandhar, that the seven-year-old Saint had become the father of the man, as he was the one who gave him re-birth by pleading to the Lord. He offered him the Divine Instruction of presiding over the marriage of the man and the woman the following day at the temple of Thirumarugal by keeping the temple’s principal tree, named Vanni, as the witness.
The temple has statues of that man and the woman and even today their wedding day is being celebrated every year in the temple as, “Chettipillai Chettipenn Thirumanam”. Also, offering prayers to the Lord of the temple is believed to ward off the evils and/or curses that cause delay in getting married. It is referred to in Tamil as the holy place for obliteraring the obstacles for getting married.
Lord Saturn, who is also enshrined in that temple, was worshipped by Gorakka Sitthar. Lord Saturn is believed to be enshrined there in the most tranquil form of His. Thirumarugal is easily accessible by road from Thiruvaaroor, Kumbakonam and Nagapattinam. Lord Bhairavar at Thirumarugal is believed to be enshrined in the form of 'Ruru Bhairavar', which is one of His eight forms.Saint Thirunavukkarasar in his Thevaram hymn on the presiding Deity has remarked that by hailing and bowing down to the feet of Marugalan (Manikkavannar), we could enhance penance, we could eradicate ignorance, we could reform our wavering mind, we could drink the nectar of supreme happiness!
பெருகலாம் தவம் பேதைமை தீரலாம்
திருகலாகிய சிந்தை திருத்தலாம்
பருகலாம் பரமாயதோர் ஆனந்தம்
மருகலானடி வாழ்த்தி வணங்கிடவே!