Panguni Utsavam 2023

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Panguni Utsavam

Sripathan: the key volunteers

Sripatham members play a pivotal role at the Panguni Utsavam of Sri Kapaleeswarar –they are the ones who carry the pancha moorthy idols in the vahana processions throughout the fest.

46-year-old G. Balaji says he has been carrying Sri Kapaleeswarar during the Panguni utsavam right from his teens. Over the last 15 years he has graduated to the post of mestri, the leader of the Sripatham team.

For the 2023 utsavam, he assigned each of the four corners of the palaquin (two in the front and two in the rear ) referred to as ‘Naalu Moolai’ – to experienced hands.

All the members of his Sripatham team are from Mylapore with most of them being his ‘sishyas’, trained into the Sripatham by him.

This special booklet is published as a celebration and a small documentation of the 2023 edition of the Panguni Utsavam of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore. It is a Mylapore Times publication. It is meant to be a collector’s copy.

The entire Utsavam coverage - reports and photos - are at

The entire video coverage is at

Credits -

Editor: Vincent D’ Souza

Content Contributor: S. Prabhu

Photographer: M. Madhan Kumar

Designer: S. Prema

Marketing: R. Kathiravan

Printing: Ratna Offset

This booklet is for private circulation. No part/s of it can be copied/ shared/reproduced.

Contact: 044 24982244 /

At Sri Kolavizhi Amman Temple, Mylapore; seeking the grace of the grama devathai for the festival. Kodiyetram
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Punnai-maram vahanam

Purusha-mirugam vahanam

Sooriya-vattam vahanam

Jadai - for the goddess

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This family’s connect with Adikaara Nandi

The descendants of Thasai Kumaraswamy Bhaktha have a special place at the utsavam - for the Adikaara Nandi vahana procession.

Descendent P. Murali, who runs a handicrafts shop in Mylapore, says his grandfather was a staunch devotee of Sri Kapaleeswarar and that he sold three houses ( including those where Raasi Silks and Giri Trading are located today) on Sannidhi Street opposite the temple to build the silver Adikaara Nandi vahana in 1917 at a cost of Rs. 40,000.

Chandru Bhaktha, another descendent, said his father was born on the day of the Adikaara Nandi procession in Panguni of 1917.

Every year, on the eve of the procession, the family members jointly recite Thiruvasagam inside the temple and then present prasadam to the devotees.

For 106 years, this family has been maintaining the Adikaara Nandi vahana.

In recognition of their contribution, the first deeparadhanai on the third morning of the utsavam is shown to them.

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Adikaara Nandi procession

People thronged in large numbers to participate in the deeparathanai at 10 p.m. at the eastern raja gopuram on the first evening of the Panguni Utsavam.

The renowned Thiru Maahaalam brothers, T. S. Pandyan and T. S. Sethuraman, who have traditionally performed at Thiru Mahaalanathar Temple, praised by the Saivite saint poets, came all the way from near Koothanur Saraswathi Koil to present a nagaswaram performance through the three-hour procession around the Mada Streets that night.

As the procession began, for a bit, the sound from the periya udal (beating of the big drums) drowned the softer nagaswaram tunes at the start of the procession.

Co-ordination with the artistes would have enabled the nagaswaram music to float around rasikas who enjoy it.

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Great nagaswaram music Day of the procession of the chariot ( ther) t

Day of the Arabathumoovar procession; Kolavizhi Amman, Thiruvalluvar and Mundagakanni Amman, among many others join the procession

Thiru Gnana Sambandar brings Poompavai back to life; enactment on steps of temple tank

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Night of voyali performance

It is the one day in the Panguni Utsavam when the action lies centered on West Mada Street, now R. K. Mutt Road.

Devotees in several hundreds packed onto the road in the temple tank zone just after 8 p.m.

Kapaleeswarar in Bikshandar Thiru Kolam made his way through South Mada Street seeking alms as devotees sought his blessings and made offerings, and stationed himself on West Mada Street.

Past 9 p.m., Karpagambal presented a series of voyali performances; with Bikshandar enjoying her dance from the other end of the road. Devotees had a good time watching the Sripatham personnel’s performance.

Writer-historian V. Sriram notes that ‘in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Doraikannu, the devadasi of the temple would lead this procession dressed as Bhikshatana herself and her dance would thrill the audience.’

Grandness of Adikaara Nandi

The procession of the lord on the Adikaara Nandi is one of the biggest features of the Panguni utsavam.

The clock had just ticked past 5 a.m. that Thursday morning when the pancha moorthy idols made their way for the procession inside Sri Kapali Temple from the Thiru Kalyana mandapam.

By this time, people had already gathered in a few thousands, both inside the temple and outside the raja gopuram.

The devotional excitement was palpable in front of the pillayar sannidhi with not an inch of space left as Kapaleeswarar made his way to the raja gopuram for the deeparathanai at 5.45am.

Devotees packed into Sannidhi Street, right up to the shed of the ther ( chariot) and it was a sight to behold as they chanted ‘Kapali Kapali’ in chorus when the Sripatham presented the lovely voyali in front of the eastern raja gopuram just after 6 a.m.

Even as the Lord strode out to the 16-pillar mandapam, the devotees were already humming to the beating of the periya udal (drums) and the Nagaswaram tunes.

It was past 8 a.m. when Kapaleeswarar moved on to the South Mada Street but the crowd continued to swell as late comers who missed the gopura vaasal darshan now had a close darshan of the lord.

