The powerful Lord Shiva Temple of Meganathaswami is located in Thirumeyachur, 18 kms from Mayavaram and 33 km from Kumbakonam. Moolavar is Lord Siva, known here as Meganatha Swami. Though the moolavar is Lord Shiva, this is a temple of ambal (Divine mother) importance. The temple is famous for mother Sri Lalithambigai. It is one of the shrines of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams – Shiva Sthalams glorified in the early medieval Tevaram poems by Tamil Saivite Nayanar. Tirugnanasambandar.
The temple has a 5-tier Rajagopuram and an outer prakaram(circumbulatory path). As soon as you enter the first praharam you will see the Lalithambikai sannidhi on the right.The sannidhi (sanctum) of Meganathaswami is inside another praharam with a small gopuram at the entrance.
The moolavar (presiding deity) here is Shiva and he is called Meghanatha Swamy and the ambal is Lalithambikai also called as Santhanayaki. The idol of Ambal is about five feet tall and installed over a Srichakra.Lalithambigai in this kshetram is seen holding a parrot.
According to legends, demon Pandasura was harassing sages and Devas. The Devas surrendered at the feet of Parasakthi for protection. Devi rose from a Yaga Gunda, mounted on the Sri Chakra Rath with the name Lalithambika, waged a war against Pandasura and destroyed him. Her fury did not subside even after that. Lord Shiva asked Sakthi to go to Earth,underthe name Manonmani and perform penance and shed her fury. Mother came to this place and became soft and merciful.
According to legends and mythology, this is the birth place of Garuda, Aruna ( charioteer of Sun God), Vali, Sugriva, Yama and Shaneeswaran.
Lalitha Sahasranamam was created at this shrine. The grace of Amman overflows here. It is a splendor to look at Amman adorned with Her jewels. The figure of Shiva Sakthi is excellently carved at the corridor. Sandeswarar with four heads is special at this temple. This can be seen in Kachoor also. It is believed that Lord Saneeswaran was born at this location. The curse on sun God (Sooriyan) was absolved here. Hence there is no separate Sannidhi for navagrahas here. On the contrary there are 12 Nagas of the 12 Rasis. Performing pooja to them with lighting lamps, all Doshas (evil spell) including those of Raghu and Kedhu are dispelled. Many boons including the one for marriage are granted for devotees who worship here.
Lord Hayagriva who is a disciple of Divine mother Sri Lalithambika, taught the greatness of Lalitha Sahasranama to Sage Agasthya. Sage asked Hayagriva for a suitable place in the earth to chant this great hymn. Lord said that the sage should visit a place where Mother graces in the name of Manonmani. Sage, and his wife Lopamudra visited Tirumeeyachur and chanted Lalitha Sahasranama before Mother Lalithambika. Pleased with his devotion, Sri Lalithambikai appeared before the Sage and his wife in the form of Navaratnas. Sage Agastyar is believed to have then sung Lalita Navaratnamala in praise of the Goddess. He has also composed a hymn named Rahasyanamasahasram.
The biggest sin is to prevent a person from offering worship to God. To make fun of a person citing is bodily deformity is another big sin. Sooriya Bhagavan (Sun God) was guilty of both. Arunan was the charioteer of Sooriyan. He was handicapped. He had a desire to worship Lord Shiva at Kailayam (Mount Kailash). When he expressed this to sooriyan, the later not only declined to give permission but also made fun of the deformity of the former. Arunan who was immersed in his devotion to Lord Shiva took on the form of beautiful women “Mohini”. He set off to Kailayam. Indra who saw Mohini was carried away by her beauty. The result was the creation of “Valli”.
