Aiyanar Temples are located at the peripheries of rural villages in Tamil Nadu. The inhabitants of the villages have an annual festival in his honour, usually after the harvest.
Iconography of Lord Aiyanar
In the temple, Lord Aiyanar is often depicted as a well-built warrior in the sitting posture. He is seen with a sword riding a white horse. He is normally accompanied by an escort. When seated, he may have his consorts Puranai and Pudkalai on his either side, and can also be wearing a Yogapatta or meditation bond. He is normally seen with his companion, the fierce looking Karuppusami, who sports a moustache and holds a sickle in hand.
Legend of Lord Aiyanar
Once, the guardian deity was riding his horse and passing through the Chithakoor village in the Pudukkottai districtof Tamil Nadu. Fascinated by the environment, Aiyanar wanted to stay in the village itself and went from house to house, asking people to build him a hut there and assuring them that his presence will do great good to the village. However, people didn’t bother. Not very happy at their response, he vanished, after telling the villagers that they will find his horse close to the village water body next morning. When people saw the sacred horse near the water source next day, they realized that the visitor was none other than Lord Aiyanar himself. They immediately built a hut for him there, with materials like leaves and branches, and since then, the Lord is believed to be residing permanently in the Chithakoor village.
Once there were no rains and the water body dried up. People prayed to God Aiyanar who took pity on them and asked them, if they wanted rains or only the water source to be filled up. People wanted the latter to happen, and through the grace of Aiyanar, the village tank got filled to the brim, without a drop of rain falling from the sky.
Worship of Lord Aiyanar
Aiyanar is worshipped in non-agamic manner and is associated with sacrificial offerings of non- vegetarian items. Aiyanar is worshipped in open surroundings. This worship represents a non-Vedic form of adoration. The priests who conduct his pujas are non-Brahmins. The priests belong to the potter community.
Aiyanar cult is believed to be an ancient clan-based Dravidian cult who worships nature. Blood sacrifices are common at these shrines.