Surya and Aruna were the sons of Sage Kashyapa. Surya was beautiful and radiant whereas Aruna was deformed. However, Aruna was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and pleased with his devotion the Lord made him Surya’s charioteer, and proclaimed that the time just before sunrise would be called as Arunodaya.
Surya always looked down upon Aruna and mocked at his body with deformities. When Shiva came to know about it, he cursed Surya to lose his brilliance and become dark. Surya realized his mistake and pleaded with the Lord. The Lord told him to undergo severe penance to regain back his lustre. Lord Sun came to the sacred kshetra called Thirumeeyachur (Tamilnadu) and worshipped Lord Shiva in Gaja Vimana. After months of austerity, when he did not get back his golden lustre, he cried out loudly to the Lord. His loud and thunderous voice disturbed the serenity of the place, and Parvati who was there along with the Lord became very angry and was about to pronounce a curse on Lord Sun.
Sankara immediately intervened and told her that Lord Sun was already under a curse and one more would be devastating for him. Shiva told Parvati to calm down and invoked the “shanta” (peace) aspect in her. She immediately became calm. The Lord gave her the name “SHANTA NAYAKI”. She also became known as SRI LALITHAMBIKA. From Shanta Nayaki’s mouth, the presiding deities of speech, the “Vak-Devis” manifested and glorified her through a thousand beautiful names. These thousand names came to be known as “LALITHA SAHASRANAMA”. Lord Sun was relieved of his curse and with the Lord’s grace, he regained his lost golden lustre. Since the Lord had removed the cloud of darkness covering the Sun, Shiva became known as “Sri Meghanatha”. During the month of Chithirai, for seven days, the sun’s rays fall directly on Lord Meghanatha and this is considered as the devotional offering of Surya to Lord Shiva.
Sri Lalithambika, also known as Sundara Nayaki sits on the “Srichakraraja Simhasana” as the Empress (Maharani) with her right leg folded and placed on the left. The Lalitha Sahasranama which was given out by Vak-Devis was first revealed to Lord Hayagriva, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the “presiding deity of knowledge and intelligence”. Subsequently, Lord Hayagriva taught the Lalitha Sahasranama to his disciple, Sage Agastya, and asked him to worship Sri Lalithambika at Thirumeeyachur. Sage Agastya came to this sacred place and invoked Sri Lalithambika by chanting the Lalitha Sahasranama. The divine Mother was pleased and appeared in front of him as “Navaratnas – the nine gems”. Overwhelmed at this rare and unique darshan, Sage Agastya composed and sang the “Lalitha Navaratna Mala”. From Sri Lalithambika to Hayagriva, and then through Sage Agastya the sacred Lalitha Sahasranama reached the mortals. Even to this day, those who want to learn and chant the Lalitha Sahasranama, come to this sacred place to seek Devi’s blessings.
A unique feature of this place is that even Sri Durga who is standing on mahishasura is “shanta-swaroopini” with a parrot in her hand! It is believed that the parrot carries the messages and pleas of the devotees to Lalithambika. Even to this day, in the evening, parrots can be seen flying from the temple of Durga towards the temple of Lalithambika!
Once Goddess Lalithambika appeared in the dream of a devotee, and asked for a pair of anklets for her bare feet. The devotee got them made and took it to the temple and asked the priests to put the anklets on Devi’s feet. The priest said that it was not possible and there was no provision for the anklets to go round the feet of the deity. The devotee felt sad and asked the priest to atleast place her offerings at Devi’s feet. When the priest took the anklets to offer it at Devi’s feet, he was astonished to find a narrow opening at Devi’s ankles just enough for the chain to go through! Lalithambika wears the anklets on Her feet. Hence devotees who come to the temple offer Devi a pair of anklets – a rare and unique feature of this temple!
On the auspicious VIJAYADASAMI day, in the sanctum, plantain leaves are spread over an area of 15ft in length and 5ft in width. It is divided into three sections. In the first section closest to the deity, 100 kg of sweet pongal (chakkara pongal) is spread. In the next section, 100kg of tamarind rice and in the third section 100 kg of curds rice is spread – all one behind the other. In the middle of the sweet pongal, a huge hollow or trough is created and a large amount of liquid ghee is poured. It is called as “ghee well”. After the special alankara of Sri Lalithambika, the curtains of the sanctum are drawn apart and arati is performed. The reflection of Sri Lalithambika can be seen in the “ghee well!” This unique, most beautiful and awesome darshan is considered to be extremely auspicious. Devotees throng the shrine in large numbers on Vijayadasami day to have a glimpse of Sri Lalithambika in the “ghee well!”
The “ghee-well” represents a pure and satvic mind. The rice pongal around the “ghee-well” represents the gross layers of matter of the individual personality. The reflection of Sri Lalithambika (Parabrahma) in the “ghee-well” (mind) represents the “vision of the Divine” (State of Enlightenment). This is the real and everlasting Victory (Vijaya).
“Sarva mangala mangalye shive sarvartha sadhike; saranye tryambake devi narayani namostute”
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