Temple Formalities

As in any place of worship, those who come to this temple must be clean physically and mentally.  The dress should be simple, modest and clean. Footwear will have to be left outside the outer walls and boys and men should not wear stitched clothes, especially above the waist. At least a few flower petals should be brought as offering. After entering through the front and completing the circumambulations and prayers, the devotees should exit through the north gateway.  When nivedyam (offering) is being brought in a procession, devotees should move out. 

When you stand for thozhal (worshipping with palms joined) at the Thirunada (the main entrance to the sanctum sanctorum), you must stand slightly to the right of the idol as Vishnu is enshrined here (if Siva, you should stand slightly to the left).  Only the fingertips should touch and not the palms.  You can keep your palms on level with your heart or above your head. s of the palms on the right.  Pradakshinam (circumambulation) should be performed slowly without swinging the hands. The number of circumambulations varies according to the deity.  The best convention prescribes one for Ganapati, two for Sun, three for Siva, four for Vishnu and each Goddess and seven for the arayaal (ficus religiosa).

Theertham is the water proffered to the deity and it should be accepted in the right palm and taken on the tongue (without touching the lips) after reciting thrice the name of Narayana.  The remnant can be wiped on the head or face.  Prasadam is the flower and the sandal paste that is received from the deity.  The sandal paste should be painted as straight line across the forehead and the flower (or petal) should be worn on the head or tucked on top of the ear.

There are two types of namaskarams (prostration in worship). One is sashtamga namaskaram in which eight points of the body touch the ground. The points are the tips of the big toes, knees, chest, palms and forehead.  Only men are expected to do this.  Women should to the second type which panchanganamaskaram in which only five points touch the ground.  This is just genuflecting and bowing the head low.

Doing etham (holding ears with crossed hands) in front of Ganapathi has its own rules.  You must stand firm on the left foot, with the right foot in front of it and touching the ground only with the big toe.  The middle finger and the index finger of each palm should be open while holding the ears with the other fingers and thumb.  Holding the ears thus, you have to bow low several times.  It can be done 3, 5, 7, 12, 16 or 24 times.  After this the palms should be held on either side of the brow (the temples) and the cracking sound of the knuckles should be heard.