Manakanchara Nayanar

Manakanchara Nayanar was born in Kanchanoor (near Kumbakonam), a place where all the people were devotees of Shiva (Shiva Bhaktas). He was by hereditary, a Senathipathi. He believed that paying homage to the Shiva Bhaktas was the highest form of worship of the Lord. For a long time, he did not have any children and prayed fervently to the Lord for an offspring. Soon, the Lord blessed him with a beautiful daughter. Manakancharanar’s joy knew no bounds and the baby was raised with love. Few years passed and his daughter was engaged to be married to ‘Eyarkon Kalikamar’, who was also a Shiva devotee. The date of the marriage was also fixed.

In the meantime, Lord Siva wanted to shower His supreme grace on the Nayanar and decided to put him to a test. He took the form of a Maha-Vrathiar (man of great vow) who wears the sacred ash on his forehead, matted locks adorned with a garland of bones, and a sacred thread made of human hair on his chest. On the day of the wedding, He came to Manakancharanar’s house. Manakancharanar welcomed him with joy. The Maha-Vrathiar asked him the reason for the festivities in his house. The Nayanar told him that his daughter was to be wed that day. He then told his daughter to take the great Varthiar’s blessings. Manakancharanar’s daughter bowed to the ascetic to receive his blessings.

As soon as the Varthiar’s eyes fell on the bride’s long hair, he became thoughtful and told Manakancharanar that her hair would be apt to make the sacred thread that adorned his chest. Without any hesitation, Manakancharanar cut the ornamented hair of his daughter and offered it humbly to the Shivanadiyar. He did not worry about his daughter becoming disfigured on the day of her wedding or the fact that the bridegroom could now refuse to marry his daughter! His daughter, who was also a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva complied without any misgivings.

Pleased with their devotion, the Lord in the form of the ascetic immediately disappeared and in His place the Lord appeared along with his consort Mother Parvathi and blessed Manakancharanar’s family.

Eyarkon Kalikamar, the bridegroom, and his party arrived there soon after, and came to know of all that had happened. He was sorry that he had not come earlier and had the Lord’s Darshan. He saw the disfigured bride and accepted her without any hesitation. Lord Shiva, the Indweller, restored the hair to her head. Nayanar and his family were very happy and proceeded with the wedding.