Thai Pusam Pāda Yātrā to Palani Murugan Temple (above and below)
by Dr. R. Kannan
1.0. Palani1 is a holy place and a land of
Siddhas2. Lord Muguga
(Dandāyudhapāni3), a god of youth and
beauty4, was installed on the hillock by one
of the Eighteen Siddhas, Bhogar5, who is the author of the valuable literature
Bhogar Elayiram and Bhogar Panneerayiram. He made this icon by solidifying
nine poisonous liquid substances (nava basana) by a peculiar chemical process which
is unknown to present-day chemists. The icon has a divine feature of attracting
lakhs and lakhs of devotees from all parts of the country. The worship of Muruka has
a hoary antiquity. He is praised in Cankam literature, especially
in Tirumurugattruppadai6. It mentions Palani as
Avinankudi7 a place where
goddess Mahalakshmi, Kamadenu, Indra and other deities worshipped Lord Muruka.
By following this divine tradition people worship Lord Muruka in the hillock
for prosperity in this mundane life as well as to realise the secrets of the other
world. Hence, Saint Arunagirinathar8 prays, saying, Igaparasaubhakkiyam Arulvaye.
2.0. There are many margas (paths) worship Lord Muruka. Bhakti is one of
the sure and easiest way of realization. Pada Yatra is one of the forms of bhakti called Nadaippayanam in Tamil. The ultimate aim of Pada Yatra is to receive the blessings of the Lord. But the devotees have many problems in their day to day
life. They believe that Lord Muruka will solve their problems by bestowing His grace
and boon as He is rightly called Kali Yuga Varadan.
3.0. Devotees worship Muruka to solve the following problems:9
to attain mental peace in their family life.
to get relief from the burden of debts.
to cure physical illness and chronic diseases
to get promotion in their jobs.
to get better education and success in their examination.
to releive themselves from witchcraft, sorcery, etc., (pilli-sunya and eval)
to settle the marriage alliances of their sons and daughters.
improvement in their business.
to beget a child preferably a male child.
ot obtain prosperity in their cultivation and agriculture.
for better irrigation and sufficient rain.
to purchase a house or property.
to go abroad.
to get prizes through luck, especially lottery tickets.
to get a medical college seat or engineering college seat or any seat in professional colleges.
to win an election, or court cases.
To fulfil their demands the devotees offer many things as offerings to
their lotus feet of Lord Muruka sometimes in the form of Kavadis.
Offerings of Lord Muruka (kavadis and other things)
Tender coconut kavadi
Navadhanya (paddy and other grains)
Tinai (millet) varagu paddy (the cultivation of these are almost extinct)
Coins, money (which is collected in their saving pots - a mud pot usually
Cock, goat, etc.,
Sandalwood, footwear (almost extinct)
Gold, silver and other articles
Tonsuring the head.
4.0. Methods adopted in Pada yatra
There are many associations (Muruka Bhaktar Pada Yatra Kuzhu - Association of Muruka devotees for Pada Yatra) all over Tamil Nadu and other States both in rural urban areas. The People of Chettinad i.e., Karaikkudi, Devakottai region participate in large number, every year.
They start their Pada Yatra mostly in the month of Thai and Panguni
(January and April) as Thaippoosam and Panguni Uttiram festivals are celebrated
during these months. They assemble in a particulars place and pray Lord Muruka by
singing songs from Muruka literature or saying
"Haro-Hara" or "Vetrivel
Muruganukku Arohara" or "Gnānadandāyudhapānikku
Arohara". The chief priest (guruji) decorates the holy poet containing holy water which is brought from the river of
that area. This is called 'Theerthakkavadi'. The Pada Yatra kuzhu (group) starts its
divine journey by singing songs mostly folk songs of Tamil tradition. The walk
25 to 30 kilometres per day.
They reach Palani in a particular day (preferably on the day prior
to Thaippusam or Panguni Uttiram festival) and stay at the foot of Palani
Hillock. Bathing in the Shanmuga Nadi10 is considered as sacred. Then they reach the
hill temple and offer the holy water and other offerings and worship Lord Dhandayuthapani, who is the bestower of grace and dispeller of ignorance.
5.0. Discipline required for a devotee of Pada Yatra
He must have staunch faith.
He must be very pure. Both physical and mental purity is required. He should not smoke and drink alchocolic drinks.
He must sing divine songs only.
He must carry only minimum requirements (pillows, chapels and other things are not required - even money for expenditure is also not required as the deity will provide everything he needs.
6.0. Significance of Pada Yatra
It provides both physical strength and mental peace
It transforms man from the power-pelf-pleasure oriented ruts to the life
of purity-unity and divinity
Man becomes more ethical and religious
It leads to real bhakti
It strengthens the social and religious unity of the people especially
from rural areas.
Man realises the transitoriness of this world.
It creates a feeling that there is a divinity which helps us.
7.0. Tabulation11 "Showing the different things brought by the devotees at the time of Pada Yatra"
Decorated colourful banner in which the
'om and vel' is drawn in the centre and the peacock and cock on the other two sides.
A pada yatra group is usually accompanied with musical instruments especially folk instruments:-
Siruparai (Small durm)
Kombu (a long metal flute)
Mattalam (which is tied on the bull)
40% of the devotees wear the green colour pilgrim's attire. It may be a symbol of fertility 30% of the people wear light saffron colour (kavi) dress. It may be a symbol of prosperity and peace. 30% of the devotees wear different colour attire.
Kattiyam (a long wodden stick. The person holding the kattiyam is called
Komalis (two or three persons in a group who are wearing masks always entertaining the Pada Yatra group from tedium.
8.0. Tabulation12 showing the demands and anticipation of the Devotees
Percentage for 100 devotees who visit Palani during Thaippoosam and Panguni Uttiram
9.0. I conclude by saying that the Pada Yatra devotees are really preserving
our tradition. There are social stigmas everywhere in the country. Wherever you go
you feel insecurity. Unity is the need of the hour. The Pada Yatra provides unity of
among people belonging to different villages. The villages are really our cultural
centres. They appreciate and preserve our cultural integrity.
One of the 41 villages of Vaiyapurinadu, which is a part of
24 nadus of Kongu Country. It is mentioned as Palainyur in - Palani Sthala Varalarru Adhikodi Vazhi
Vibaram in page 37.
Mystics who attained Siddhis
Lord Muruka is called Dhandayutham in Palani as he is the possessor of
Dhandayutham, a stick, symbol of wisdom.
In Siddha tradition art of deathlessness is mentioned Lord Muruka is the bestower of
youth and beauty. He knows the secret of Kayasiddhi.
Bhogarutan Pulippani Mudaliya Punyarela: Maga Muravamar Vaiga Nagar-Kongu Mandala Sadagam Song
A religious literature of Nakkirar which explains the worship of Muruka at
Tiruvavinankudi which is situated at the foot of Palani hillock.
A mystic poet and author of Tiruppukal, Kandaralangaram and Kandaranubhuti.
There are nearly 98 Tiruppukal hymns available, praising Lord Muruka at Palani.
Information collected by meeting the devotees of Panguniuthiram festival and
A river which is three kilometres away from Palani Temple on the West-Kallaru, Kanaru,
Porundalaru, Pachaiyaru, Palaru and Varataru join together and form the
Shanmuganadhi. See Kumara Visayagir vela Chinnovaiyam, Vaiyapuripallu, p. 64.
Information collected by meeting different padayatra groups consecutively for two
Dr. R. Kannan, M.A., DGT., DYN.,
Department of Indian culture,
A.P.A. College of Arts & Culture,
Palani - 624 602 Tamil Nadu, India