Thiruverkaadu is a significant place of worship as all the three Gods, Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped here. Ka means Brahma, Ru means Rudra or Shiva and Mari means Lord Vishnu. Devi Karumariamman is the presiding deity. Thiruverkaadu means a forest of herbs and roots. These herbs and roots having medicinal properties are used in curing several ailments. In the ancient days, there were several neem trees in this place which makes the place get its name as Verkaadu. Eventually it became Thiruverkaadu.
Devi Karumariamman temple is located in Thiruverkaadu, 18 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. There is also a Shiva Temple located near Devi Karumariamman temple. Lord Shiva is worshipped along with his consort goddess Parvati.
The temple is open from 6.30 am to 12.00 noon and again from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm. Several local buses ply to the temple at regular intervals.
In the sanctum Sanctorum is the image of Devi Karumariamman, who is considered as Swayambu, (one who has emerged on one’s own. Devi is considered as having emerged out of an ant hill). People would worship the anthill as goddess Ambica. The deity appeared in the dream of a devotee and asked for a temple to be built in place of the ant hill. When the ant hill was demolished, they found goddess Ambica as a Swayambu. Thus the deity is known as Karumariamma, as She is not born from the womb. (Karuvu, in Tamil means womb).
Inside the sanctum is seen the face of the deity with a five hooded snake over the head. The image of Devi Karumariamman is tastefully sculpted and always dressed in red colour. Behind the deity is the image of Devi Ambica/ Renuka Parameshwari as Mahakali with a sword, skull, trident and a damaruka in Her hands. There is also a lamp which is ever burning in the sanctum. Worship of the lamp is said to bring prosperity.
There is an ant hill in the temple premises which the devotees worship. Devotees burn incense and worship the ant hill with flowers and offer milk and eggs.
Devi Karumariamma Ant hill which people worship
About the temple
The temple facing east was constructed in 1943. The temple was expanded in 1964. The Kumbabhishekam was performed in 1975. The temple walls and ceiling depict the Dravidian architecture.
At the entrance of the temple, is a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha, under a tree, on the left of the flag post. It is believed that, once when Lord Ganesha was performing Abisheka to Devi Karumariamman, She was immensely pleased with Him. So, the goddess blessed Lord Ganesha with Pratham Puja (i.e puja would be offered first to Him and then to other deities in the temple shrine).
There is also a small pond with a mandap in the centre in front of the temple complex. The tank created by Lord Subramanya is called as Thiruchamber Poigai. Taking a dip in the holy tank is said to rid people of skin related disorders. People will also be blessed with wealth and prosperity.
Inside the temple complex, are the shrines dedicated to Lord Subramanyeswara and His consorts- Valli and Deivani, Navagraha, Lord Srinivasa and Padmavati, Sri Anjenaya, Lord Dakshinamurthy, Angala Parameswari, Uchishta Ganapathi, Gayatri, Mahalakshmi, Rajarajeswari, Savithri, and Maa Durga.
Lord Srinivasa once came to visit His sister- Devi Karumariamma. The Devi then requested Lord Srinivasa to be seated at Thiruverkaadu and bless the devotees who worship Him. Accordingly, the Lord agreed and is worshipped in the temple.
There is also a shrine for Sage Agasthya. All the sages, gods and kings had assembled at Mount Kailash to witness the wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Due to the presence of so many people, the earth went down and Lord Shiva asked Sage Agasthya to go to the South to balance the earth. Lord Shiva granted him the wedding darshan at Thiruverkaadu. Thus in the Shiva temple, Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati can be seen in their wedding pose. There is also a small shrine dedicated to goddess Verkanni who granted darshan to Sage Agasthya.
There is a reference of Thiruverkaadu in Skanda Purana and Kalika Kanda.
Once Devi Karumariamman disguised as a soothsayer visited Lord Surya, the Sun God to predict His future. Lord Surya did not take notice of Her. Angered by the indifference of the Sun god, Devi Karumariamman immediately retreated. Lord Surya lost His glory and the earth plunged into darkness. The Sun god realised His folly and pleaded forgiveness from Devi Karumariamma. Lord Surya also requested Devi that Sunday, (Lord Sun’s day) be celebrated as Devi Kumari Day. On every Sunday, special pujas are held for the goddess. In order to appease the deity, the Sun god said that His rays would fall on Her directly twice in a year. (in Phalguna (March- April) and during (September- October).
Lord Subramanya got His Vel, (the weapon which the Lord holds in his hand) from Devi Karumariamman before His battle with the demon Surapadhma. Thus the place came to be known as Velankaadu.
Once, Devas of Indraloka approached Lord Shiva at Thiruverkaadu to save them from the troubles of the Asuras (demons).
