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near Kumbakonam - Thiruvinnagaram

by Lalitha Venkat

The Uppiliappan Temple in Thiruvinnagaram about 6km from Kumbakonam, is one of the sacred 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams and is dedicated to Lord Venkatachalapathi. The deity is known by various names as Uppiliappan, Oppiliappan, Srinivasan, Venkatachalapathy, Tiruvinnagarappan, etc.

Sage Markandeya once wanted to have Bhoomadevi as his daughter and Vishnu as his son-in-law. One day, a baby girl appeared under a tulasi plant. The sage took her home and brought her up. When he started looking for a groom for her, Vishnu appeared like an old man and asked Markandeya for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Markandeya tried to fend him off by saying the young girl did not even know how to cook, like adding salt and so on. Vishnu finally revealed himself and promise to manage with saltless food. Thus, the marriage of Vishnu and Bhoomadevi took place in the month of Aipasi (Oct / Nov) on the day of star Thiruvonam. This is commemorated as a 10-day festival every year.

The presiding deity in this temple is facing east in a standing posture while His consort Boomidevi is sitting next to Him facing north. Markandeya sits in a pose facing Boomidevi as if giving her in marriage to the Lord. There is no separate shrine for the Goddess and the Lord never leaves His sanctum without being accompanied by Boomidevi.

The prasadam for the Lord in this temple is prepared without salt. This is the reason the deity is known among many other names, as Uppiliappan (uppu+ illappan), which in Tamil means 'the One who does not take salt'.

(also listed under 108 Vaishnava Divya Desangal - Thiru Vinnagar)