There are three days previous to the beginning of the 10 day Karthigai Deepam Festival. The first pre-day celebrates Durgai Utsavam, the second day Pidari Utsavam and the third and final day observes Vinayakar and Chandikeswarar Utsavam.
The panchamoorthies taken in procession throughout the celebratory Karthigai Deepam Festival are: Vinayakar, Arunachaleswarar-Unnamalai, Amman, Kartikeya and Chandikeswarar. Below is information about Chandikeswarar (who represents all devotees) and and explanation why he follows the other murtis (idols) as their steward.
“Chandikeswarar, a devotee of Lord Shiva was born in the village of Seynalur on the banks of the river Manni in the Chola country, as a young lad named Vicharasarman.
He was the son of a pious and learned Brahmin named Yajnadatta. Vicharasarman was of great intelligence. One day when the lad was going to school, he saw a cowherd brutally assaulting a cow. Angry at the behaviour of the cowherd, young Vicharasarman took upon himself the duty of tending the cows of the village, to which the villagers acceded. From that day the cows looked happier and yielded more milk. More than the cow’s udders could hold. Vicharasarman, seeing that the milk was being wasted, collected it in vessels, set up lingams made of sand and poured this excess milk to bathe the lingas with intense piety for Shiva.The cowherd who had lost position on account of this Brahmin boy, saw him in this act and found this a good cause for denouncing him. He immediately brought it to the notice of the village elders as well as Yajnadatta, Vicharsarman’s father. The father saw his son pouring milk on small sand mounds and without investigating, kicked one of the lingas in anger. Young Vicharasarmana came out of his reverie and cut off the leg of his father with an axe with which he had kicked a linga.
Shiva was pleased with the devotion of this boy and he appeared in person along with Parvati his consort, before the boy. Shiva embraced him and made him in charge of his ganas (devotees or followers). He was also made the steward of his household, naming him Chandikeswarar.”
Chandesa is the embodiment of devotion and piety and the place he attained is considered the highest a devotee of Siva is privileged with.
|Lord Vinayakar on rat vahanam, Chandikeswarar on cow vahanam|
|Giving darshan at Alankaram Mandapam in front of Raja Gopuram, Big Temple|
|Moving away from the Alankaram Mandapam on way to perform circumambulation of the Mada Veedhis (Temple perimeter streets)|
|Chandikeswarar following Lord Vinayakar at beginning of procession|
|Performing circumambulation of Mada Veedhi Streets|