Then Lord Shiva assigned His duties to His consort, Devi Verkanni, till such time He is back. Lord Shiva also gave holy ash from His body and blessed Her. Devi then asked Sage Agasthya for a holy place to carry out the duties of Lord Shiva. Sage Agasthya heard a voice (Aakashvani), that the very place where he was standing was itself a holy place. Goddess Verkanni made Thiruverkaadu as Her abode since then. Inside the temple, there is also a small shrine for Verkanni Amman.
There is a wooden image of Devi Karumariamman known as Marachilai Amman (Marachilai means wooden in Tamil) in the temple premises. Worship of Marachilai Amman is said to protect the devotees’ houses from theft. Thus devotees offer locks to the deity in the belief that, She would safe guard their houses. Devi Karumariamman blesses her devotees with matrimony for those who are unmarried and progeny for childless couple.
Once two sisters, named Sundari and Sarathi were living in the Naga loka (Snake world). Although they were blessed with beauty, they could not find a suitable groom for long. Thus they worshipped Kali mata seeking marital bliss. Then sage Narada appeared before the sisters and advised them to go to Thiruverkaadu and worship Devi Karumariamman. Accordingly, the sisters came to Thiruverkaadu and prayed to Karumariamman. The Devi is said to have instructed the sisters to take bath in the holy tank and drink turmeric water (turmeric applied on the idol of Devi) and perform the puja for forty days. The sisters did accordingly. At the end of the fortieth day puja, they meet prince Sambu and Balan who decided to marry them. Sundari married Sambu and Sarathi married Balan and lived happily.
The turmeric applied on Devi Karumariamman is distributed to devotees. It is said that the turmeric blesses unmarried girls a happy matrimony and childless couple a progeny.
There is a small shrine for Kathaveera Swamy in the temple complex. Kathavarayan was born from the rays of Lord Shiva’s third eye. Devi Karumariamman created a beautiful garden on the banks of the river Ganga and appointed Kathavarayan as watchman. One day, Kathavarayan took away the clothes of women bathing in the river. Devi who was angered with Kathavarayan cursed him. Due to the curse, he had to be born seven times on earth. The King also cursed him to die on a pointed stake. When Kathavarayan was about to die, the Devi took pity on him and instructed him to sit on the North East quarter side and bless all those who come to pray to Her. On Chiatra Poornima, full moon day in April, Kathaveera Swamy is taken in a procession around the temple.
Thiruverkaadu is a poison free place. Poison will not affect people in this place.
Rituals and Festivals
Gow puja or worship of cows is performed everyday in the morning. Archana with Kumkum or Vermilion to Devi Ambica is performed daily between 4.30- 6.00pm.On the new moon day every month, a yaga with red chillies is performed.
Brahmotsavam is celebrated for nineteen days during the month of Thai (January- February). The goddess is decorated in different ways on each day and taken in a procession through the streets around the temple. The last three days, the Thepa Utsava (Tank festival) is held which draws people from nearby towns and cities.
Thaipoosa Latcharchana and Poornima Latcharchana:
Yeka Thina Latcharchana is performed on Thaipoosam (Full moon day in January- February) every year. Poornima Latcharchana is performed on the full moon day of Chaitra (April)
During the month of Masi Magam (January- February), the Devi Karumariamman is taken to the Chennai beach for a holy bath in the sea. After all the puja rituals near the sea is completed, She is taken back to the temple in the evening.
Garuda Seva to Lord Srinivas is performed on the eve of Vaigasi Visakam (eve of full moon day in the month of May). During the festival, Lord Srinivasa is taken in a procession.
Aadi Festival in July- August is one of the important festivals of the temple. Aipasi Annabhisheka is performed to the deity during this festival. The festival begins in July- August and the celebrations continue upto September- October, for a period of twelve weeks. On Sundays, Ksheerabhisheka is performed with 108 pots of milk. In the evening, the deity is taken out in a procession. On the 9th Sunday, the deity is taken in a flower palanquin.
During the Maga Masam, (February- March) the goddess is taken to Bay of Bengal for a holy bath.
Aadi festival is celebrated for twelve weeks from the last Sunday of the Aani month (June- July) during which classical music, dance, and discourse will be arranged. On the 9th Sunday, the deity, Devi Karumariamma will be taken in a car festival.
Navaratri during Ashvija (September- October) is celebrated with great fervour. Devi will bless Her devotees in different Alankara on each day.
During the Karthika Masa (November- December), Skanda Shashti is celebrated with great fervour for eight days. On the seventh day, Soora, the demon is killed symbolically. On the eighth day, the marriage of Lord Subramanya- known as Thirukalyana Utsavam is celebrated.
On the eve of New Year (31st December) every year, the temple is open throughout the day as special pujas are held for the welfare of the people in general.
Social activities of the temple
The temple is engaged in social activities like providing food, clothing and shelter for the needy. Free medical camps are arranged on one Sunday of the month during which free medicines are distributed to the needy. Every Sunday annadanam (food for devotees who visit the temple) is also organised. Temple also conducts mass marriage ceremonies for the needy every year.
Thiruverkadu Karumaariamman Temple