Thiruvoodal Festival is celebrated in the month of Thai approximately on January 16th during Pongal (which has to do with the movement of the sun from the southern to the northern hemisphere). Legend has it that the Lord in answer to a promise given to Parvati appears on this holy day (Uttarayana) to dance on one foot. He says; ‘On Uttarayana holy day, I will do the dance when the sun rises.’
The word 'Thiru' signifies; deity, sacred, holy and wealth and the word 'Voodal' actually means 'tiff' or 'petty quarrel', and represents the friction between the male and female in a love relationship which is consciously exacerbated. The distinguishing mark of Voodal is that it should arise and stay only for a brief period and not be prolonged as its focus is the bliss when the Voodal is withdrawn.
The poem Thirukkural says in the chapters dedicated to 'kama' which is concentrated on the relationship between man and woman and the establishment of household and children, that; 'The way to amplify bliss through desire or relationship is through voodal. That ever present bliss you can only see when the tension comes and is withdrawn. It is like salt to food – beyond a certain limit it is lost completely.' Thirukurral explains the tiff as 'creation of a tension, which when released you have a bliss that is always present. It is the Voodal that helps one focus upon that.'
Thus Thiruvoodal is enacted by Shiva and Parvati to convey social truths to their devotees. It takes place; inside the compound of Arunachaleswarar Temple, on the streets delineating the perimeter of the Temple, and on the girivalam pathway itself; by iconic representations of Shiva and Parvati. Thiruvoodal Festival is regarded in such high esteem that one of the perimeter roads has earned the special name Thiruvoodal Street by this convention.
From the early hours Abishekam is performed at the Temple to start the procession by 5 a.m. At which time an iconic representation of the Lord (and Parvati) is carried by attendants on a palanquin with a huge sunshade.
|Darshan of the Gods|
The palanquin first visits the Kodi Kampathu Nandi and gives darshan as Viratswarupa and afterwards separates into three parts representing; Brahma, Siva and Vishnu before leaving the compound of Arunachaleswarar.
|Procession through Temple Compound|
After Blessing the Nandhis en route the Holy Couple of Periya Nayakar (Protagonist Of the Universe) and His Consort find their way out through the thitti vaasal - a small entry at the east of the Temple compound, instead of leaving through the main Temple gate known as the Raja Gopuram.
On blessing the Sun at the thitti vaasal the procession goes around the temple perimeter thrice. During which the actual staging of the Divine Quarrel is re-enacted on the streets; the first time as Brahma, second as Vishnu and the third round as Rudra.