Chidambaram Temple Lord Nataraja's Daily rituals
The temple is managed and administered hereditarily by the Chidambaram Dikshitar – a class of Vaideeka Brahmins whom, legends say, were brought here, from Mt. Kailas, by Saint Patanjali, specifically for the performance of the daily rituals and maintenance of the Chidambaram temple.
The Dikshithars were supposed to be 3000 ( 2999 actually, with the Lord totaling 3000 ) and were called the Tillai Moovayiram. Today they number around 360. These Dikshithars follow the Vedic rituals, unlike the Sivachariyars or Adhisaivars – who follow the agamic rituals for the worship of Lord Shiva. The rituals for the temple were collated from the Vedas and set by Patanjali, who is said to have inducted the Dikshithars into the worship of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.
In general, every married male member of the Dikshithar family gets a turn to perform the rituals at the temple and can serve as the chief priest for the day. Married Dikshithars are also entitled a share of the temple's revenue. Though the temple is said to have been given endowments of almost 5,000 acres (20 km2) of fertile land – having been patronized by various rulers for several centuries, today, it is managed almost entirely by privately run endowments.
The day begins with the Chief priest of the day, performing required rituals to purify himself and assume the Shivoham bhava (Shiva-hood), after which he enters the temple to do the daily rituals. The day begins with the Lord's footwear (padukas) being brought at 7:00am from the palliyarai (or bedroom) to the sanctum sanctorum in a palanquin accompanied by devotees with cymbals and chimes and drums. The priest then begins by performing the daily rituals with a yajna and a ' Go pujai' (worship of a cow and her calf).
Worship (Puja) is done 6 times in a day. Before each puja, the spadika linga (crystal linga) – the 'aru uruva' or the semi form state of Lord Shiva is anointed with ghee, milk, curds, rice, sandal paste and holy ash. This is followed by presenting the naivedhyam or offering of freshly prepared food and sweets to the Lord and the diparaadhana, a ritual of showing varied and decoratively set lamps, the reciting of Vedas in Sanskrit and the Panchapuranam (a set of 5 poems from a set of 12 works in Tamil – called the panniru thirumurai). The puja ends with the priest parting the curtains of the sanctum sanctorum to reveal the Chidambara Rahasyam.
Before the 2nd puja, apart from the regular anointing of the crystal linga, a ruby Nataraja deity (the Rathinasabhapathy) is also anointed. The 3rd puja is at around 12.00 noon, after which the temple closes until around 4:30pm. The 4th puja is performed at 6.00 PM, the 5th at 8:00pm and the last puja of the day is performed at 10:00pm, after which the Lord's footwear is taken in a procession for Him to 'retire' for the night. Before the 5th puja at night, the priest performs special rituals at the Chidambara Rahasya, where he anointed the yantra with aromatic substances and offers 'naivedhyam'.
The last puja, called the Arthajaama puja in Chidambaram is done with special fervor. It is believed that the entire divine force of the universe retires into the Lord, when he retires for the night.
The temple is now taken over by Government of Tamil Nadu under Sec 45 of the T.N. HR & CE Act. This has however been challenged by the Podu Dikshitars. The Podhu Dikshitars are a religious denomination as observed by the Madras High Court in 1951. They are entitled to carry on the administration since Article 26 of the Indian Constitution and Section 107 of the T.N.HR & CE Act prohibit government intervention in the administration of Denominations. The case is now currently (April 2010) pending before the Supreme Court of India. Podhu Dikshitars have refused to hand over any charge to the Executive Officer appointed by the HR & CE Commissioner. The Executive Officer has installed hundials (donation boxes) in this ancient temple, against the temple traditions. He also installed modern High Mast Lamps in this heritage site. He proposes to introduce Archana tickets and Darshan tickets. All these actions have been opposed by the Podhu Dikshitars and the devotees. However, the procedure for rituals are still managed by Dikshitars.
6.30.a.m. PAAL NIVEDHYAM
7.00.a.m. MAHA AARTHI
7.45 a.m.to 9.00.a.m. KALASANDHI POOJA ( first pooja of the day)
10.00a.m.to 11.00.a.m. IRANDAAM KAALAM ( 2nd pooja of the day)
11.30.a.m.to 12.00noon UCHIKAALAM (3rd pooja of the day)
5.15p.m. to 6.00.p.m. SAAYARAKSHAI ( 4th pooja of the day)
7.00.p.m.to 8.00.p.m. IRANDAAM KAALAM (5th pooja of the day)
9.00.p.m. to 10.00.p.m. ARDHAJAAMAM (6th and last pooja of the day)
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