June & July 2019


Historic Places And Festivals

Ayya established five pathis .These pathis are pilgrim centrers for the followers of Ayya. The first pathi is Swamithoppu itself. It is the head quarters of Ayya Cult. The other pathis are:

(2) Muttapathi
(3) Thamarakulam pathi
(4) Ambalapathi
(5) Poopathi.

Swamithoppu, formely known as Poovandanthoppu, is situated in Thamarakkulam village of Nanchi naadu in Kanyakumari District.This is the birth place of Ayya Vaikundar. After the enlightenment at Thiruchenthur in March 3, 1833, at the age of 24, Ayya Vaikundar returned to this place where he started his social reformation. This can be considered as the first pathi.

The successors of Ayya Vaikundar conduct the daily Pani Vidai and they administrate the activities. The elder male member will be in charge of Swamithoppu. Ayya Vaikundar - Thirumalammal couple had two sons Puthukutty and Retnavadi. Among them Puthukutty was very noble and wise. He was married at the age of seventeen.He had three sons. The elder was Narayana vadivu.His only son expired before marriage. Krishna narayanan , the broher of Narayana vadivu had one son and four daughters. That son Chella vadivu came in the charge of Swamithoppu.It was he who developed the activities of Ayya cult.He started daily pooja ( pani vidai ) and daily feast ( nithya bhojan ). He widely propagated the principles of Ayya Vaikundar.

Chella vadivu had two sons . Elder was Krishnanamani and younger was Bala Krishnan nadar.In continuation with Chella raj , the son of Krishnanamani, Bala praja pathi adikalar son of Bala Krishnan nadar , is now continuing as the chief administrator of Swami thoppu.

Every day morning at 3'o clock the pani vidai starts at Swamy thope.The Gurus and the people staying at the temple go to Munthiri Kinaru and take holy bath. After their return the Gurus chants yuga padippu and the devotees repeat it. Then they open the door of Sanctum Santorum in the amidst of bells and conch .After that there is vahana pavani.

Vahana pavani comes around the temple and along the four car streets. The nithiya pal is prepared daily and offered to Ayya Vaikundar.It is the only food Ayya Vaikundar ate when he was in human form at Swamithoppu.This offering is done daily without fail. The descendants of Pudukkuty ,the first Guru of the gurukulam ,prepares this daily at the temple. Chavanipal , a gruel prepared with rice and green gram ,is distributed to the devotees.

The noon pani vidai starts around 11'O clock . Daily Uchipadippu is chanted. The devotees will repeat it and Thavanipal is distributed to the devotees. On Sundays, large number of people from far and near comes over here to participate in the Uchipadippu.

In the evening, pani vidai starts around 5'O clock. The door of the Sanctum Sanctorum is opened amidst the sound of the bells and shanka naadam.Then, the guru would chant yuga padippu .Those who congregate for the evening pani vidai would repeat this. Then, there will be vahana pani vidai. The vahana is taken around the temple before anna dhana. This is the daily routine of Swamithoppu temple. One can have darshan at any time of the day in this temple.

Car festivals are conducted thrice a year during the months of avani, thai and vaikasi.

The festivals start on the first Friday of avani and thai . In vaikasi , the festival starts on the second Friday of the month. The festival starts with the hoisting of the saffron coloured holy flag, early in the morning. To routine procedures of the festival are followed. In the evening ,Ayya Vaikundar is carried around the temple and through the four car streets in a cradle vahana.

On 19th of masi people from south Tamilnadu assemble at Thiruchenthur. They take sea bath with the presence of the guru from Swamithoppu. He applies namam on everybody's forehead and the procession starts in a number of vehicles at 9'O clock.

The procession goes through Seekatchi, Nainarpathu, Udangudi, Chetirapathu, Theriyoor, Santhayadi, Kottankadu, Muthukrishnapuram, Padukkapatu, Tatarmadam, Tesiyanvilai and reaches Ermaikkulam at noon. Here the people particiapate in anna dhaanam.

The procession continues from there and travels through Ayyankulam, Karaichettypudhur, Koodankulam, Chettikulam ,Chalaipudhur, Avaraikulam, Ambalavanapuram, Aruvaimozhi, Thovalai and reaches Athalavilai.

The vehicle procession from Thiruvananthapuram travels through Balaramapuram, Parassala, Marthandam, Thackalai and reaches Athalavilai at about 6'O clock.

The Vaikunta Jyothi is lighted on a hill top called Vaikunta malai. Then the joined procession proceeds to Nagercoil and goes around the town. A religious conference is conducted at Nagercoil in which many eminent persons participate. People stay there over night.

On the next day the procession to Swamithoppu begins in the early morning. A guru of Swamithoppu will lead the procession. It will be huge assembling of Ayya devotees with a saffron flag in their hands. Decorated elephants and horses used to become an attraction in the procession.

The procession passes through Edalakudi, Sucheendram, Vazhukkamparai, Ethankadu and north Thamarakkulam. On the way the native people welcome the procession and garland the leader. They reach at Swamithoppu at about 12'O clock and go to the munthiri kinaru first and then four car streets.

