Agnipureeswarar Temple, Thirupugalur
Agnipureeswarar Temple (அக்கினிபுரீஸ்வரர் கோயில், திருப்புகலூர்)(also called Thirupugalur temple) in Thirupugalur, a village in Nagapattinam district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Constructed in the Tamil style of architecture, the temple is believed to have been built during the Cholas period in the 10th century. Shiva is worshipped as Agnipureeswarar and his consort Parvathi as Karundar Kuzhali.
|Deity||Agnipureeswarar(Shiva) Karundar Kuzhali, Shoolikambal(Parvathi)|
The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanmars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple has a five-tiered Rajagopurams, the gateway tower.
The temple is open from 6 am - 12 pm and 4-8:30 pm on all days except during new moon days when it is open the full day. Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the ten-day Vaikasipournami Brahmotsavam festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May - June) and float festival for Agnipureeswarar during the Tamil month of Vaikasi being the most prominent festivals. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The exact history of the temple could not determined based on the inscriptions evidence, but the temple is believed to have been built during the Chola period during the 10th-11th centuries.
As per Hindu legend and the Sthalapurana, Shiva was worshipped by Agni, the fire god at this place and the presiding deity came to be known as Agnipureeswarar and the temple tank is called Agni theertham. As per another legend, Bhudevi, the consort of Vishnu wanted to install a Linga and worship Shiva. Banasura, her son, is believed to have dug the Linga at the place, but could not lift it. The lingam in the place is believed to appear tilted (called Konapiran) on account of it. Shiva was pleased with the devotion of Bhudevi and appeared in his dancing form in front of her. It is also believed to be the place where Shiva turned bricks into gold for the Nayanar Sundarar.
The temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram, the gateway tower facing east and an inner three tier gopuram. The temple is surrounded by a moat like tank and the major portion of the tank is called Agni theertham located in front of the gateway tower. The sanctum is approached through the gateway tower, flagpost, a mahamandapam and an arthamandapam. The Mahamandapam houses the images of Agni, Brahma and saint Appar. The bronze idol of Agni is one of its kind, not present anywhere in the state. The image has two heads and sported with three legs. The sanctum houses the image of Agnipureeswarar in the form of Lingam, a phallic symbol of Shiva. The Linga is tilted indicating a legend that Shiva offered to bend for his devotees.
There is another shrine of Shiva called Vardhamaneeswarar, in the name of Tiruppugalur Vardhamaneswaram located adjacent to the sanctum and the image of Muruga Nayanar is located opposite to the sactum. It is counted as another Paadal Petra Sthalam as it is also glorified in the verses of Tevaram. There is a separate shrine of Karundarkuzhi, the consort of Shiva, sported in standing posture in a South facing shrine. The inner precinct of the temple houses the image of the sixty three nayanmar, Agni, Panchalinga, Appar, Vatapi Ganapathy, Subramanya, Sanisvara, Annapurani, Mahalakshmi and Kalasamhara, while the outer precinct has the images of Chintamanisvara, Vinayaga and the Linga worshipped by sage Bharatvaja.
Religious importance and festivalsEdit
Appar, a 7th-century Tamil Saivite poet, venerated Agnipureeswarar in ten verses in Tevaram, compiled as the Third Tirumurai. As the temple is revered in Tevaram, it is classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam, one of the 275 temples that find mention in the Saiva canon. Sambandar, a contemporary of Sundarar has glorified Agnipureeswarar in ten verses and it is counted as one of the 275 temples. The temple is believed to be the place where Appar spent his last days before proceeding to Kailasam. The event of Appar reaching Kailasam is celebrated in the temple annually.
The temple priests perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. The temple rituals are performed three times a day; Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 a.m. and Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m. Each ritual comprises four steps: abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for Agnipureeswarar and Gnanambigai. Unlike other shiva temples, anointing with oil is not performed in the temple. There are weekly rituals like somavaram (Monday) and sukravaram (Friday), fortnightly rituals like pradosham, and monthly festivals like amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi. Brahmotsavam during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May - June) is the most important festivals of the temple.
- ta:திருப்புகலூர் அக்கினிபுரீசுவரர் கோயில்
- Rao, A.V. Shankara Narayana (2012). Temples of Tamil Nadu. Vasan Publications. p. 218. ISBN 9788184681123.
- R., Dr. Vijayalakshmy (2001). An introduction to religion and Philosophy - Tévarám and Tivviyappirapantam (1st ed.). Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies. pp. 345–46.
- Sridhar, Lalitha (6 August 2004). "Magic on the waters". Business Line. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
- "Sri Agnipureeswarar temple". Dinamalar. 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
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