Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai, Tamilnadu, India is a treasure of Dravidian architecture and is widely popular all over India, as a heritage Temple, dating back 2500 years in history. You will find the temple is built according to Agama Sastra (the Hindu mythology for building temples) and is followed as the fore-runner for other temples in Tamilnadu.
Devotees who visit this temple from various parts of India and foreigners (6,000 visitors daily and more on festival days) may not know the importance of other deities, apart from Meenakshi Amman (Goddess Parvathi) and Sundareswarar (Lord Siva). You will do well to know this, so that next time you enter Meenakshi Temple, it will help in a more enlightened enjoyment of the features of this divine place.
There are innumerable smaller deities inside and here are the selected few:
When you enter the temple through the Southern Rajagopuram (entrance tower 170 ft. height), you see first on your right side, Vibhudi Vinayagar (also known as Vigneswarar; Pillayar; Ganesha and Ganapathy) immersed in holy-ash (produced by burning process of cow-dung). You will find people worshipping the 2 feet idol and pouring the holy ash brought by them on the statue.
This is because Vinayagar is believed as the foremost deity to worship on any beginning, so that everything will be completed well without any hindrance or obstacle. Kids are fond of this elephant-faced deity and every Hindu family will have a small idol of Vinayagar in their Pooja room.
There is another Jumbo size Pillayar (when you go from Meenakshi Amman sanctum to Sundarewarar sanctum) called Mukkuruni Vinayagar (some 12 feet in the sitting posture). Kuruni is a measure and Mukkuruni is three measures - of rice-flour used to produce the offer of Mothagam (sort of boiled cake) to this deity and so the name. People have ardent belief in him to smash any trouble faced by them.
When you come around (always clockwise) the inside corridor of Lord Sundareswarar, you will find on your left side, the sanctum of Goddess Saraswathi. She is believed to grant every talent in arts and education to her devotees. Each Friday a group of learners perform Veena (a musical instrument of strings) recital before her.
Just exactly opposite side, you will find Dakshinamurthy (Lord Siva teaching saints under a banyan tree), the deity one has to worship for Wisdom and Knowledge. In all Shiva Temples on the southern corridor, Dakshinamurthy (Dakshina = South) will be found invariably.
While going farther round the corridor and turning on the eastern side, you reach the sanctum of Mahalakshmi (the divine consort of Lord Vishnu), who is the Goddess for all wealth and treasure in human life. Here also you will find a lot of ladies crowd on Friday (considered more auspicious) worshipping Mahalakshmi.
Coming out to the second corridor, you will find the Navagraha Sannadhi (sanctum) where all the 9 planets of the universe will be there as Hindu Gods – Sun (Suryan); Moon (Chandran); Neptune (Guru); Saturn (Sani); Mars (Sevvaai); Mercury (Budhan); Venus (Sukran); North Lunar Node (Rahu) and South Lunar Node (Ketu) – Rahu and Ketu are Asuras, but after getting the Nectar stealthily, they have also become equal to other planetary-Gods.
Hindus strongly believe that these 9 Gods influence every up and down in life. So all the devotees go round here 9 times, before coming out of Meenakshi Temple.
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