Ani Thirumanjanam is the festival ascribed to doing abhishekams to various Deities in the month of Ani. Ani denotes ‘’Jyeshta’’ month in Tamil. Thirumanjanam means “Maha abhishekam”.
Bhagwan Shiva, Goddess Ambal or Durga, Bhagwan Ganesha and Bhagwan Muruga are always worshipped with abhishekam almost all the days. They are all Rudra Murthies and hence need water to keep them cool.
However, Sri Maha Vishnu and His incarnated Deities (including Sri Mahalakshmi) are provided abhishekam only on specified days. There is a legend that since Sri Vishnu is always floating on the ocean, He is given holy water worship only rarely.
Ani month is special to the Gods and Goddess as all the Gods whether belonging to Shiv clan or Vishnu clan are worshipped with abhishekams on the applicable star days. Hence Ani Thirumanjanam gains special status.
Though Bhagwan Shiva is considered as fond of abhishekam, Bhagwan Nataraja gets abhishekam done only six times in a year. As per the legend, it is believed that all Devas perform abhishekam to Bhagwan Nataraja daily.
As per norms, abhishekams are done six times a day. One day of Devas is equal to one year of humans. Hence Bhagwan Nataraja is worshipped with abhishekam six times a year. Three of these abhishekam days are Star-days such as Ani (Jyeshta) Uthiram, Margazhi (Margazira) Thiruvadhirai and Chithirai Thiruvonam. The rest of the three abhishekam days are Shukla Paksha Chathurthasi days of Avani (Sravana), Purattasi (Bhadrapada) and Masi (Magha) months.
The abhishekam done on Ani Uthiram is called as Ani Thirumanjanam. It is prominently celebrated at Chidambaram temple (Gold), Thiruvalankadu temple (Ruby), Madurai temple (Silver), Thirunelveli temple (Copper) and Kuttralam temple (Art). For the Year 2022, it occurs on Wednesday, 6th July 2022.
Ani Thirumanjanam is celebrated for ten days at Chidambaram. It is believed that Sage Pathanjali has originally initiated the festival. For eight days, urchava murthies of Sri Vinayak, Sri Muruga, Sri Somaskandha, Sri Shivanandha Nayaki and Sri Chandikeswara are taken in procession. On the ninth day, Bhagwan Nataraja Himself is placed in the temple car (ther) and taken around in procession.
Of all the Stars, Uthra Star is given prominence as the Dhruva Star. At Chidambaram, on the Uthra Star-day, Sri Nataraja from the sanctum is being brought into 1000 pillar hall in the temple. It is believed that the cluster of Dhruva and other Stars shall appear above the mandapam on this day.
Sri Nataraja is worshipped with special abhishekams. The festivities commence early in the morning with Rudrabhishekam whereby vedic hymns are chanted and homams are done. Then all fragrant holy waters are collated and abhishekam is done for nearly two hours. Then abhishekams are done with various flowers. This puja is called as pushpanjali. Then aarti is done to the murthies with sixteen types of lamps.
Partaking of this abhishekam water is said to alleviate illness.
It is believed that offering white silk dhoti and vilva garland to Bhagwan Shiva and saree to Sri Ambal is auspicious. It is believed that this will bring success in business.
It is believed that those who witness the cluster of Stars and the abhishekam shall be blessed with confidence and peace of mind. Their fears shall vanish. Those seeking marriage will be blessed with the prospects.
Ani Thirumanjanam is also celebrated in other Shiva temples where there are dedicated Shrines for Sri Nataraja. In some places, Bhagwan Nataraja is done abhishekam with mango, banana and jack fruits. This offering of abhishekam is said to bring in prosperity and wealth.
Bhagwan Shiva and Goddess Parvathi are specially worshipped on the Purattadhi Star-day of Jyeshta month.
Sri Vishnu is worshipped with special abhishekam on the Revathi Star-day of Jyeshta month. It is prominently followed at Veera Raghava Perumal temple at Thiruvallur and at Varada Raja Perumal temple at Kanchipuram.
Sri Hanuman is worshipped with abhishekam on Thiruvonam Star-day of the Jyeshta month.
Sri Garuda, the vahan of Sri Maha Vishnu is given abhishekam on the Kettai Star-day (Jyeshta) of Ani month. This is called as Jyeshtabhishekam. It is prominently celebrated in Sri Rangam and Singaperumal Koil.