Melbourne Murukan Temple
Melbourne Murukan Temple at Sunshine is located in the western suburbs of Melbourne. This center is the fruit of ardent devotees of Murukan who so desired to build a dedicated temple for their beloved god. The center was formed in 1995, the temple project was launched and the first stage of the temple was completed in January 1999. Currently the statues of Lord Murukan with Teyvanai and Valli and Vinayakar are held in a hall where a resident priest conducts puja and abishekam. Idols of Navagraham are enshrined too. Melbourne Murukan Cultural Center manages this temple and endeavors to build a fully-fledged traditional style temple in the near future. This center attracts devotees from far and wide.
Introduction: Murukan is correlated with sun, moon and rain; accordingly he presided over the coming of the rains and blossoming of trees etc. The Paripatal refers to the coming of the monsoon, the concomitant flooding and fecundation of the earth as the arrival of Murukan with his entourage of elephants and army.Lunar cycle plays a vital role in the eastern religions; in Murukan faith three stages in the fortnight between waxing and waning moons have significances attached to them. The first tithi of the new moon is known as the day of Murukan's birth, second tithi is Sasti and the third tithi being the full moon. Full moon stands for completion, fulfilment and total maturity and is the pinnacle of the cosmic cycle and the maturity of the deity.
Most of the important dates in the religious calendar are observed in these temples and it goes without saying that monthly Karttikai and Sasti, annual Kanta Sasti, Vaikaci Vicakam, Taippucam, Pankuni Uttiram are observed with special rituals. It is just that the proceedings vary from one temple to the other; it would just be performing of abhishekam (holy bath) and puja in one temple while in another temple the deities are then taken in procession in the inner and outer courtyard. The festivals in Melbourne temples are held according to traditional style with minor variations to suit the local conditions.
Karttikai is celebrated each month and is of particular significance as it commemorates the coming into being of Kantan and his being nurtured into maturity and his lordship over time. Karttikai is equivalent of 'birthday'. After the abhishekam and special puja, utsava murti or bronze icon of Murukan is taken in a procession in the inner courtyard of the temple. Karttikai is observed in all the three temples as a monthly special puja. During the Tamil month of Karttikai, the Karttikai natchatiram is celebrated as Tiru Karttikai and the custom of lighting lamps outside homes and temples are followed here.
The sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of October-November is celebrated as Kanta Sasti. Sasti is associated with the destruction of evil forces, asuras (demons). Murukan engaged the armies of Singhamukhan, Surapadman and Tarakasuran on a six-day battle and vanquished all of them on the sixth day. Events leading to the conquest of the asuras are dramatized and enacted.Murukan’s triumph over the cosmic forces of evil is celebrated. The asuras were annihilated and the gods were liberated. This battle is known as Surasamharam. This is one of the important Murukan festivals in all the three temples in Melbourne.
During the Kanta Sasti period, daily abhishekam and special puja are conducted each day. Surasamharam is held as a vibrant ceremony on the sixth day. Siva-Vishnu temple and Sri Vakratunda Vinayakar temple has huge structures depicting the evil forces and the ceremony is conducted in the traditional style with puppet demon changing many masks. Corresponding to the six days of the war over the evil forces, devotees undertake fasts, prayers and devotional singing to Lord Murukan. An increasing number of devotees are fasting here; they consume fruits and/or milk once a day for the six days and complete their fast on the seventh day before sunrise.
Vaikaci Vicakam: Vicakam that occurs during the Tamil month of Vaikaci is the commemoration of Murukan’s birth and ascendancy to a place of supremacy amongst the gods. This is observed with abhishekam and special puja here.
Taippucam: Poosa natchatiram during the month of Thai is observed as Taippucam. It was on this day that Murukan was given his Vel by his mother Parvati, at the outset of his campaign to defeat Surapadman, head of the asuras. Devotees undertake kavadi and patkudam (milk pot) on the Taippucam day.
Kavadi is increasingly becoming an important feature of Taippucam festival. Kavadi refers to a horizontal pole held on the shoulder on two ends of which load is carried and it assumes the form of human body; the wooden structure represents the bones; the cloth cover represents the skin; the string woven around it represent the veins and the milk contained in the two pots hung by the two ends is the blood. Therefore the act of lifting a Kavadi is professed as submitting oneself at the feet of Murukan himself.
At the end of the Kavadi procession, abhishekam is held to Lord Murukan at the sanctum sanctorum. A devotee who carries kavadi or patkudam aspires to view the milk being poured on Lord Murukan inside the shrine where he or she reaches after an arduous journey. In Melbourne, the Kavadi festival has not reached the magnanimity as in Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Seychelles etc., but still remains an important festival in the Murukan calendar.
Pankuni Uttiram: Pankuni Uttiram in March-April is celebrated as the wedding of Murukan. His wedding and the concept of marriage are subject to intense research. Teyvanai and Valli, consorts of Murukan, represent two types of love, Teyvanai symbolise karpu or chastity (an orthodox form of marriage) while Valli characterise kalavu or love outside of marriage. In northern hemisphere, the climatic day of Pankuni Uttiram is said to mark winter's becoming summer and cold's turning hot, opposite happens in southern hemisphere. Not withstanding this fact, the Pankuni Uttiram is still a special day amongst Murukan worshipers in Melbourne.