4 December 2014

2014 Deepam Festival. Day Eight—Afternoon: Pichandavar

Lord Shiva as Pichandavar 

One story of Lord Shiva in the form of Pichandavar (beggar) goes like this: 

Punithavathiar as Karaikal Ammaiyar was called (the only woman saint of the 63 Nayanars), was born in a Vaisya family. Her father was Danadathan. He was a wealthy virtuous merchant. He and his dutiful wife prayed to the Lord for a child, and the child the Lord blessed them with they called Punithavathy. From her childhood, Punithavathy had an intense love for Lord Siva and His bhaktas. She was married to Paramadattan, a wealthy Vaisya. Both of them were leading an ideal householder’s life. 

One day Paramadattan sent two mangoes to his house. Punithavathy kept them safely so that she could serve her husband with them at meal-time. In the meantime, a Siva Yogi (in the form of Pichandavar i.e. Lord Shiva as beggar Avatar) appeared before her hungry and completely exhausted. Punithavathy worshipped him and offered bhiksha. As she had nothing to give except the mangoes, she gave one to the guest. At midday Paramadattan returned to his home. His wife served him with one mango, which he so enjoyed that he asked for the other. In a state of turmoil, his wife appealed to the Lord for help. 

When she finished her prayer, mysteriously a mango fell onto the palm of her hand. She gave it her husband. He noted that it was exceptionally sweet and asked her to tell him from where she got it—as he was quite sure it was not the mango he had sent. Punithavathy told him the truth. Paramadattan, however, would not believe this and challenged her to produce another. She prayed again to the Lord and another mango appeared on her palm—which she gave to her husband. But, at once it disappeared from his hand. He was astounded and finally understood his wife’s greatness. He felt that it was a great sin to live with her as her husband. On the pretext of going to a foreign country for trade, he sailed with a ship load of goods. On return, he established himself in a big city in the Pandyan kingdom, married a Vaisya girl and lived happily. He had a daughter by her who he named Punithavathy, after his first wife. 

Punithavathy’s relatives came to know of her husband’s whereabouts and took her there in a palanquin. When Paramadattan heard that Punithavathy was coming to him, he, with his second wife and child, went forward, and fell at Punithavathy’s feet. When the people demanded an explanation, he revealed that he regarded her, not as his wife, but as a Goddess. Punithavathy understood his mental condition, and prayed to the Lord: ‘In that case, Oh Lord, deprive me of my present physical charm and let me have a demoniacal form.’ Her prayer was immediately granted and her charming body was transformed into a skeleton. 

She then went on a pilgrimage to Kailasa. Feeling that it would be a great sin to place her foot on such sacred grounds, she made the last part of the journey on her head. Goddess Parvati was surprised to see Punithavathy’s strange form and her wonderful devotion. Lord Siva told her of Ammaiyar’s greatness. When she went near Him, Lord Siva welcomed her with extreme love and granted her a boon. She fell at His Feet, and prayed: ‘Oh Lord of Mercy, give me sincere, pure, unalloyed, eternal and overflowing devotion unto You. I want no more birth. If, however, I have to take birth here, grant me that I should never forget You. Whenever You dance, I must be at Your feet singing Your praise. This is my only wish.’ Lord Siva granted the boon and asked her to proceed to Tiruvalangadu to witness His dance. She went to that place and spent her life singing the praise of Lord Siva. 

A famous festival is celebrated at Karaikal, Pondicherry State which is known as Mangani (Mango) Festival in which mangoes are thrown onto the street in front of the route Lord Pichandavar (avatar of Shiva) will take in his procession during the Festival 

1 comment:

Janet Rooke said...

Really enjoy all the comments and descriptions. Great job. Thanks