Untouched by the controversy raging outside and on social media over his religion, it is a routine day at the temple for Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar and his wife Vasuki, in a quiet and leafy spot in Mylapore. There is no ambiguity about his religion here, as the idols witness full Hindu temple rituals every day.
As in the last 36-odd years, K. Arumugam, the priest, performs his duties at the temple where the saint is said to have been born beneath an iluppai tree (Madhuca indica) — the sthala vriksham (holy tree of the temple).
“Like any other temple, we perform abhishekam twice a day, do an alankaram and offer rice in the morning as neivedhyam. If devotees come in with requests for an archanai, we have a potri,” explained Mr. Arumugam, whose father and grandfather performed pujas before him. The idol is draped in a white dhoti, sports a dash of vibhuthi (holy ash), kumkum and sandalwood paste on his forehead.
Special pujas are performed to the idol during the Arubathi moovar festival in Mylapore, the second day of the Chitrai month — Thiruvalluvar day, Chitra Pournami (full moon in the Tamil month of Chitrai) when the wedding of Valluvar and Vasuki is said to have taken place and during the monthly Anusha star — his birthstar.
“We have pongal pots in front of the sanctum sanctorum. The legend is that when Valluvar was asked to marry Vasuki, he is said to have given her some mud and asked her to cook it into food, which she did. On Chitra Pournami, some mud is sprinkled into the pots, after which the pongal boils over,” he explained.
The temple, which is under the control of the HRCE Department is situated on a 25-ground plot. It gets some income from a wedding hall, a paid parking space and a few shops.
“It is part of temples that are under the Sri Mundagakanniamman Temple. Kumbabhishekams were performed in 1973, 1985 and 2001, and the next one will be performed in a couple of months in January-February 2020. Since it cannot sustain itself, funds from other temples are used here, which is the usual practice,” said an official of the Department. The temple is also the venue for meetings of Tamil lovers. Apart from the two idols, the temple also houses idols of Ekambareswarar and Kamakshi Amman, for whom regular pujas are performed by the priest.