|Chidambaram Sri Nataraja temple, Tamil Nadu. www.iskcontimes.com|
|Chidanbaram idol of Govindaraja and his consort. anudinam.org|
|Idol of Govindaraja perumal, Chidambaram. Temples of India|
None is powerful to stop the march of time and in the 16th century, king Krishnappa Nayak was instrumental in installing the idol of Govindaraja back in the Chidambaram Nataraja temple. Son of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai Nayak dynasty, Krishnappa Nayak, who along with his father's able minister Ariyanatha, expanded the Madurai Kingdom and brought most of the territory under the Pandya dynasty. Followers of Saivite tradition protested against the installation of Vishnu idol close to the main shrine of lord Shiva. However, lord Vishnu's idol was reinstalled on the Nataraja temple premises by the Nayak ruler. Under the British, there was a legal dispute over the rights and location of shrines of lord Vishnu and Azhwars in the same temple before the court between Thillai Moovaeerathars - Brahmins of sub caste Dikshita, who controlled the temple, and Vaishnavas. The court ruling was in favor of Vaishnavas.
|chidambaram Nataraja temple, prakaram (walk way)Panoramio|
|last consecration, Nataraja temple chidambaram. note golden roof. Deccan Chronicle|
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. As at other Vishnu temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to the Vaishnavaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day: Ushathkalam at 7 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 12:00 p.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 7:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m. Each ritual has three steps: alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Govindarajan and Pundarikavalli. During the last step of worship, nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument) are played, religious instructions in the Vedas (sacred text) are recited by priests, and worshippers prostrate themselves in front of the temple mast. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple. The 10-day Chittirai festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March - April) and Gajendra Moksha festival are the prominent festivals celebrated in the temple.