Lord Shiva in the temple is a swayambumurthy. There are two Goddesses in the temple against one normally seen in Shiva temples. They are in separate shrines. There is a hole on the body of Shivalinga made by a Karkadam -Cancer (Nandu in Tamil) a sea creature and an injury scar caused by Indira.
Magha, Poorva Phalguni, Uthra Phalguni (1)
Sri Vanchinatha Swami Temple, Sri Vanchiam-610 110, Tiruvarur district.
Phone: +91-4366 291 305, 94424 03926, 93606 02973.
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 3.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
As a tradition, Theerthavari is performed only on the final day of Brahmmotsavam in Shiva temples. Here it is performed on the second day in the temple tank itself during the Masi Magam festivals in February-March. Lord Vanchinathaswami comes in procession on the Ema Vahan. On the final day, pujas are dedicated to Lord Muruga. Theerthavari is celebrated on Karthikai Sundays too in November-December. A 10 day festival is also celebrated following Aadi Pooram in July-August. Special Aradhanas and abisheks are performed on Sundays.
Yama the God of Death felt very sad that he was assigned the job of taking the life of people while there are many jobs of happy nature. He went to Tiruvarur and spoke his sorrow to Lord. Lord Shiva directed him to go to Sri Vanchiam and pray there. Yama performed penance. Pleased with his penance, Lord Vanchinadheswarar appeared before him on the Masi month Bharani Star day in February-March and asked what he wished.
Yama said that he had been assigned the job of taking the life of people thus incurring their hatred and harsh criticism and he was suffering the Brahmmahati dosha caused by his job duty. Lord Shiva assured him saying that in future, people would attribute the cause of death due to diseases, age and accidents and they would not blame him. Lord also instructed Yama that he should permit only those who are less sinners and they should not have rebirth. Lord also emphasized that Yama should make their end peaceful. He also granted him the status of Kshetra Palaka and the devotees would worship him first and then only the Lord. Accordingly, the first puja is dedicated to Yama only in this temple each day.
During the eclipse times also, the doors of the temple is open though as a tradition in other Shiva temples they are closed. Special abishek is performed to Lord of Sri Vanchiam during this time.
Mother Ganga once sought a solution from the Lord to cleanse Herself of the sins left on Her by those who bathed in the river. Lord directed Her to pray at a place where even Yama the God of Death was blessed by Him. Accordingly, Ganga left just a small power of Her in the original Ganga and merged with the sacred spring here with the remaining 999 parts of Her holiness. Hence, the Theertha is called Gupta Ganga. It is still believed that She is residing in the theertha secretly. This Theertha is considered holier than Ganga. Presently, it is known as Muni Theertha. During Masi Magam, a festival is celebrated in this Theertha also.
To punish those who participated in Daksha' Yagna for which He was not invited with a motive to insult Him, Lord Shiva sent Veerabadra to destroy the Yajna. Sun-Surya was one of the participants. Due to Lord's anger, he lost his shining and begged pardon for a relief. He performed rigorous penance here and regained his brightness with the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Lord Vishnu desirous (Vaanchithal in Tamil) of Mahalakshmi (Sri) sought the help of Lord Shiva to realize His wish, hence the place came to be known as Sri Vaanchiam. As Lord Shiva is all dominant in the temple, there is no shrine for Navagrahas or the nine planets. Yama and his assistant Chitra Gupta are in a same shrine in the southeast corner-Agni corner- in the temple. Devotees worship Yama with garlands made of Vada a popular dish of Tamilnadu. People also conduct in the shrine their birthday pujas and homas seeking longevity. Mother Mahishasuramardhi with Her eight hands blesses the devotees in the temple.