Did you know that there exists a ‘guru pooja’ temple for the saint poet Thiruvalluvar in Tamil Nadu and that he is being worshipped as god?
The people of Valluvar community at P Pudupatti village near here have been worshipping the poet with an 83-year-old picture of his. The people of this community, who are fortune-tellers, claim that Thiruvalluvar is their god and that they are following this custom for three generations.
N Sankara Narayanan, a native of the village, who is employed in a public sector bank in Chennai, said, “The picture of Thiruvalluvar, was brought to our village by our ancestors 83 years ago. In the beginning, poojas were performed for the picture and as days passed, a statue was sculptured and a temple built in the village.”
“From the day the photo was brought to the village by our ancestors, poojas are being done regularly as in regular temples. Once in a year, during the Tamil month of ‘Maasi’, on the death anniversary of Thiruvalluvar, a guru pooja is done, in which all the community members take part.”
Special poojas are performed on that day and the picture is taken in a procession as in other temple festivals. The guru pooja is done considering Thiruvalluvar as the 64th Nayanmar. He is considered as god to the people of the community as people find guidance in life in his 1330 couplets.
Sekar, a resident of the village said, “Thiruvalluvar is worshipped as god by the people because they consider him as a guru to their art of fortune-telling.” He claims that this is the only temple in Tamil Nadu for Thiruvalluvar that does guru pooja.
Bagiyam, a resident of the village who maintains the temple, says that students in the village offer their prayers to Thiruvalluvar to perform well in studies. Head of the Folklore Department of Madurai Kamaraj University T Dharmaraj says that many people in Tamil Nadu claim Thiruvalluvar, Avvaiyar, Kapilar and Agathiyar to be their ancestors. Many worship Thiruvalluvar as god in the Southern districts.
He says the people of the Valluvar community, who are into fortune-telling, and those of the Vathiriyar community, who too are fortune-tellers and weavers, have existed since the Sangam age and claim Thiruvalluvar as their ancestor.
“In the book Castes and Tribes of Southern India by Edgar Thurston, the Superintendent of the Madras Government Museum (1855-1935) , there is a mention of the people of these communities as ones who can foretell climatic changes and predict rainfall for the whole year with a basic text Sudamani Ullamudayan,” he points out. “They predict and tell auspicious dates for marriages. They were called the ‘masters of Panchangam’ (Pancha Angam). Most from the community have become fortune-tellers, entering commercial business.”