Returning from Kailash, Arunan told Sooriyan that he had a dharshan of Lord Shiva at kailayam. When sooriyan heard the form of “Mohini” from Arunan, he asked him to show the form. Arunan turned into Mohini and Sooriyan was lured to her beauty. The result was the creation of “Sugriva”. Lord Shiva became angry at Sooriyan making fun of his devotee Arunan. He cursed Sooriyan. Sooriyan became dark. He was ordered to worship Shiva and Parvathi for 7 months placing them on an elephant in the sky. Then only his curse would go null and void. Sooriyan started performing the pooja placing Shiva and Parvathi on elephant. Shortly before the closing of the seventh month, Sooriyan went to Lord Shiva and asked why he was not granted absolution from the curse. Parvathi became furious and asked him “Couldn’t you even wait till the end of the period?” She rose to curse him. Lord Shiva became perturbed as the whole world would become dark if another curse was made on sooriyan. He pacified Parvathi and granted Sooriyan absolution at the right time. The face of Sooriyan brightened and the world came out of darkness. Lord Shiva who graced Sooriyan sits on Gajaprushta Vimana at the Sanctum Sanctorum and graces all with the name Sri Meganadhar at this shrine, Thiru Meeyachur.
Saivite saints Tirugnana Sambandar and Tirunavukkarasar have also sung in praise. Asthabhujanga Durga mata is on the Northern side of the outer Praharam. A parrot is in her right hand. The parrot is supposed to be taking the message to Sri Lalithambigai when devotees, who want their prayers to come true. Some devotees who are lucky can see that spectacle of a Parrot flying from above Durga’s shrine to the dhwajasthambam opposite Lalithambigai’s shrine!! This is the belief of the devotees.
There are shrines for Lord Brahmma,Vishnu and Lingodhbava Shiva) and Chandikeswara with four faces. The sculpture of Kshetra Puraneswarar is very beautiful. Kshetrapuraneswarar seen holding the cheeks of his consort and appears to be pacifying Her.The Mother idol appears to be angry from one side and santha swarubini (smiling and soft) from the other side.
Lord Hayagriva who is a disciple of Mother Lalithambika,taught the greatness of Lalitha Sahasranama to Sage Agasthya. Sage asked Hayagriva for a suitable place in the earth to chant this great hymn. Lord said that the sage should visit a place where Mother graces in the name of Manonmani. Sage, and his wife Lopamudra came to Tirumeeyachur and chanted Lalitha Sahasranama before Mother Lalithambika. Pleased with his devotion, Mother Lalithambikai appeared before the Agastya and his wife in the form of Navaratnas. Sage Agastyar is believed to have then sung Lalita Navaratnamala in praise of the Goddess. He has also composed a hymn named Rahasyanamasahasram.
Saiva saints Tirugnana Sambandar and Tirunavukkarasar have sung in praise of Shiva and Lalithambigai.
In the year 1999,a devotee from Bangaluru had recurring dreams of Ambal asking her for a gold Kolusu (anklet). This woman went in search of the Goddess and visited various temples. By chance she saw an issue of Aalayam magazine in which Lalithambigai Temple appeared as the cover story and immediately recognised the Ambal as the one from her dreams. She had the anklet made and visited the temple. She told the priest about her dreams and wanted to offer the Goddess the kolusu. The priest said that is not possible since there is no way for the kolusu to go around Her feet. The devotee was persistant and the priest decided to have a look and to his astonishment could find a hollow place in the idol’s ankle and he could actually pass the kolusu through it.
Following this incident, according to temple sources, devotees seeking wedding, child, pray to Mother Lalithambika by offering anklets.
Beliefs and Rituals
Devotees perform Ayush Homam and Mrutyunjaya Homam in this temple for longevity. They also offer Pirandai ( Cissus quadrangularris- Hadjot in Hindi) rice neivedyam(offering) to Lord shiva and eat it for cure from diseases and for longevity of life.
Festivals Fridays are considered auspicious and the temple is a little bit crowded. During Navarathri festival, ambal is decorated in various avatars and special poojas and abishekams are performed. The month of Adi (Jul-Aug) is also auspicious here. The temple is normally open from 5 am – 12:00pm and 4.30pm- 8:30pm.