Swamy Sadaiudayar and Goddess Porchadaichi
Our Kula Deivam or Ancestral Deity –
This was the second leg of our South Trip this year (in case you haven’t read my earlier travelogue on Kanchipuram – Kamakshi Amman Temple)
Let me share with you an interesting story (true) behind our Ancestral Diety, Porchadaichi and Sadai Udayar Shasta. (Porchadaichi means Golden Hair)
Firstly, let me begin by explaining what exactly is a Kula Deivam (Ancestral deity).
What is exactly a Kula Deivam?
A Family diety which has been worshipped for years together (the entire family tree) by all the family members over generations. The male members are usually the torchbearers of this information as the son’s have to pass it down to their kids & grand kids to carry on the tradition to ensure that the family deity is always worshiped & visited once a year at least & offered pooja, archana (offerings) etc.
Special occasions like marriage etc doesn’t happen without the blessings of this deity. Kula Deivam or Ancestral Deity is responsible to take care & bless the entire clan.
Now, since Kula Deivam or ancestral deity belongs from the father’s side, when a woman marries & comes to a particular family (gothram changed), amongst other things, the Kula deivam of husband’s side becomes the top priority & also now her Kula Deivam. Her maternal side Kula Deivam will be managed by her brothers / cousins etc in her family & it is no longer is her responsibility.
In the case of this temple, there is a twist. The daughters / granddaughters in the family post marriage should also follow the tradition of worshipping this deity apart from adopting their husband’s Kula Deivam. They also need to pass this information down to their children to do so. Now this is where everything goes south & this is exactly where my Father in law’s family (one whole generation to be precise) forgot about this temple completely.
Now comes the more interesting part of the story. My husband, Narayan was looking for a suitable match to get married since a very long time. No alliance deemed fit & there were always some issues when something did materialize to an extent.
Like a typical Palakkad Iyer traditional & superstitious family, his mom suggested that an Astrologer should be consulted. Like a good son (absolutely no doubts on that one), my husband went & consulted an astrologer & boy what he discovered. He was told about a kula deivam / deity that the family had forgotten completely & hence no developments are happening in your life (his mother was also bed ridden at that time with several health issues). His only suggestion was to find out the deity & immediately seek the divine’s blessings.
Now completely heartbroken & confused my husband embarked upon the journey to search for something he had no idea about. He went to his father’s ancestral village, inquired with few relatives who weren’t of much help as they had no idea any such deity existed.
In the meantime, his mother passed away. After several months, he renewed his search and went back to his ancestral village. After much searching and several inquiries later, with the Divines grace, he received a lead from a very elderly person to his great-grandfathers cousin’s family in a nearby village who might know about the family deity.
Finally, he located this family and further found the location of the temple (I am talking about the year 2010) after several months of effort. In our custom, we are not allowed to visit our ancestral temple when there is a death in family for a year. As his mother had passed away, he could not visit the temple but managed to get a photo of the deity & kept the same in our pooja room. Within a month, he received my photographs thru a website, and we got engaged in a couple of months. After his mother’s first death anniversary, he finally went to the temple, kept our wedding card & also prayed to come back again with his wife (me) to the temple, post our marriage which we did. His marriage which was getting stalled for more than 5 years materialized within a couple of months after worshiping the photo of the deity!!! Miracles do happen!!
Now I knew about the story during our courtship period & was very eager to visit the temple & seek blessings. But the temple has a rule – No Women allowed. Yes, you heard that right!
From the year 2011, every year, Narayan & me visit this temple. I go up to the temple premises & wait for my husband to complete his pooja which takes anywhere between 2- 3 hours.
At home, every Friday we keep a prasad as offering called Kaaparisi (Raw rice with jaggery, cardamom powder & dry ginger powder). I wait at the temple with the faith that someday I will get to see the Goddess & Shasta. Well, Faith is all I have!!
Read the details about the temple below (from the temple website)
The Temple of Sri Porchadaichi and Sri Sadaiudayar Sastha is situated amidst the paddy fields surrounded by hills on the old Koprathope Road that connects Kalakkadu, Papanasam and Kizha Ambur villages skirting the Western Ghats. It is not a temple built according to the Agama sastras. There is no flag mast or prakarams. No utsavam is performed or festivals celebrated. And it has a moving tale behind its origin.
A brahmin of Kizha Ambur for Kalakad was accompanying his pregnant daughter home for delivery. Dusk fell as they approached Pappankulam, it started drizzling and so did the girl’s labour pain. The father desperately prayed to Shastha and looked around for help. Finding a hut nearby, he approached it hoping to find a woman. there was none and he returned crestfallen. But to his delight and relief he found that his daughter had delivered a boy and dark skinned woman had played midwife. The girl did not know the woman’s identity.
Sure that it was none other than Shastha who had appeared as a harijan woman to save his daughter’s life, the brahmin profusely thanked Him and offered whatever he had with him raw rice and coconut that the girl was taking home from her husband’s place.
He heard a voice that said that it was the deity, Sri Sadaiudayar of the temple located nearby, that had helped the girl and that she would give birth to eight sons all of whom would serve the lord of that temple. The oracle came true and the tribe, known as ettu pillai (8 sons) kootathar and matrilineal off springs became staunch devotees of the Lord.
Sri Sastha of the temple is seen as an endearing child, in a standing posture. The members of the family, spread across the country, visit the temple now and then to offer worship. In the olden days Sri Sastha, Sri Raja Rajeshwari and the other deities were housed in thatched sheds.
Kapparisi (Raw rice with jaggery, cardamom, dry ginger powder) is the only prasad. Only a learned priest from the family does the pooja once in a day and that too in the morning. Devotees do not visit the temple after 5 p.m.
During thai month all the members of the family (adimai as they are referred to) gather and offer worship in the night on all Fridays. (An interesting custom is being followed since long ladies at any age are not permitted to visit the temple at any time). The Harijans are also invited to take part in the festivities.
PS – while I wait for Narayan to return from his pooja, nature becomes my best company. I also indulge in plucking mangoes from the trees & bring them back home to enjoy (pics below)
Nearest station to reach – Tirunelveli (temple is located approximately 45 mins to an hour from Tirunelveli town). You can also travel to Chennai by air & then take an overnight train journey to tirunelveli (like we do).
Stay – We prefer staying at Hotel Apple TTree since last so many years for their excellent service & lovely food.
Pictures Courtesy – Narayan Neelakantan