‘More things are wrought by prayer than are dreamt of in our philosophy’, said Shakespeare. To enable the devotees to pray to and before the Lord, there are six pujas or services every day. At 5 a.m. the Lord gives the Visvaroopa darshan. The first puja is Vizhapuja or day’s festival at 7.15 followed by Kalasandhi (8 a.m.), Sirukala Sandhi (9 am.), Uchikkalam (or mid-day service), Sayaraksha (evening service) and Rakkalam.
Each service consists of (a) abhishekam (b) offering of food and (c) alankaram. In the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok (Thailand), the Buddha’s robes are changed thrice a year, in keeping with the hot, cold and wet seasons. Here at Palani, Lord Dandayudhapani’s robes are changed several times a day and it is difficult to keep a count. The deity is decorated and dressed as Prince, hunter, lad and ascetic.
At the request of devotees these alankarams are also done during specified intervals on payment of prescribed charges. After the Raja Alankaram at the evening service at 5.40 pm, no abishekams are allowed. The artistry with which the gurukkals do the alankarams and the swiftness with which they present the deity in one alankaram after another deserve praise.
The pilgrim is advised to visit the hill temple for Visvarupa Darshan and for three important services at 12 noon, 5.40 p.m. and 8. p.m. At the Uchikkalam, the rituals are elaborate and the deity is dressed in a conservative and orthodox way.