One of the most exquisite architectural designs that defines the Dravidian culture is the Kapaleeshwara Temple at Chennai. The temple with its intricately carved towers was built during the 8th by the Pallavas and is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Shiva.

The deity appears here as Lord Kapaleeshwara with his consort Karpagambal, a form of Goddess Parvathi. One of a famous festival associated with the temple is the Arubathimoovar festival that is celebrated annually and is named after all the 63 Nayanmars, the Saivaite saints who throughout their life praised and sang hymns in dedication to Lord Shiva.

During this festival a huge procession of the Lord and Mother Goddess are taken in a ‘Ther’ (chariot). The four streets around the Kapaleeshwara temple are flooded with lakhs of devotees on the day of the festival. The idols of all the 63 Nayanmars placed in comparatively smaller chariots are seen following the procession of the Lord.

In this festival the Lord is seated in the chariot along with his consort and is seen holding a bow and arrow with Lord Brahma in the driver seat.. A mass of devotees are seen pulling the Ther which is decorated with flowers, statues and scented offerings. This festival is celebrated in order to honor the 63 saints who dedicated their life to the worship of Lord Shiva.

The festival is celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni (March to April). During this time the little Mylapore in Chennai where the temple is situated wears a festive look and the the streets and houses around town are decorated with colorful Kolams, which are hand made drawings using white and coloured rice flour bedecked with flowers.

A lot of folk dance takes place during the procession such as Koothu dances, Kokkalikattai and the famed Thoippavai puppet shows. You can also see lot of philanthropic activities like offering food, clothes, buttermilk are in place which makes the ambience so lively. The philosophy behind this festival is to “Worship the Worshippers”.

Plan your trip to Chennai during this period to be a part of this annual grand festival of Arubathimoovar.