Ganapathi Agraharam,Thanjavur District

There are just a handful of villages or towns where the presiding deity is Lord Ganesa.Most important among them is Ganpathi Agraharam,a beautiful and fertile village surrounded by Cauvery on one side and Kollidam on the other .It is on the bus route to Thiruvayyaru from Kumbakonam.The village is very ancient as can be seen from the copper plates and records in the archives.

There is a reference to this village in Agasthiar Naadi which describes thevillge on the banks of the river Cauvery-as “Chaturvedhi mangalam Aingaran aalayam” Ainkaran is one of the names of Sri Ganapathy and it is believed that it refers to the present Ganapathy Agraharam.

Sri Parmacharyaal of Kanchi was very fond of this village and visited this place three or four times. He used to say that Ganapathi Agraharam was much older than Thiruvalanchuzhi another nearby village known for the famous Ganesha temple .

The lands to the extent of 160 Velis including both the wet lands and dry lands belonged to the Smartha Brahmins of this village. These lands were divided into 40 parts and each part would have a Nattamaikarar for each part known as Sethi.There used to be a chief Naataamaikarar who would be the chief of all Naattamais.These Naattamais would be looking after the common welfare of the village and look after common works like irrigation canals ,health and welfare activities and maintenance of temples.

Ganapathy Agraharam , was also known as Karaiiyeettu gramam because of the unusual and noble practice of dividing the farm lands of the village among the land owners.

The farm lands used to be divided –not just the basis of the acreage but on the basis of the yield too The ownership of lands would be decided once in 11 years by lots drawn in front of the presiding deity-Mahaganapathy.In this process, a land lord who has a land of say five acres nearer the village, may through the lot may get a land –in a different place next time. The land he gets may also not be of the same area or acreage, but with the same yield. The land lords used to accept this arrangement without a murme-as they consider this as the divine order of Sri Maha Ganapathi.

On the day of” Karaiyeedu” that is on the day of division and distribution of lands ,the whole villge would have a festive look with Bhiashakams,Aradhanis for Lord ganapathy.One hundred and Eight coconuts would be broken in front of Sri Ganapathi before starting the process of drawing the lots.The village land lords would gladly accept what is allotted to them through this lot and start the cultivation accordingly. For the villagers ,Mahaganapathy is the lord, judge and savior. Who can never go wrong and whose will should prevail at any cost.

On the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi,the whole village will gather at the temple and the year’s account of incme and expenditure would be read, Account will be audited .

In Ganapathy Agraharam,there are no properties for the temple as all the people of the village are considered as Ganapathy’s property.

When properties are divided among the heirs of a land lord,Lord ganapathy would be considered a partner and a part of the property would be submitted to Him. These properties will be administered by those who spend the income from the properties for the temple festivals.

Another practice prevalent in this village is to name the farm lands .MahaGanapathy,Mookarai Pillayar,Visalakshi,Annapoorani,Varadan,Nagareswaran,Thirumalayan gundu,Pillayar Thurthy,Raman,KaraimelAzhgar,Silambosai are some of the names by which a farm land is called.

On Vinayaka Chaturthy day,the common practice of worship all over South India and elsewhere too,is to make idols of Ganesha with clay and perform Pooja at home. Strangely ,no such practice exists in Ganpathy Agraharam.All nivedhanams made are taken to Sri MahaGanapathy Temple and offered to the deity.No separate poojas at home ,no Kozhukkattais at home and no worship or visarginam (immersion) .

Lord Ganapathy is the supreme Lord here and everything is dedicated to Him at the temple only till the early part of the last century,the MahaGanapathy temple was just a small temple with a brick structure as garbagriha.Attempts to extend the temple met with inexpiicable obstacles. Sidha Purushar ,Kuzhandayanamda swamikalsaid that the moolasthanam should never be moved from the original site even for balaalayam.he suggested that the works or thiruppani should be carried out after hiding the Moolasthanam without moving it.The obstacles vanished and the Kumbhabhishekam was performed on successful completion of the proposed extension.

Brahmotsavam is celebrated for nine days following Vinayaka Chaturti with the joyful participation of the entire village with Veda paraayanam,Thirumurai paaraayanam and Nadaswara cutcheri.Music concerts by eminent artistes are held.

Another noteworthy event in the temple is what is known as Mandalabishekam.Startring on the last Friday of Karthikai ,Aapathutharana japam is performed for 45 bdays for the welfare of the entire world and the people of the village in particular.

Courtesy: G.N.Sundaram

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