People also presented milk to the service personnel and devotees in honour of Thiru Gnana Sambandar’s Gnana Paal episode that was enacted inside the temple tank that day.

Ekantha Sevai

Following the night-long Rishabha vahana procession that lasted nine hours around the Mada Streets, the othuvars at Sri Kapali Temple led by Sathgurunathan enthralled the early morning devotees that Sunday with a one-hour-long Ekantha Sevai presentation.

This was held around the temple prakara: the othuvars rendering the sacred Thevaram verses marking the completion of the fifth day event at the Panguni utsavam.

Sathgurunathan was joined in the brilliant presentation by teammate Vageesan and othuvars from Thiruvottiyur, Vadapalani, Aminjikarai, Sankaran Koil and Vriddachalam.

The fitting climax to the Ekantha Sevai was the presentation of aadu mayil aadu in the northern prakara, with Kapaleeswarar dancing to this lively song and the devotees singing in chorus along with the othuvars.

Karpagambal (left) and lord Kapali as Bikshandar (right)
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Thirukalyanam scenes; inside the temple

Many faces of devotion


Ravana carries the lord, music of mukha veena

After a noisy evening with a huge crowd watching the celestial wedding of the divine couple, the Thiru Kalyanam, Sri Kapaleeswarar was carried by the ten-headed Ravana on a three-hour procession around the Mada Streets.

Contrasted with the fast-paced, high-decibel drum beating that marked the processions on the first nine days, the procession on the tenth evening of the Panguni utsavam featured a sole musical instrument.

Veena was Ravana’s favourite musical instrument. Navaneetha Krishnan, who is the asthana vidwan at Kozhi Vizhi Amman Temple, presented some sweet music on the mukha veena on this procession.

Devotees had designed white pulli kolam all along the entire walkway leading from the temple gate to the 16 pillar mandapam.

Kapaleeswarar was soon joined by a beautifully decorated Karpagambal in a bright yellow saree at the 16-pillar mandapam.

It was 2 a.m. when Kapaleeswarar returned through the eastern raja gopuram marking the completion of the 2023 Panguni utsavam.

Even as the Sripatham personnel made their way into the temple, the priests and the Vedic pundits were ready at the dwajasthambam for the kodi-erakkam. That took place at 3.15 a.m.

Drama: when the divine couple quarrel

After a two-hour procession around the Mada Streets, a ‘big fight’ erupted between Karpagambal and Kapaleeswarar and it was left to Sundara Moorthy nayanar to mediate and bring them together again.

The episode from Thiru Oodal Puranam was played out late on a Friday evening, a day after the flag was brought down at the Panguni utsavam.

It all seemed fine on Thursday evening with the grand Thiru Kalyanam and late night Ravana Vahana procession to the tunes of mukha veena.

24 hours later, as it so often happens with couples, Karpagambal took strong objection to Kapaleeswarar holding Ganga secretly atop his head.

All of a sudden, Karpagambal shot past Kapaleeswarar to the 16-pillar mandapam while he stayed back near the chariot, shocked at this sudden and hasty retreat of his consort.

It was then that Kapaleeswarar pulled in his friend, saint-poet Sundara Moorthy Nayanar to check the reason for Ambal’s anger and to bring her back.

For the next half hour or so, this historical episode was played out between the mandapam and the chariot zone, with Sundarar going back and forth between Ambal and the Swami playing a conciliatory role.

Sannidhi Street seemed like a live drama stage.

Othuvar Vageesan anchored the enactment. While Ambal reasoned that the Lord having Ganga secretly on his head was unpardonable, Swamy said he had tanned waiting in the hot sun. Finally Kapaleeswarar asked Sundarar to play out the Saama Veda before Ambal to cool her reasoning out that even Ravana did so after he was crushed under Mount Kailasa by his big toe.

After three rounds, Ambal finally relented and made her way to the chariot side to take her place beside Kapaleeswarar much to the delight of the devotees who had gathered to watch the enactment of this episode.

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Photos of the episode

Vidaiaatri: music and dance after the utsavam

Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan, popularly known as Trichur Brothers, enthralled the audience with a devotional kutcheri at the Navarathri mandapam at Sri Kapali Temple - the event was part of the 12-day Vidaiaatri music and dance fest following the 10-day Panguni utsavam.

Srikrishna Mohan, the elder of the Trichur Brothers said that it gives him and his brother a divine feeling to be performing at the Kapaleeswarar Temple.

“We have been performing here for four years and it is always a special and divine feeling. Mylapore is the centre of Carnatic music and to have the opportunity to present a kutcheri within the Kapaleeswarar Temple is great. It is a completely different atmosphere inside the temple. The entire audience sitting till the very end adds to the devotional element.”

72 year-old Vathsala has been a fan of Trichur Bros. for the last 10 years, by her admission.

She said, after the concert, “Ever since we saw them perform in January

2013 in front of the 16 -pillar mandapam at the Mylapore Festival, my husband and I have become their fans. We have not missed a single kutcheri that they have presented at the Kapaleeswarar Temple since then.

“This evening, I was thrilled when they presented my favourite song Naan Oru Vilayaattu Bommaiya. Their presentation of Dinamani Vamsam and Kapaleeswarar was also very pleasing.’

Towards the end of the duo’s concert, their rendition of Panduranga Jai Jai got the audience humming to the song.

Dancers of guru Urmila Satyanarayanan (above) and Sikkil Gurucharan in concert ( below)