Friday, September 18, 2009

Arulmigu Karpagambal Kapaleeswarar

Literary evidence in innumerable songs and hymns, reveal the existence of Mylapore Kapaleeswarar Temple many centuries before Christ. Historical accounts clearly indicate that Tiruvalluvar and Peyalwar lived in Mylapore which adds glory to this holy place.

Mylapore was a well known sea port and trade centre even before 2000 years. St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ visited this place in 2nd Century A.D. PTOLEMY, the Greek Geographer has mentioned it as "MALEARBHA"
Original temple was at Sea-shore the place of which is now called Santhome Cathedral. The temple suffered demolition in 16th Century when Mylapore was captured by Portugese in 1566 A.D.

The fragmentary inscription from old temple are still found in St. Thomas Cathedral in the present temple and in surrounding places. The present temple rebuilt in Vijaynagar Tradition by making use of the ruims of old temple retains the glory of the past and continues to attract thousands of devotees and pilgrims from far and near.. The monuments erected by the Kings and philanthropic persons in the old temple have been utilised in the present temple.

The temple surrounded by the four 'Mada Streets' and abutted by the 'Temple Tank' is a spot that cannot be neglected by any tourist to Chennai, whether Indian or Foreign.

The Name


Mythology says that PARVATHY DEVI did penance here assuming the form of peacock and so the name 'Mylapore'. The word "Mayil" in Tamil language means "Pea-Cock". Goddess UMA worshiped Lord SHIVA taking the form of Pea-cock under Punnai tree as desired by Lord SIVA. In Brimmanda Puranam this place is mentioned as "Mayurapuri". The word "Mayuram" in sankrit means Pea-Cock.

In Tamil Literature this place is called "Mayilar". The British named it as "Mylapore". Other names for Mylapore - Veda Nagar, Sukkarapuri, Brahmapuram, Kandapuri, Kapaleeswaram, Kapali- Maa Nagar.Legend revea that the child prodigy Poet Thirugnanasambandar brought back the life of Poompavai, the daughter of a merchant who died because of snake bite ( for details see the caption 'Miracles and Legends' ).


"Kapalam" means bowl of skull. Lord Siva or Easwara is standing with ascetic’s bowl of skull in his hand. At the time of yuga pralaya (dissolution of cosmos) nothing remains except Lord Easwara with bowl of skull.

He starts creation of new YUGA from this Kapalam i.e. the ascetic bowl of skull. Lord SIVA is therefore called "KAPALEESWARAR".


Karpagam is the name of holy tree in Heaven. It gives whatever one wants from it. Goddess UMA blesses her sincere devotees with all as they pray for like Karpaga tree. The Goddess of the temple is therefore called KARPAGAMBAL.



KalaSandhi - Morning Pooja
UchiSandhi - Mid-day Pooja
Sayankala Sandhi - Evening Pooja
Arthajama Sandhi - Late Night Pooja

Sayankala sandhi is the elaborate and picturesque of shodasa - upashars ie 16 propitiations with waving of lights are spectacular.


Other special services are pradosha, pancha parva etc. PRADOSHA is very important.


1. The period from 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM is pradosha time.

2. It is otherwise called "Prathyaksha Time" or "Rajani Face time".

3. This is the meeting time of Day and Night.

4. This is one of the eight Muhurthams of a day.


1. Dhina Pradosham - Daily between 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm

2. Paksha pradosham - (Fortnightly) 13th day from New moon or Full moon day.

3. Soma Pradosham - If it falls on Monday.

4. Maha Pradosham - Earlier day of Mahasivarathri

5. Sani Pradosham - If it falls on Saturday.

6. Sani Mahapradosham - If it falls on Saturday and earlier day of Mahasivarathri


1. Prayers in Soma Pradosham is the best of all Prayers.

2. Prayers in Sani Maha Pradosham gives 1000 times more effects.


Lord Siva Swallowed the venom that arose from Parkadal (Milk Sea) when it was derived by Devas and Asuvas. He took the venom on the day of yegadhasi. He was unconcious on Dhuvadhasi. He work up on Thriyothasi at the time of meeting day and night.

Devas were perplexed. On his waking up Lord Siva did Sandhiya Narthanam (Evening Dance) with Goddess Uma, Devas, Rishis, Siva Ganas.prayed lord siva.That prayar is called PRADOSHA POOJA.

