Friday, 1 March 2019

The Famous Sivalaya Ottam On Maha Shivaratri Day - A Run To Propitiate Lord Siva - Kalkulam, Kanyakumari

Sivalaya Ottam means running from one Siva temple to another. On Sivarathri day, the pilgrims at Kanyakumari district worship at 12 siva temples covering a distance of 86 kms within 24 hours by foot. Pilgrims who cover the distance by foot observe ‘vridha’ for a week. Those who cannot run this distance, visit the temples in vehicles. Thousands of people from different parts of the district as well as neighbouring Kerala will take part in Sivalaya Ottam. On the day of Mahasivarathri, devotees of Lord Siva will take a marathon run by covering all the 12 temples, located in and around Kalkulam, former capital of Venad. The devotees after the ritualistic bath smear holy ash on their foreheads and visit the temples spread within an area of 86 kilometres.

Sivalaya Ottam
Sivalaya Ottam
Special pujas will be conducted at temple at Thirumalai. The ritual begin after the devotees taking a holy-dip in the Thamirabharani river at Munchirai, the first Sivalayam. The participants wear saffron robes, hold a palm-leaf fan on their hand and chant the mantra "Govinda... Gopaala..." all through the whole day of running. The pilgrims receive the holy ashes, "Thiruneer" from all the eleven temples. The purpose for the pilgrimage is believed to be fulfilled only by receiving the Sandal-paste from the final Sankaranarayanar Temple at Thirunattalam. After this, it is also told that a worship at Adi Kesava Temple at Thiruvattar nearby is also very useful after this ceremony. The objective of the pilgrimage is to uphold that Siva and Vishnu are both the manifestations of one supreme being. Before, the devotees observes a one-week fast. Tender coconut and Tender palmyra in the day time and tulsi-water at night are the only food items taken by the devotees during the fasting days.

Shivalaya Ottam is a ritual marathon undertook by the devotees to the 12 Siva shrines in the district of Kanyakumari on the day of Shivarathri. Ideally, the Shivalaya Ottam is undertaken on foot (after all, Ottam means run in Malayalam). However, nowadays, only the most ardent of devotees, literally, run the distance. The pilgrimage involves a circuitous journey, starting from Thirumalai Mahadevar temple at Munchirai, near Marthandam to Sankaranarayana temple, at Thirunattalam. Pilgrims have to cover a distance of about 80 to 110 Kms in around 24 hours. You have to be really fit to complete the journey on foot.

Usually, the pilgrimage starts at around 4 p.m. on the previous day when Thirumalai temple opens for evening darshan. Only then can the pilgrims on foot make it in time for the evening Deeparadhana (pooja with lighted lamps) at Nattalam. Journey to all these temples in single day was a tiresome job. Perhaps that's why many devotees these days prefer to travel the route on vehicles. Local tour operators even arrange special coaches and cars for Shivalaya Ottam. Even if you are travelling by car, bus or two-wheeler, you have to leave the city well before dawn to cover the distance on time.

Sivalaya Ottam
Sivalaya Ottam
Sivalaya Ottam - Route Table
1. Thirumalai Kunnathoor, Kappucaud, Vettuvanni, Marthandam, Gnaramvilai Thikkurichi 11.80
2. Thikkurichi Chitharal, Ambalakkadai, Arumanai, Kaliyal Thirpparappu 12.40
3. Thirpparappu Kulasekaram Thirunandhikkarai 8.14
4. Thirunandhikkarai Kulasekaram Ponmanai 7.74
5. Ponmanai Chithirancode, Kumarapuram, Muttacaud Pannippagam 10.40
6. Pannippagam Saral vilai, Marunthukkottai, Padmanabhapuram Kalkulam 5.73
7. Kalkulam Padmanabhapuram Melancode 3.37
8. Melancode Kumaracoil Bus stop, Villukuri Thiruvidaicode 4.66
9. Thiruvidaicode Villukuri, Thuckalay, Keralapuram Thiruvithancode 8.60
10. Thiruvithancode Nadukkadai, Kodiyoor, Perambi, Palliyadi Thirupanthicode 9.21
11. Thirupanthicode Thirupanniyode-Thirunattalam Thirunattalam 4.08

The 12 Temples in order....
  • Thirumala Mahadevar temple, Munchira
  • Mahadevar temple, Thikkurichi
  • Veerapathira temple, Thiruparappu
  • Nandeeswarar temple, Thirunanthikara
  • Theempilankudi Mahadevar temple, Ponmana
  • Sri Kirathamurthi temple, Pannippagam
  • Neelakandaswamy temple, Kalkulam (Padmanabhapuram)
  • Kala Kandar temple, Melangode
  • Sadayappar temple, Thiruvidaikode
  • Sri Parithipani Mahadevar temple, Thiruvithancode
  • Mahadevar temple, Thirupannikodu
  • Sankaranarayana temple, Thirunattalam

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