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Shiva Worshipped In Reclining Position – Temple With Shiva In Sleeping Position In Andhra Pradesh

Shiva is typically venerated in the form of a Shivling, with human depictions being rare. However, an exceptional temple in Andhra Pradesh, known as the Pallikondeswarar Temple in Surutapalli, deviates from this norm. In this temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped in a reclining position, sleeping on the lap of Goddess Parvati. This unique temple was constructed by King Harihara Bukka Raya of the Vijayanagara dynasty (1344-47).

Reason For Shiva In Sleeping Position

The reason behind Shiva's reclining posture in this temple is tied to a significant mythological event. During the churning of the ocean of milk, known as Samudra Manthan, various treasures, along with the elixir of the gods, Amrita, and the deadly poison Halahala, emerged from the ocean. To protect the world from the poison, Shiva bravely consumed it. As the poison traveled down Shiva's throat, Goddess Parvati intervened by tightly holding his throat, causing Shiva's neck to turn blue. After this incident, Shiva and Parvati journeyed to their abode, Kailash. Along the way, Shiva, feeling fatigued, lay down to rest at a location in Andhra, which came to be known as Suruttappalli. He reclined, placing his head in the lap of Parvati. The concerned gods gathered around him, waiting for him to awaken. This reclining posture of Shiva is rare and distinctive, resembling the reclining posture of Vishnu.

The term "Palli Kondeswarar" translates to the "reclining deity." Shiva, as Palli Kondeswarar, reclines in the lap of his consort Parvati, who is depicted as Sarva Mangalambika, reminiscent of the Ranganatha form of Lord Vishnu. The temple was constructed during the late Vijayanagara period, and the deity here is referred to as "Bhoga Sayana Siva." The temple boasts a three-tiered gateway tower, known as gopurams. This representation of Shiva is unusual because most Shiva temples typically feature the Lingam, his aniconic symbol, as the central icon. The temple also includes depictions of gods such as Ganesha, Kartikeya, Surya, Chandra, Indra, as well as sages like Narada, standing in reverence around Shiva.

The temple houses a multitude of murtis (divine statues), including those of Brahma, Vishnu, Chandra, Kubera, Surya, Indra, Ganesha, Kartikeya with their consorts Valli and Devayanai, as well as sages like Bhrigu, Markandeya, Narada, Agastya, Pulastya, Gautama, Tumburu, Vashista, Viswamitra, and Valmiki. Additionally, there is a separate niche for Adishankara, another form of Shiva. The temple also features shrines for the Navagraha, the nine planetary deities, and Sanganidhi and Padumanidhi, along with their consorts Vasundara and Vasumadhi, respectively.

The temple conducts its rituals six times daily, as follows: Usha kalam at 6:30 AM, Kalasanthi at 8:00 AM, Uchikalam at 12:00 PM, Sayarakshai at 5:00 PM and Ardha Jamam at 8:00 PM. Each of these rituals involves four essential steps, which include abhisheka (a sacred bath), alangaram (ornate decoration), naivedya (offering of food), and deeparadhana (the ceremonial waving of lamps) for both Valmeegeswarar and Maraganthibigai deities.

These sacred ceremonies are accompanied by melodious music provided by nadaswaram (a traditional pipe instrument) and tavil (a percussion instrument). Priests recite religious instructions from the Vedas, and worshipers pay their respects by prostrating before the temple mast.

Additionally, the temple observes various weekly and fortnightly rituals, such as somavaram (Monday) and Sukravaram (Friday), as well as monthly rituals like Amavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day), and sathurthi. The temple hosts major festivals like Brahmotsavam during the Tamil month of Purattasi (September – October), Thiruvathirai in the month of Margazhi (December – January), and Annabhishekam during the Tamil month of Aippasi.

One notable celebration is Pradosham, a fortnightly festival commonly observed in South Indian temples. This temple sees an influx of approximately 15,000 visitors during Pradosham and around 50,000 visitors during the annual Sivarathri festival.