HANUMAN TEMPLE, NAMAKKAL
Namakkal is a well known pilgrimage town. People come here from all over to visit the famous Hanuman temple.It is also called as Anjaneyar Koil.
The temple is more than 1500 years old and it is unique in many ways.
The idol of Hanuman is 18 feet tall and carved out of a single rock.
There is no roof over the idol.Come rain or shine, Hanuman stands worshiping Lord Narasimha some 250 feet away in the cave temple, across the ages, the very picture of piety.
Hanuman in this Viswaroopa stands tall and majestic, a japa-maala in his folded hands.
Here, Time stands still.
For example, it was not until 1996 that the mandapam and surrounding buildings were built.
Untill then, there was just this large and lovely idol of the greatest Bhakta of God and four stone pillars to make a mantapam without a roof, for the statue of Hanuman rises above the pillars. He stands on a large beautifully carved lotus flower peedam.
A story is told of how Lord Narasimha told Hanuman that he may come to Namakkal and remain here after his duties to Sri Rama were done. Accordingly, it is said, at the very end of the Ramayana story, when Lord Rama and his entourage including Sugreeva ascended to Sri Vaikuntam , Hanuman with Sri Rama’s permission chose to stay back. He came to Namakkal Kshetra and was immersed in worship of Lord Narasimha.
Hanuman was a great scholar, well versed in the Vedas, a skilled musician and shrewd diplomat. In Kishkinda he was King Sugreeva’s minister. After Sri Rama’s return to Ayodhya, Hanuman chose to stay on in Ayodhya in the service of Rama.
Hanuman has many names, Maruthi, Anjaneya, Vayuputra and so on.
Sage Valmiki named the fifth book of the Ramayana, the Sundara Kandam, after Hanuman. Hanuman is the only character in the epic to have a book named after him. Why? Because he is Sundaran, which means one who is beautiful. It was the name given to Him by his mother Anjanai. It is this name that Sage Valmiki chose over others and it is a name that suits him best!
The Sundara kandam begins with Hanuman’s flight to Sri Lanka where he searches for and meets Sita. It ends with his return to India bringing the message of Sita to Rama .The Sundara Kandam is important because Hanuman brought hope and promise to an unhappy Sita who was on the brink of committing suicide. And the news that Sita was alive was enough to motivate Rama and the vaanaras to build a bridge that spanned the ocean to reach Lanka and rescue Sita.
Even today Sundara Kandam readings are an important practice in Hinduism. The readings whether by individuals or by groups are called as paarayana and give benefits to the readers.
In India, we love to decorate our gods and Namakkal Hanuman is no exception!!
The Alangarams of Hanuman are many and varied, according to the desires of the Bhaktas and the art and ingenuity of the priests. There is the special Thanga- kavasam, (Thangam is the Tamil word for gold) when the whole idol is covered in gold sheets moulded to the form of the statue, and the silver or velli kavasam. Photos of this alangaram are available on the internet.
Besides these, there are the various kaapu –
=Santana kaapu using sandal paste, Vennai kaapu using butter and so on.
I have even seen Hanuman wearing a sherwani – North Indian style, complete with turban and pointed ornamental shoes!! Mind you, all this was made of butter, craft paper and lengths of zari, and silk cloth!
The crowds wait patiently, sometimes for more than 2 hours, just to see these alangarams, which are mostly sponsored by individual devotees.
Much as Hanuman looks beautiful in the alangarams, it is during the Abhishekam that the true beauty of His form can be seen and admired.
You can see the big eyes, the ornaments called kundalam worn in the ears, the startling life like nostrils, the folded hands with a japa-mala, the ornaments worn on the fore-arms, the holy thread across the chest, the dress worn at the waist and the thandai worn on ankles. You can even see a small dagger at the waist.
If possible try to plan your visit around 11 a.m. in the morning which is the approximate time of the daily abhishekam.
The priests anoint the idol with oil followed by the ritual pouring of milk, sandal, turmeric, curd, honey. Sometimes when a small basket of pomegranate pearls are showered on Him it looks as though rubies are showered on Him! Simply beautiful!