Koothanur is the town situated near Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. Koothanur is also called as Poonthottam which means the garden of flowers. The place is famous for the temple dedicated for the worship of Sri Saraswathi Devi, the Goddess of education and wisdom.
As per the legend, River Maa Ganga had come at this place at the behest of Bhagwan Shiva and is running as Arasalaru river. It is believed that Bhagwan had ordained that Maa Sri Saraswathi be part of the river.
It is also believed that River Yamuna had worshipped here for alleviation of past sins. It is ardently believed that worshipping at this temple alleviates all past sins. The temple is called as Dakshina Thriveni Sangamam.
As per the legend, the place is the birthplace of the Tamil Poet Ottakoothan. He was said to be born with speech impairment. With the blessings of Sri Saraswathi on a Vijaya Dasami day, he was bestowed with speech powers and the literacy prowess.
The name Koothanur is said to be derived from his name. He had composed several hymns on Sri Saraswathi Devi. He is said to be in the Court of the King Raja Raja Chola II. He is also called as Purushotham Bharathi.
As per another legend, the Tamil poet Kambar had also composed hymns on Sri Saraswathi Devi of this temple.
The main Deity is Maa Sri Saraswathi Devi. She is decked up with white lotuses and other white flowers and She is clad in white based designed sarees. Abhishekams are done to Her with turmeric powder, honey, milk, curd, fruit juices and ghee. Her musical instrument Veena is placed on Her lap.
Special pujas are done to the Deity on all Mula-Star days, Full moon days and Wednesdays.
As per the rituals, the devotees buy archana plates at the temple entrance. They also buy notebooks and pen at the entrance of the temple.
At the main sanctum, when we handover the archana plate to the Pujari, he is asking for the Gothra, name and star of the students in the family. Archana is done to the Deity with Kumkuma and white lotus. Some devotees also offer white saree with floral designs for Sri Saraswathi Devi.
Then we do the parikrama of the temple. At the end of parikrama, we come to the sanctum of Sri Ottakoothar. The devotees are asked to place the new note books and pens at the bottom of the Vigraha for a few moments and then take them back.
Thereafter, the devotees carry the new notebooks and pen, stand before the main sanctum of Sri Saraswathi and write “Om Nama Shivaya” or “Sri Ramajayam” or “Om” in the new notes with new pen. Such notebooks are then given to the students in the family by way of divine gift.
Special homams / yagnas are conducted in February / March of every year for the excellent prospects for the students appearing for the annual exams.
The temple is open from 7.30 a.m to 1.00 p.m and from 4.00 p.m to 8.30 p.m. Kalasanthi Puja is done at 9.00 a.m, Sayaratcha Puja is done at 6.30 p.m and Ardha Jama Puja is done at 8.30 p.m. The timings may differ during festivals.
Navarathri festival including Saraswathi Puja and Vijaya Dasami, Vasanth Panchami, Garuda Panchami and Akshaya Trithiya are the major festivals celebrated in the temple. On Saraswathi Puja day, the holy feet of Maa Saraswathi Devi are decked up with flowers and extended upto Artha Mandapam to enable the devotees to do Padha Puja to Maa Devi.
It is ardently believed that sincere worship of Sri Saraswathi Devi at this temple results in curing of speech related problems of kids with stammering. Aksharabhyasam, the festival of commencing education to the kids is conducted at this temple.
Koothanur can be reached by bus or taxi from either from Thiruvarur or from Mayiladu Thurai or from any nearby town.