The Main Gopuram
The Name is music to our ears. Having spent most summer holidays of our childhood here, at the palatial homes (Pitchakattalai estate) of our grandparents, legendary icons of the yesteryears and demigods for the people of this quaint little village on the Mayavaram (now Mayiladuthurai) – Nagapattinam highway, the very mention of Tirukadaiyur is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for my cousins, my brother and me.

Today, Tirukadaiyur is synonymous with the Sashtiapthapoorthi (60th) or Sadhabishekam (80th) birthday celebrations, and the transformation of the little town from a small and financially insignificant hamlet during my grandparents regime hardly a couple of decades ago, to one of the financial super powers of the Tanjore district, is simply not folklore, but also an indication of the longevity of the average Indian life span, leading to hordes of them thronging this place.

Why Tirukadaiyur for this occasion? Legend has an answer in the form of one of the most interesting and revolutionary incidents in history. It unfolds like this:

A zillion years ago, when Gods roamed the universe at will, on their exotic all terrain vehicles like the Pushpaka Vimana, there lived a wise old sage – Mrikandu. Yearning, for an offspring, he took up the toughest of penances to plead to the creator to grant him his wish. The lord finally did concede but did it with his customary little googly (there’s nothing called a free or easy lunch, ain’t it ?). He gave him a choice of a ‘100 sons, who would be jackasses living a 100 years or one wizkid, living all of 16 years’. No prizes for guessing the choice Mrikandu took and Markandeya appeared on stage. True to the lord’s grant, the little boy grew up to be an epitome of a perfect son, a brilliant scholar and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Life was all hunky dory for the sage and his family.
Death of Death

Came year 16, and it was time up for Markandeya. Enter Yama, with the death warrant but the brilliant kid was determined to go down fighting. Running hard, he threw himself into the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord and hugged the Linga (a iconic representation of the lord). Yama, following closely on his vehicle (an equivalent of a Harley - Buffalo) made repeated appeals for him to surrender which had no effect. Fuming with rage, Yama threw his life sucker noose (Pasa Kayir), which landed around Markandeya and to the horror of the universe - around the Linga as well – a cardinal error of judgment by Yama. The lord burst out of the Linga and with a swiveling left foot kick, knocked the wind out of Yama's sails. Thus this place is synonymous with ‘Conquering Death’ and hence the place for longevity prayers and belief that long life is granted by this deity to this day.

Back to the legend, with the lord of death out of action, the earth was overburdened with the imbalance of the equilibrium of life and death. The earth became so heavy, Bhoomadevi, the lord of earth,  could not bear the weight anymore. It was her turn to appeal to the lord to restore sanity and the lord conceded by reviving Yama to life, and all of them lived happily – ever after.

The Danish Fort
Fond memories of this place are etched in our memories of life in this historic place. We were blessed to have grandparents who were loving, caring and overwhelming with their status in society as well. We were fortunate to have been imparted values of culture, history, hospitality and heritage. Most of us today, recite many of the veda scripts including the 100 sonnets of the “Abirami Anthathi” though whether it made sense to us (probably with the exception of my brother) is another question. We were privileged to be initiated to the various nuances of worship, rituals especially around temple events, festivals and celebrations. We were fortunate to be exposed to various cultures and history – both Indian and international around this place. From the diverse cultures of the Danish settlement of Tranquebar (10 Km), with its legendary synagogues, forts etc, to the French colonies of Nagapattinam hardly 35 Kms away. Annual visits to Velankanni (30 Kms)– the holy shrine of the Christians to Nagore Darga (25 Kms) the Mecca of the Indian Muslims imbibed the sense of secularism at a very early age.
Tirukadiyur is also famous for its neighbourhood. Kaveripoompatinam or Poompuhar as it is better known today, a few Kilometers away from Tirukadiyur was the historical place where the famous Silapathigaram played out. A famous port town of the past, the ruins of the light house stands testimony to its glorious past. It is also a famous estuary, where the Cauvery blends into the sea. 
A place so unique that the state government has erected a monument to preserve the heritage. Our summer vacations at the guest houses in this famous town are now folklore.

Vaishu at the Kalaikoodam
Even today, an aura of mystic charm surrounds our ancestral home at Tirukadiyur. It is like visiting a historic monument, where you are transported back in time, engulfed in a time warp where we relive the past with fond memories swamping us with overwhelming emotions.

Tirukadiyur – you will be etched in golden memories in the annals of our lives . . .

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