The Nallur Kandaswamy temple is the most famous Hindu temple in Sri Lanka. It is located in Nallur, on the Jaffna peninsula in the northern part of Sri Lanka, about three kilometers from the Jaffna city.
The temple was constructed in 948 AD firstly and the Nallur is the legendary temple of Jaffna reign. The temple was demolished by portugese colonial in the 16th century, and also it was destroyed two times before the 16th century. The temple was constructed on third time by king Shenbagapperumal, the son of sixth Parakramabahu, who was the king of Kotte kingdom. The temple was again destroyed by the portuguese in 1624 AD. However, Ragunada Maapaana Mudaliyar, who was a government officer in dutch colonial, obtained the land from government and reconstructed the temple, which is the fourth and present temple. The golden period of the temple is after 1890. Once Maapana Mudaliyar and his family undertook the temple administration, they have started to renovate the temple gradually. Kumaradasa Maapaana Mudaliyar is the 10th and present custodian of the temple. Kovil ‘Thiruppani’ is introduced by him, which used to raise the temple for current status.
The main god of the Nallur temple is Lord Murugan (other names: Shanmukham, Subramanian, Guhan, Karthigeyan, etc.). Lord Murugan is considered as a god of victory and war because of his intelligent, brave, and personified ability.
Structure of the temple
The god in the central shrine is Lord Murugan in the form of the holy ‘vel’ (spear-like object), and the secondary shrine is Lord Murugan with his wives Valli and Deivayani. The shrines of the Ganesh, Sooriyan, Mahavalli, Gajavalli, Sandana Gopalar, and Bairavar are positioned around it. The temple has two entrances on the east and south side of the temple, the main entrance of the temple is on the east side. The tall gopurams (a sort of traditional conical-shaped towers) are built on top of these entrances. There are six bell towers in this temple. The holy bathing well (Tirthakkeni) on the south side of the temple is well planned and has a stair-case and auditorium. There is a small temple dedicated to Dandayuthapani, one of the incarnations of Lord Murugan. Also, there are monasteries on all four sides of the temple.
The opening hours of the temple are daily from 06:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00. The ticket price they hire for the pujas in Nallur temple is LKR 1.00. The prayers are regularly performed six times per day in this temple. One of the highlights of the temple is the special pujas, which are held daily at 04:30 and 16:30. Also, the regular pujas are held daily at 05:00, 10:00, 12:00, 16:15 (small puja), 17:00 and 18:45
The famous festival of the Nallur temple is a 25th-day festival, and annually it will commence in late August. Countless people from all around the world are participating in this festival to receive lord Murugan’s blessing and charity.
Figure 4: Manjam festival5
The following special pujas are taking place during the festival; manjam, kailasavahanam, velli vimanam, thandayuthepani utsavam, sapparam, the highlighted event of this festival is ther thiruvizha (charioteer festival), theertham (holy water festival), and the thirukalyanam (the divine wedding). The entire Nallur will be decorated during the ther thiruvizha. Another famous festival is thirukkarthikai, which is held in mid of November every year.
Figur 5: Ther thiruvizha festival6,7
Rules and regulations of the temple for devotees (common for all the Hindu temples)
The shoes should be removed in the allocated space, and feet must be wash before entering the temple. The flowers and fruits must be washed outside before offering to shrines. Men are not permitted to wear clothes above the waist level (shirts or t-shirts), and women are advised to wear traditional dresses. Strictly photographs are prohibited inside the temple and keep the mobile phone switched off to avoid disturbing the devotees. While worshipping joint the right and left palms together and place it at chest level. Putting rubbish inside the temple is a sinful act, so always keep the temple and surrounding clean.