Introductory note of Ekambareswar Temple:
The huge temple that finds its location in Tamil Nadu’s Kanchipuram is one of the finest manifestations of the Dravidian architecture. The Ekambareswarar Temple dates back in time to 600 AD. The temple was originally built by the kings of the Pallava dynasty. After this, the structure had undergone a few rounds of renovation. The Chola kings had the complex rebuilt, and later on during the British regime, a devotee by the name of Vallal Pachiyappa Mudaliar contributed significantly to the cause of expansion and redevelopment.
Spiritual and religious significance of the temple:
The temple that celebrates the essence of Lord Shiva happens to be an acclaimed Pancha Bootha Sthalams. There are four such temples that represent the four respective natural elements (water, sky, fire, and wind). Ekambareswarar Temple Chennai represents the earth element. The temple celebrates the essence of the Prithvi Lingam that was created by the Mother Goddess Parvati. The most notable feature is the simultaneous existence of the Lord and the Goddess Parvati in the same shrine. The lingam confers blessing on the devotees and grants their wishes. You can extend your offering to the Shiva Lingam for the fulfillment of special wishes. The phallic manifestation ensures fulfillment of both materialistic as well as the non-materialistic wishes. From being blessed with progeny, money and landed property to acquiring ultimate emancipation; you can acquire everything by performing one of the six pujas.
Presiding deity of the temple:
Lord Shiva or the Ekambareswarar Temple who takes the form of Prithvi Lingam happens to be the predominant deity. Though the phallic representation of the Lord happens to be the cult figure of worship; it is customary to pay obeisance to Lord’s consort, Kamakshi Amman. But the river sand structured lingam that was molded by the Goddess is the main fulcrum of worship and attraction.
Details of deities:
Inside the main sanctum, you will come across the following idols. The phallic representation or the ekambareswarar temple lingam presents the look of a cone. The topmost part of the image resembles a cone. You already know that river sand went into the making of this lingam. The main sanctum not only contains the sand made representation, but also contains Ekambareswarar idol together with his consort. The sanctum includes a panel by the name of Somaskana. The panel encloses the dancing posture of the Lord. The consort Parvati accompanies him, on the left, and an elephant-headed image of the Lord Ganesha is placed right in the front.
Existence of other shrines:
Apart from the main shrine, you will come across a few more shrines inside the temple premise. Mention needs to be made of the Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan that is inside the premise. It includes the image of the Lord Vishnu, as the ‘Vamana’. The religiously significant mango tree (Mavadi Sannidhi) is also considered as a separate shrine. Besides, you can see around the shrines that have been dedicated to the Shahashra Lingum and the Vadrakali Amman.
The traditionally practiced rituals:
There is something unique about the daily practice of rituals. Six different sets of rituals are practiced, on a regular basis, and they are known by the following names. Ushad Kalam, Uchi Kaalam, Kaalasanthi, Sayaratchai, Ardhajamam, and Pradosham are the respective sets of religious offering. The official ekambareswarar temple timings cover the duration of six and a half hours in the morning. The morning proceedings start at six and culminate in the afternoon at 12:30. The evening proceedings start at half past four and end around half past eight.
Special festive occasions:
It will not be an exaggeration to say that the colorful festivities of some forms or the other keep occurring throughout the year. Navarathri, Adi Krittikai, Kartikai Deepam, Avani Moolam, Ani Tirumanjanam, and Thai Poosham are some of the noted festive occasions. Special mention needs to be made of the Panguni Uthirum. The latter takes place either in the month of March or that of April. The date forecast made by the almanac is taken into the consideration. The festivity covers the time duration of thirteen days. The festival marks the marriage solemnization of the presiding deity. Marriage Solemnization of Shiva and Parvati takes place amid the chanting of the sacred hymns and the recitation of the religious poems composed by Tirumurais. Tourists and pilgrimage are also found pouring in, in large numbers during the celebration of the Vaikashi Vishakam. But the occasion that marks the holy nuptial of the predominant deity is the leading fulcrum of attraction.
Pilgrimage value of the temple
As a Shaivaite or for that matter as a devout follower of Lord Shiva; you will definitely recount the pilgrimage value of this esteemed Panch Bhuta Sthala. The pilgrimage value centers on the religious and spiritual significance of this holy shrine. People come in large numbers during the special occasions and otherwise for paying obeisance to the Prithvi Lingam. The gesture leads to the fulfillment of worldly wishes, and it is claimed, that visit to the temple also leads to the spiritual redemption and the ultimate salvation from the bondage of life and death.