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Mahamagam Festival is a holy festival celebrated once in twelve years in Tamil Nadu. Mahamagam Festival, which is held at Kumbakonam, is a bathing ceremony. In this festival all the people come to take bath in Mahamagam Tank. Devotees believe that holy water of rivers like Yamuna and Ganga meet in Mahamagam Tank and the persons who take bath in it can get purified. People from all the corners of the country come at Kumbakonam for the festival. This festival is also called as Kumbamela of South.
The Kasi Viswanathar Temple in the temple town of Kumbakonam is associated with the Mahamagam festival which occurs once every 12 years; when 9 of the saters of the revered rivers in India are believed to assemble in the Mahamagam tank. The major Shivastalams in Kumbakonam are the Kumbheswarar Temple, Kudandaikaronam and Nageswarar Temple; this is one of the 3 Kayarohana Stalams in Tamilnadu, the other 3 being Kanchikkaronam and Naagaikkaronam. The term Kayarohana stalam is equivalent in meaning to a shrine where all beings become one with Shiva during the great deluge. Other temples in Kumbakonam include the Ramaswamy temple and the Vaishnava Divya Desam Sarangapani temple.
Rama and Lakshmana are said to have worshipped Shiva here during their search for Sita, and acquired Rudramsam, to enable them to fight Ravana. Legend has it that the nine sacred rivers of India, prayed to Shiva at Banares (Viswanathar)to be absolved of the sins washed away by bathers, and were directed to bathe in the Mahamagam tank and worship Aadi Kumbheswarar. Viswanathar of Kasi is believed to have manifested himself here at Kumbakonam at Kudandaikaronam.
The name Kayarohana is associated with the Lakulisa Pasupata Saiva sect which originated in Gujarat. This sect of saivism is said to have been widespread in Tamilnadu during the days of Mahendravarma Pallavan.
The Temple :
This temple with 2 prakarams and a 72 ft high Rajagopuram is situated on the Northern bank of the Mahamagam tank. Images of the 9 river Goddesses (one of which is Kaveri) are seen in this temple.
Four worship services are offered each day here. Masi Magam is the most important annual festival celebrated.
famous Mahamaham Tank of Kumbakonam is located near the Head Post Office. This tank covers an area of 6.2 acres and is in a shape of a pot. The tank is Surrounded by 16 small Mandapams and a "Nava Kannika Temple" in the Eastern Side. Govinda Theekshitan, the Chieftain, of Achutha Nayaka of Thanjavur, constructed sixteen Mandapams and stone steps around this tank. Brahmatheerthesar, Mukunthar, Thalesar, Rishakesar, Umaipakesar, Nairuthesar, Brahmeesar, Gangatheerthesar and Seshtra Paleesar, are the names of deities located in these Mandapams.
Brahmatheerthesar temple is located at the Northwestern portion of this tank. This temple is also known as "Thula Mandapam" where a big physical balance is provided for making contribution to the temple. It is also believed that this tank consists of 19 Holy Theerthams around the tank periphery and another theertham at the centre. Vayu, Ganga, Brahma, Yamuna, Kubera, Gothavarai, Esaniam, Narmadha, Indra, Saraswathi, Akni, Cauvery, Nagam, Niruthi, Palaru, Thevan, Varunan, Saratu and Kannia are names of the Theerthams believed to be located inside this tank. Apart from the above said Mandapams, around the tank area, a temple known as Abimukeshar Kovil occupies the eastern portion of the tank Kasi Vishwanathar Kovil situated on the northern bank of Mahamaham Tank and the temple and the big Gopuram in the front were constructed during the period of Nayaka rule.
During this festival it is believed that in Mahamaham tank the famous rivers like the Ganga, the Yamuna, etc... meet together and taking bath in Mahamaham, would wash off all the sins.