Abode for Siva languishes
The front Gopuram of Sri Mangalambigai temple ...
A CHOZHA period temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, known as Rishabapureeswarar or Rishabanathar and Goddess Mangalambigai, is languishing for public patronage, is at Melsevur, near Gingee in Villupuram district.
The temple was built in 928 A.D. by Paranthaka Chozha I, who covered the vimanam of the sanctum sanctorum of the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram with gold.
The inscriptions found in the compound walls of the temple show that Paranthaka Chozha, started the construction of the temple, which was continued by Rajarajakesari Varman. Rajaraja Sambuvarayar gifted lands and Rajendra Chozha and Kulothungan I also made many gifts during their reign.
The temple had a five-tier Rajagopuram in the past but as it got dilapidated, a three-tier tower was built in its place.
As one passes through the tower, he can see the Mahamandapam and the 60-pillared Mandapam, which contain many sculptures depicting the Puranic episodes. The temple, situated on the banks of the Sankarabarani river, also contains Balipeedam, Adhikara Nandi, shrines for Vinayaka, Muruga with Valli and Deivanai as well as the four Saivite saints. There are also shrines for Sahasralingam, Kasi Viswanthar, and Navagrahas.
The Goddess, known as Mangalambigai, is offered special poojas and a big festival is conducted on Adi Fridays and She is housed in a separate shrine on the left side facing south. When there were heavy floods in the Sankarabharani river She blocked them with Her feet and so She is held in great veneration. An offering of poems was made to the Goddess by a saint, Veeramalai Swamigal, but only 11 songs are available now and they have been rendered by vocalist, S. Sowmya, in the form of cassette and CD.
According to legend the place was known as Aavur and Vidaiyoor in times of yore. Chandikeswarar, who was cursed by Sage Durvasa, was born as Kamala Munivar and worshipped the Sivalingam here. But it was covered by an anthill later and Nandikeswarar tried to remove it with his hoof. Blood oozed from the Lingam and it was washed by Ganga who flowed as Sankarabarani river. Goddess Mangalambigai, also known as Gunasamvardhini, emerged from the sacrificial pit and married the Lord known as Rishabanathar.
The temple, well maintained by the Chettiars of Pondicherry, according to a copper plate, is agog with activity on Fridays in the month of Adi. Today evening the goddess will be adorned with silver armour.
The festivities extend up to late in the night. Melsevur can be reached by buses plying from Vallam to Kongarapattu and there is a town bus service from Gingee.
T. A. SRINIVASAN
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