Politicians keep date with Saneeshwara

Thirunallar shrine prepares for Sani Peyarchi


So, even the most unflappable among them do not wish to miss a date with Lord “Saneeshwara” or Saturn, when he transits from one zodiac sign to another, at Thirunallar, A rare shrine dedicated to him. Following the footsteps of legendary King Nala, who is believed to have been redeemed himself from Saturn's malefic grip soon after he stepped into the Dharbaraneshwarar Temple in Karaikal at Cauvery delta's tail-end, are thousands of devotees both politicos and commoners.  The latest in this time-line is none other than Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who quietly drove down to the 7th century temple on Saturday to offer prayers at the Shiva Temple, ahead of the transition of planet Saturn from Leo to Virgo on September 26.

And not many knew about his pilgrimage to Karaikal, until Patel, on his way back at nearby Tiruchirappalli airport, had a brief talk with reporters after inspecting the new integrated terminal building there.

Patel is not alone among the politicians making a pilgrimage to Thirunallar. The shrine often attracts former Prime Ministers like H D Deve Gowda.

Preparations for rituals to appease Saturn has begun in Shiva temples across Tamil Nadu. Various special Poojas and “'shanthi homams” will remain the highlight of events on the transition day.  “Saneeshwara,” mounted on his vehicle the crow, is usually part of the nine-planet cluster termed “Navagraha” in Shiva temples.

But the Shiva Temple in Thirunallar is one of the very few places where Saturn has an exclusive  shrine inside the “prakara” (enclosure).  A dip into the temple's “Nala Theertha,” one of the five existing sacred tanks, is said to absolve pilgrims of all their sins. The rare opportunity to wash-away their sins attracts devotees both at home and abroad. The “Sani Peyarchi” (Saturn's transition between zodiac signs) usually takes place once in two-and-a-half years. “This year (when the transition is taking place) we are expecting at least ten lakh pilgrims to throng Thirunallar to participate in the rituals," a Temple official told Deccan Herald over the phone on Monday.

Symbolising contradictory qualities like giving plenty of wealth and misery in the same breath, Saturn is generally a feared planet, says a well known Chennai astrologer, “Nambungal” R Narayanan.     He said people affected by the influence of the transition, those with “Utthara Phalguni,”  “Hastham” and “Chitra Nakshatrams”as their birth stars, need to offer prayers at Temples to “Lord Saneeshwara.”    Meanwhile, officials at Dharbaraneshwarar Temple said significant changes have been made to accommodate all devotees to the shrine to pay their obeisance to “Lord Saturn” at 3.26 pm on September 26, when he is believed to make the transition.

As for politicians, Narayanan predicts two leaders would profit from the “Peyarchi”: AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha, and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

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