Later the procession goes around the temple .Before entering the temple the participants hand over their flags at the entrance.

Muttapathi was the place where Thuvayal Panthy was conducted by the followers of Ayya Vaikundar. Here, the last part of the Thuvayal Panthy was conducted as per Ayya Vaikundar's wishes. The seven hundred families lived there as a group and so there prevailed a kind of group economy.

The neighbours heard about their pure vegetarian life. A lot of people came to witness the life of devotees. The coconut grove where Thuvayal Panthy was conducted belonged to a man from Kanyakumari. He was a pious Brahmin. Hearing about Thuvayal Panthy, he came to that place and witnessed it. He became so attached to Ayya Vaikundar that he gave away that land to Ayya Vaikundar.

The present Muttapathi was established there and was under the direct control of the Swamithoppu Gurukulam. Later, due to some litigations, the land was auctioned by the Government. Those who got the land in the auction conducted the daily Pani Vidai. Now, their descendants conduct the Pani Vidai. Muttapathi is a private temple managed by trustees.

Palkkadal is nearby Ayya Vazhi followers have a belief that a holy dip in the sea at Muttapathi will sanctify them.Every year, on the last Friday of Panguni, people march from Swamithoppu in large numbers to Muttapathi. The Gurus from Swamithoppu conduct the Pani Vidai and also the Anna Dhaanam on that day.

Muttapathi is on the sea shore just two kilometers north of Kanyakumari. A fishing harbour called Chinnamuttam is being constructed nearby. One can reach this pathi by a town bus from Kanyakumari.

Thamarakulam is the birthplace of Harigopalan, one of the disciples of Ayya Vaikundar. He was also called as Sahadevan Cheedar. He helped Ayya to write Akilathirattu, the holy book. So, he became well known of all the disciples of Ayya Vaikundar. People of this village once invite Ayya Vaikundar to their village. Ayya Vaikundar went there and he was given a warm welcome and a treat . Ayya Vaikundar stayed there for a day and returned to Swamithoppu.

During the early years, Ayya Vaikundar was taken to village in a Vahana once in a year. The auspicious day was the last Sunday of the Tamil month Panguni. In those days, people celebrated this occasion as a festival. This practice has been discontinued for the past fifty years. Daily Pani Vidai is being conducted here. Now, there are vahanas made of wood for the festivals. The festivals and day-to-day affairs of the temple are conducted by the village people. This pathi is managed by a Village committee.

Thamarakulampathi is situated in South Thamarakulam, one kilometer south of Swamithoppu. One can reach this place from Nagercoil or Kanyakumari by town bus. It is fourteen kilometers away from Nagercoil.

Ayya Vaikundar went to a place called Pallam and stayed there for two years. This place is called Ambalapathi. A temple was constructed here with 96 beams joining at the centre and Ayya Vaikundar preached from that temple. It was from this place that the devotees took Ayya on horseback to such villages as Kadambankulam and Pambankulam. Ayya established Nizhal Thangals in these villages. Later, at the end of the second year, Ayya Vaikundar returned to Swamithoppu.

The temple constructed by Ayya Vaikundar was not maintained properly and this temple became dilapidated soon. Later, the owners of the land constructed a temple and conducted daily Pani Vidai. Now, this pathi is managed by the descendants of the people who constructed the temple. Every year car festivals are conducted in this pathi. There are many vahanas to carry Ayya Vaikundar around the temple.

This pathi is located ten kilometers south of Nagercoil. This is one of the most important pilgrim centeres of Ayya Cult people. This pathi is also called as Pallathupathi and Mulagundapathi.

Ayya Vaikundar spent his last six years at Swamithoppu. He lived a normal life. He owned fields and groves. He also maintained cattle. Boomadevi known as Poomadanthai was a little girl living at a place near Eathamozhi. Some devotees wanted to unite this divine couple; but there was stiff opposition from the relatives of the girl. Poomadanthai was chanting the praise of Ayya Vaikundar and proved that she was extraordinary.

Ayya Vaikundar spent his last six years at Swamithoppu. He lived a normal life. He owned fields and groves. He also maintained cattle. Boomadevi known as Poomadanthai was a little girl living at a place near Eathamozhi. Some devotees wanted to unite this divine couple; but there was stiff opposition from the relatives of the girl. Poomadanthai was chanting the praise of Ayya Vaikundar and proved that she was extraordinary.

Later, the relatives called Ayya Vaikundar to their village and gave the girl's hand in marriage to Ayya Vaikundar. Poomadanthai was happily united with Ayya Vaikundar. Ayya Vaikundar took rest there in a grove full of laurel trees. It was a beautiful place. The buds of this trees were like pearls and the place was very cool. Later, the devotees established a pathi at this place and it is called Poopathi. Festivals are conducted every year and this temple is owned by the village and maintained by a village committee. Poopathi is located about ten kilometers south of Nagercoil near Eathamozhi.

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