|Thiruvarur Thaeer(chariot) and devotees,Tamil Nadu India.en.wikipedia.org|
|Thiruvarur Shiva temple entrance and theer(rath or chariot)www.maadurgawallpaper.com|
The temple car (thaeer in Tamil)also known as the ''Aazhi Thaeer'' is a wooden structure with fine, small carvings of images depicting stories or incidents from the puranas or divine epics.
The God's idol or idols, (Urchavar meaning representation of Hindu gods in idol form mostly made of ayempoon - an alloy of five
metals) exclusively for the purpose of processions during festival times), are reverentially placed in the upper deck of the well decorated chariot after special pooja.
It is a great kainkarya or a great devotional deed to participate in the act of pulling the long specially-made very thick rope connected to the thaeer by hundreds of people. Pulling the thaeer is a form of bhakthi(devotion) and people believe it will wash off sins and give peace of mind and prosperity to the family. Pulling the huge chariot manually is a tedious job and devotees have to do it with barefoot by rotation along the route under the scorching sun. To participate in such an event, ardent devotees are expected to take bath and wear proper cloths, avoid chewing of arica nuts, betel leaves etc. Must avoid liquor,etc and shun wearing footwear and fancy dress,
Car festival at Thiruvarur has been around for centuries in the delta district. The ruler Kulothunga Chola II (1133–50 CE) of Chola Dynasty enlarged the temple ritual to have fifty six festivals, some of which are followed in modern times. The annual chariot festival of the Thygarajaswamy temple is celebrated with great fervor and fanfare during April– May, corresponding to the Tamil month of Chitrai.
The chariot made of wood is one of its rare kind in south India and is the largest and biggest one weighing 300 tonne with a height of more than 96 feet - roughly equal to 9 story building. The specially designed chariot has four sections with an octagonal platform. The giant reinforced iron wheels are provided with special hydraulic system and it comes around the four main streets of the town surrounding the temple during the festival. The event is attended by lakhs of people from all over Tamil Nadu. While people pull the chariot in unison from the front, at the same time, it is being pushed by heavy bulldozers from the back to keep the giant thaeer moving along the path.The chariot festival is followed by the float festival (in local language"Theppam") that takes place in the huge temple tank.