Bhu Varaha Swamy temple




Bhu Varaha Swamy temple is a Hindu temple, located at Srimushnam, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is dedicated to Varaha (Bhu Varaha Swamy), the boar-avatar of the god Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi as Ambujavalli Thayar.

The temple had contributions from Medieval Cholas of the 10th century with later expansions by Thanjavur Nayak king Achuthappa Nayak. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all the shrines and the temple tanks. There is a seven-tiered rajagopuram, the temple’s gateway tower.

Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the Chariot festival, celebrated during the Tamil month of Vaikasi (April–May), being the most prominent. The festival also symbolises Hindu-Muslim unity in the region – the flag of the chariot is provided by Muslims; they take offerings from the temple and present to Allah in the mosques. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The temple is one of the few temples where Muslims are allowed to worship till the Ardha Mandapam.
The temple is associated with Varaha, the boar avatar of Vishnu. The demon king Hiranyaksha stole the earth and took it to his realm of the netherworld. The earth-goddess Bhudevi prayed to Vishnu to rescue her. Pleased, Vishnu appeared here in the form of Varaha, a boar, killed the demon. The sweat of the demon king dropped here, creating the temple tank. In his dying wish, the demon king asked Vishnu to turn towards his direction; Vishnu obliged. The central icon faces towards the demon in the South, while his human body faces the devotees in the West. The festival icon, Yagya Varahaswamy, as requested by Bhudevi displays the regular features of Vishnu with his conch and Chakra in his hands. As per another legend, a local Nawab on the county was ailing with Carbuncle and was given up by all the doctors. He is believed to have prayed Bhuvaraha and was cured off all his ailments. He made generous contributions to the temple and was later named Bhura Sahib. Each year the deity is taken to the village when his descendants make offerings to the deity.
The existence of Bhuvaraha Swamy temple during the medieval Chola period is seen from the inscriptions from 11th century. The temple was expanded by Thanjavur Nayak king Achuthappa Nayak (1560 – 1614 AD). The life size image of the king and his brothers are found in the sixteen pillared hall of the temple. An epigraph dated 1068 in the nearby Shiva temples indicates gifts by Virarajendra Chola (1063–1070 AD) to the Varaha shrine. Another inscription dated at 1100 by Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120) indicates a gift of a village to the temple, where the presiding deity is referred as Varaha Azhwar. The later inscriptions are from Vijayanagara kings of the 16th century like Virupaksha Raya II (1465-85 AD) dated 1471 AD, Sriranga I (1572–86), Venkata II (1586 – 1614) indicating various gifts to the temple. The most notable contributions of the temple were from Achuthappa Nayak (1560 – 1614 AD) who built the sixteen pilla red Purushasuktha Mandapa along with other smaller shrines of the temple. The Zamindars of Udayarpalayam have contributed to the temple by offering costly jewels and commissioned additional structures, notably Udayavar Mandapam.

Festivals :

The temple follows the traditions of the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite tradition and follows vaikanasa aagama. The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day: Ushathkalam at 7 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 8:30 p.m. Each ritual has three steps: alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Sri Bhuvaraha Swamy Perumal and Sri Ambujavalli Thayar. During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple.

Some of the festivals of the temple has been practiced during the Nayak times as indicated by the inscriptions on the walls of the first precinct. The inscriptions indicate patronage for the festivals to be conducted during the presence of Sun in 12 zodiac signs during various months of the year. The usage of processional vehicles during this occasion is also prescribed. The temple follows Pancharatra mode of worship. There are two Brahmotsavams celebrated in the temple, one each during the Tamil month of Masi and other during the month of Chittirai (April -May). During the first, the festival deity of Bhu Varaha Swamy is taken for seven days around the villages of Srimushnam. The chariot festival is a symbol of Hindu – Muslim unity in the region, with the flag of the temple chariot offered by the local Muslims. They also accept the offerings from the festival deity and present it to Allah in the mosques. The Muslim devotees thank Allah to have brought Bhu Varaha Swamy to their place. The other festivals are Sri Jayanti Utsavam during Aavani, Navaratri, Vijayadasami, Deepavali and Makara Sankranti. The temple is one of the few temples where Muslims are allowed to worship till the Ardha Mandapam.
The temple is considered one of the eight Sywayambu Kshetras of Vishnu where presiding deity is believed to have manifested on its own. Seven other temples in the line are Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, and Vanamamalai Perumal Temple in South India and Saligrama, Naimisaranya, Pushkar and Badrinath Temple in North India. Divine ablution is performed daily for the presiding deity, unlike other Vishnu temples where it is performed only occasionally. In the Bhu Varaha temple in Tirumala, devotees are supposed to visit after they worship the Tirumala temple, but in Srimushnam, devotees visit the Srinivas temple in the western entrance before visiting Bhu Varaha Swamy. The temple is frequented by childless couple seeking children and unmarried people seeking marriage. The local belief is that the worship done to Saptha Kannigaigal in the temple leads to right match. The temple is counted as Abhibana Stalas, the temples that are closer to the heart of Vishnu.

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