Thirunaraiyur or Nachiyarkoil, one of the 108 Divya Desams of Vaishnavite tradition, is situated between Kumbakonam and Tiruvarur.
The presiding deity is - Thirunaraiyur Nambi or Srinivasan
Thayar - Vanchulavalli or Nambikkai Nachiyar
This temple is replete with puranic lore. In this place, which was earlier called Sugandhagiri or Sugandhavanam, a sage called Medhavi did penance on the banks of Manimuthar, wishing that Goddess Mahalakshmi should be born as his daughter.
The Goddess, happy with the devotion of the sage, appeared under the vanchula tree on a Friday, the star being Uthiram in the Tamil month of Panguni. The sage at once knew about the avatar of the Goddess through his meditative powers. He took her under his fold and since she appeared under the vanchula tree, he called her Vanchulavalli.
Mahavishnu became sad without his consort Mahalakshmi in Vaikuntam. He decided to join her in the world in Vyuha Nilai (Sankarshan, Prathyumnan, Anirudhan, Purushotaman and Vasudevan). Since he donned five forms, he bestowed abundant powers on Mahalakshmi and calling himself Srinivasan, entered into a wedlock with Mahalakshmi. This celestial wedding took place here and the divine couple bless the devotees as bride and groom. This sacred spot is also called Krishnaranyam. Since the presiding deities are in kalyana kolam, Brahma worships them every day till date. Special importance is given to thayar in this temple and always the first privilege to given to nachiyar. The prasadam is also first offered to the goddess only and nachiyar leads the procession in hamsa vahanam. As per the promise made by the Perumal with Thayar's father MedhAvi rishi, his daughter - Vanjulavalli thayar should be given importance in all aspects. Hence she proceeds first, even during utsavams. Normally in other divyadesams, thayar woudn't come out of the temple.
There is another deity that attracts the devotees who throng to worship at the temple. We have seen Mahavishnu's mode of transport, Garuda, paying obeisance to the Lord with folded hands in all Vaishnavite temples. But here he is worshipped on a par with the presiding deity. There is a strange phenomenon which occurs when the gods are taken out on procession atop Garuda.
There is a statue of garuda here in a separate sannadhi. During Garuda sevai, the number of people required to carry garuda through each of the five prakarams of the temple keeps doubling from 4 to 128 people. Again while coming inside the temple, the weight keeps decreasing and the number of persons carrying keeps reducing by half to final 4 who carry it into the sannadhi. Worshipping Kal Garuda is said to free devotees from naga dosha and bless childless couples.
It is the only temple among the 108 divyadesams of srivaishnavas where God Naraiyur nambi has the conch and charka in front of his face. Also, only in this temple, there are idols of the presiding deities of the 108 divyadesams of Srivaishnavas. Another specialty of the temple is only in this divyadesam, there is brahma in standing posture inside the temple.
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