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Thiruvaiyaru Sapthasthanam Festival

Sapthasthanam festival is held every year at Thiruvaiyar in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April - May). Sapthasthanam Festival that takes place in Chithirai when Nandikeswarar, on a horse Vahana, along with his wife Swayambirakaasai, on a palanquin go on a seven temple procession around Thiruvaiyaru along with Ayaarappar and Aram Valartha Nayaki.

The festival begins from the Pancha Natheeswarar temple.

On this day, Lord Pancha Natheeswarar starts on a procession with his consort Goddess Parvati. Shiva ganas like Nandi and Bhringi, devotees and others visit six pilgrim centers around Thiruvaiyaru.

These holy places are Thirupazhanam, known as Kaushika Ashrama, Tiruccorruturai (Gautama Ashrama), Thiruvedhikudi (Vyasa Ashram), Thirukandiyur, Tirupuntturutti and Tiruneittanam.

At these centers, Lord Panchanadeeswarar  is received by the local deities like Apatasahayeshwara, Odavaneshwara, Vedanayakeshwara, Virateshwara, Pusphavaneshwara and Ghrtasthaneshwara.

The Lord returns to Thiruvaiyaru  at the conclusion of the tour. These places along with Thiruvaiyaru  are called sapthasthanams.

Thousands of devotees join the procession and march, singing devotional songs and visiting all the seven shrines.

They are welcomed at each of the temples with flowers, ghee, sacred food accompanied with the Vedic Chants and joined by the respective Lords and Ambal at Thirupazhanam, Thiruchotruthurai, Thiru Vethikudi, Thiru Kandiyur, Thiru Bhoonthuruththi and Thiru Neithaanam. It is quite a sight to see the deities go around and finally congregate at Pancha Natheeswarar temple in Thiruvaiyaru on the Vishaka nakshatra day in Chithirai.

According to tradition, great music composers like Tyagaraja and Muttuswami Dikshitar used to accompany the sapthasthanam procession, singing their compositions along with their disciples.

In recent years, the well known composer papanasham Shiva accompanied this procession for many years, singing devotional songs.

History of Srivaishnavism (1923) T A Gopinath Madra University Chennai
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IX page 256 - IHRF