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Thirumayilai - Kapaleeshwarar

Kapaleeshwarar temple, Mylapore, Chennai district, Tamil Nadu Kapaleeshwarar temple, Mylapore, Chennai district, Tamil NaduMeditation: I meditate on Devi Parvati performing penance in Thirumayilai worshipping Lord Shiva in the form of a peahen under a Punnai tree.

Kapaleeshwarar: Kapaleeshwarar temple of Thirumayilai (Mylapore) is a Paadal Petra Sthalam whose glory is sung by the Nayanmars.

Penance of Devi Parvati: Kapaleeshwarar temple is associated with the legend of Devi Parvati worshipping Lord Shiva in the form of a peahen. According to this legend, once Lord Shiva was explaining the Panchakshara mantra and the significance of holy ash to Devi Parvati. However Devi Parvati became distracted by the beauty of a peacock dancing over there. Lord Shiva became angry. He cursed the Devi to be born on earth as a peahen and expiate the curse by performing penance. As a result Devi Parvati was born as a peahen. She worshipped a Shiva Lingam under a Punnai tree with single-minded devotion. Lord Shiva became pleased and took her back. The Devi came to be known as Karpagambal. The marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the temple Brahmotsavam in the month of Panguni. The name Mylapore is derived from Mayilai or peacock, the form which Devi Parvati assumed to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva here is also known as Punnaivana Nathar because of the presence of a forest of Punnai trees in this area.

Worship of Lord Brahma: According to another legend, once Lord Brahma became arrogant with false pride. He started considering himself to be the absolute master. Lord Shiva vanquished his pride by plucking off one of his heads. Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Shiva here to atone his sin and get back his power of creation. Since Lord Shiva severed the Kapala (head) of Brahma he is known as Kapaleeshwarar.

Worship of Murugan: According to another legend, before waging war with Surapadma, Murugan worshipped Lord Shiva here to get his blessings. Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati blessed their son. Devi Parvati also gifted the Vel to Murugan here, the powerful weapon which Murugan used to vanquish demon Surapadma.

Revival of Poompavai by Thirugnana Sambandar: Kapaleeshwarar temple is also associated with the legend of Thirugnana Sambandar reviving Poompavai. Poompavai was the daughter of Shivanesan, a prosperous merchant of Mylapore. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and revered the Shaivite saints. He heard of Thirugnana Sambandar and decided to give her daughter's hand to that saint. However a tragic incident took place one day whereby Poompavai died of a snake-bite while plucking flowers from the garden. Shivanesan loved his daughter dearly and preserved her bones in a clay pot. When Thirugnana Sambandar visited Mylapore he came to know of this incident. He asked for the pot of Poompavai's bones and sung ten hymns of Lord Shiva starting with the words "Mattitta Punnai". The hymn mentioned the festivals of Kapaleeshwarar and ended with the sad note that: "O Poompavai, you have passed away without seeing these festivals?". When the saint sang the tenth hymn the pot broke open and Poompavai came out in her beautiful form. All were amazed and chanted" "Hara Hara Hara".

• Thirumayilai is located in the Chennai district of Tamil Nadu.


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Last updated on Aug-2021

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