Piety and Pageantry of the Nalloor Kanthaswamy Temple Annual Festival

Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai


Divine view of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple

mp3:Thirupugazh~Thullumathavedkai~Nadhaswaram Instrumental~Rendered by Sheik Chinnamoulana


Golden temple of Jaffna


Pink Parade: Deities dressed up in pink colour during the Nallur Temple Festival

mp3:Eppadi Paadinaro~Composed by Suddhaananda Bhaarathi~Rendered by D.K. Pattammal

mp3:Eppadi Paadinaro~Rendered by Nithyasree Mahadevan

mp3:Eppadi Paadinaro~Saxophone Instrumental~Rendered by Kadri Gopalnath

mp3:Eppadi Paadinaro~in Violin by Kunnakkudi Vaithiyanathan

As a child, I have always been delighted and thrilled to attend the annual temple festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy temple during the second term school holidays. As a pampered only girl child in the family, I have been treated like a “princess of the peninsula” whenever I am surrounded by my family and the extended family.

Attending the vibrant Nallur temple festival brings back everlasting and enchanting memories. 25 days of festival, dressed up in 25 colourful and different “Kanchipuram” silk long skirt upto the ankle with matching blouse with decorations and designs beautifully and specially stitched by my mother, glittering dainty gold jewellery, matching pottu on the forehead, and jasmine garland on my short hair, bring back beautiful and boundless memories.


Festival Favourite: Girl children playing with wet sand and making sculptures

Numerous gifts during the festival ranging from beautiful spring bangles, colourful balloons, toys, pencil sharpeners, whistles, and different flavours of ice cream kept the gifts list growing, and filled the suitcase. A must festive nibbler is hot and roasted peanuts, and corn neatly filled in a bag either made out of a newspaper or an exercise book. We used to sit on white sand especially filled in for the festival with the family at night around the outer path of the temple under the moonlight, after the completion of a beautiful procession of divinely dressed deities.

I can divinely recollect my childhood memories of listening to lively Bhajan singers who follow the five deities, getting drenched during the water cutting ceremony which takes place on the following day of the chariot festival, and getting crushed in between an instantly and constantly moving a fleet of devotees, getting separated from my parents, got lost many times during the final days of the festival, and had been reunited through repeated loud speaker announcements.


Lively Bhajan singers


Gold painted statues


A Hindu devotee hangs on hooks on A9 highway


Hindu priests too are dressed up in pink on thet particular day of the festival


Blessed parade of deities


Vibrant festival at night

The devotees express the power of devotion through various ways – women carry clay pots of burning camphor in their hands in a procession, bare chest men roll themselves up on the sandy and rough grounds, and men hang on metal hooks while either sides of their mouths and the whole bodies are pierced with metal divine items. Fervour of the festival is magnificent and unforgettable.

Yet another memory of the divine festival is my feet getting burnt in the hot sun while walking barefoot to the temple everyday. As a family tradition, we used to g.o to the temple in a car, and walked around the temple’s inner and outer paths without the footwear. But, after 25 days of an intense festival, I had to instantly treat the sun burnt feet before the school started in order to wear the socks and shoes.


Rare view of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Memories of enduring the longest journey on Yazhdevi train, still stays afresh in my heart and mind, and I terribly miss the Yazhdevi journey!. Family members and neighbours in Jaffna visiting and shower us with traditional gifts. We used to carry bundles of freshly plucked drumsticks, mangoes jack fruit and homemade delicious vegetarian meals beautifully wrapped in banana leaf from Jaffna to Colombo. I am eagerly looking forward to the longest and memorable Yazhdevi train journey in the near future.

Courtesy: PassionParade

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Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar in Nallur

mp3:Thohai Mel Ulavum Kanthan~Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar’s song rendered by Seergazhi S. Govindarajan ~


“Kaavadi” for the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple Festival


Power of Devotion: Hindu men hang on metal hooks to fulfill their vows


Along the red and white lines at Nallur Temple

via flickr.com/photos/passionparade

Pink Parade

Deities and priests dressed up in pink colour for that particular day of the festival called “Vel Vimaanam” or “Thandaayuthapaani Vizha”.

Final Touch

An artiste putting a final touch to the “Sapparam” before the parade begins

Hour on Horses

Beautifully decorated deities take a ride on wooden horses during the “Maampazha Thiruvizha” of the Nallur Temple annual festival

mp3:Muthamizhil Paada Vanthen, Muruganaiye Vanangi Nindren~Rendered by Vani Jeyaram

Wider View

A view of Chariot and Sapparam of Nallur Temple in Jaffna

Tall and Travel

“Sapparam” festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna.

Flames of Fire

Flames of fire lead the colourful procession during “Sapparam” festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Packed with People

“Sapparam” festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Proceeding for Procession

Lord Aarumugaswamy leaves the temple to be paraded on a chariot

Power of Devotion

A Hindu devotee hangs on metal hooks and carries out his vows during the chariot festival of Nallur Temple in Jaffna

mp3:Malmaruga Ezhil Vel Muruga Neeye~Rendered by “Emperor of Pop Music” A.E. Manoharan

Hand in Hand

Hindu male devotees hang on metal hooks to fulfill their vows during the chariot festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Gorgeous in Green

Lord Aarumugaswamy is dressed up at the end of the chariot festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple

From Bombs to Flowers

Bell Helicopter scatters flowers during the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple Chariot Festival in Jaffna

Camphor and Chariot

Women carrying burning claypots of camphor during the chariot festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple

Enchanting with Elegance

Elegant chariot festival of Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Early with Eager

Hindu men roll themselves up on the ground to fulfill their vows duringhe Chariot Festival of Nallur Temple in Jaffna

mp3:Ulagamengum Vazhum Uyirgall Enathu Sonthame~Rendered by Pithukuli Murugadas

Flags for Festival

Festive view of the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

Dusk View

Dusk view of the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple’s Southern tower

mp3:Enna Kavi Paadinalum Unthan Manam Irangavillai~Composer: Anayampatti Adhisheshayyar~Rendered by O.S. Arun

Divine and Devotion

Hindu devotees come in large numbers to Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple in Jaffna

mp3:Annai Ennum Uravu Kooda Puthiyathu~Rendered by T.M. Soundararajan

Play at Twilight

Children play with wet sand, and making sculptures in the compound of the Nallur Kanthaswamy Temple

Temple and Tower

Nalluar Kanthaswamy Temple

~ Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai can be reached at ~ dushi.pillai@gmail.com