If any body does Sivalinga Dharshan during Pradosha day continiously and proceedurily for 14 years, he gets SAROOPA SWARGA (The third Swarga) according to Hindu Mythology. Those who start Pradosha Viradham, they should start on the pradosha day either in Avani or Karthigai month.


The life history of Poompavai is a great miracle. She was the daughter of a merchant called Sivanesan Chettiar. When she was gathering flowers in the garden, she was stung by a snake and she died. Sivanesan Chettiar kept her ashes in a pot with strong faith that Thirugnana Sambandar, a famous saint would resurrect her. Sambandar Came to Thiruvottiyur on his pilgrimage. He was invited to Mylapore temple with a spectacular welcome.

Sivanesan brought the urn containing the ashes of Poompavai and placed it before God at the outside. Hearing the pathetic story of Poompavai, Sambandar sang a hymn (a pathigam) in praise of Lord Kapaleeswar. When the tenth verse was sung, Poompavai emerged fully from the pot as witness to the glory of Lord Kapaleeswara.

The saint did not cast even a glance at the beautiful damsel he brought to life. He was so humble to realise that the miracle was not his power, but only the grace of God only. Sivanesam requested the saint to take his daughter in marriage but Sambandar gently declined and went away.


(i) Sri Rama on his return from Srilanka after killing Ravana perform pooja to Lord Siva at Rameswaram to wash off his sin of killing Ravana.

(ii) Then he came to Mylapore and performed Brahmothsava (great festival) for Kapaleeswara in the asterism Thiruvonam.

(iii) But there is no evidence of any sculpture or freize in the present re - built temple to support this legend.


Innumerable festivals like Daily festival, Weekly festival, Monthly festival, Nayanmars birthstar festival.are performed.

No day is passed without a festival. Elaborate arrangements are made according to the nature of festival. Apart from these routine festivals, the following grand festivals are of great divine attractions even today.

Thirugnana Sambandar in his hymns written centuries ago says that these festivals were a hoary traditions in the repertoire of festivals at the ancient town Mylapore.


This is celebrated in the month of Panguni (March - April). It lasts for 10 days.

1st day, 5th day, 7th day, 8th day and 10th day festivals are grand ones.

1st day Dwajha vahanam (Flag hoisting) in the morning In the night, Goddess Uma worshipping the Lord Siva taking the form of Pea - Cock under the Punnai Tree in celebrated.

5th day: The diety is taken on a Silver bull in the night. Aroganam in Silver bull by Lord Siva is considered as a Sacred Dharshan.

7th day: Car festival is on the 7th day. Lakhs of people from all surrounding places participate in pulling the chains of car.

8th day: This is very important festival. This is specially called Aruvathu moovar Uthsavam (The festival of 63 saints). More than 5 lakhs people of all caste & creed, rich or poor witness it. The idols of 63 Nayanmars are taken along with Kapalesswarar and Karpagambal.

10th day: It is the last day festival. It is otherwise called Bhikshatana Festival. It is turely appropriate to Lord Kapaleeswarar, because the beautiful idol of the Lord as ascetic with a skull bowl in hand is taken around.


In Tamil it is called Theppa Thiruvizha

It takes place in the month of Thai (Jan-Feb)

The deities are taken in a decorated raft called "Theppam" in the tank.
The tank is colorfully illuminated all around.


This is celebrated for 9days. That is why it is called Navarathiri festival.

It starts from next day of Newmoon day in the month of Purattasi (Aug - Sept)

Prayers for first 3days are for Goddess Paravathi for next 3days for Goddess Lakshmi and the last 3days for Goddess Saraswathi.

10th Day : Vijaya Dhasami is celebrated in a grand manner.


This summer festival takes place in Vaikasi (May-June) Music programmes are arranged during this festival.

Golden Car

Height of the car : 15 feet 5 inches

Qty of Copper : 407 KGs.

Qty of Silver : 134.4 KGs.

Qty of Gold : 11.8 KGs

The above golden car is intended only for the inside praghara ula (Car will go around the inner side the temple inside the compound wall). The Idol of Goddess Arulmigu Karpagambal will be seated in the car.

The devotees who are willing to pull the car to offer their due prayers to the Goddess will have to remit a sum of Rs.1,001/- for the above service. A maximum of four devotees can pull the car after remitting the sun.

The timings for the Golden Car Ula is in between 7.00 to 8.00 PM.

Ubahayadharas (Sponsors who remit to pull the car) will be honoured with Parivattam,Photos of Amman and Swami, vessels along with Prasadhams.