Ganesh who ate the Prasad: Strange Stories from Tamil Temples-Part 2 (Post No. 3120)

ganesh lanka

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 4 September 2016


Time uploaded in London: 11-30 AM


Post No.3120


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.



Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu celebrate Ganesh Chathurthy on grander scales than other states in India. And in the same way more temples are here for Vinayaka (Ganesh/Ganapathy) with lot of local stories. One speciality about Tamil Nadu is that some of the stories are over thousand years old. We have Ganesh stories associated with Tamil Saint Sundarar of eighth century CE.


Nambiandar Nambi was a famous Saivaite who compiled the Saivaite books. He was credited with rediscovering the Tamil Thevara Hymns hidden in the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple. He got the clue only from a Ganesh statue on the banks of a river in Tirunaraiyur. When he was a boy he used to accompany his father to the temple. One day his father could not go to the temple for his regular daily Puja (worship) and so the work was entrusted to Nambi. He went to the temple and did the Puja like his father and offered the Prasad (cooked food) to the God. But the Stony Ganesh never opened his mouth. Innocent Nambi thought that it was his erroneous Puja that made the Ganesh to shut his mouth. So he started banging his head on the granite stones of the temple in frustration. Suddenly Ganesh came out of the rock and ate the food offering he brought from home. From that day he was called Polla Pillayar (the naughty Ganesh). It is believed he was the one who guided Nambi to Chidambaram to find the Thevaram Hymns.

vinayaka girls

Sundarar and Gold coins

Following story is from my previous post:-

Teleportation Miracles in Hindu scriptures

Posted on 6 March 2013

“Sundarar was one of the great Four Saivaite saints of Tamil Nadu. He lived in 8th century AD. Like other three saints he also did several miracles. One of the miracles involves teleportation. Sundarar was empty handed when he went to Vriddhachalam temple near Chennai. He was always generous in asking, in fact demanding.  He never acted like a beggar while he was begging. He sought “only gold” whenever he prayed for money. Knowing his status Shiva was also generous in giving. When Sundarar prayed for gold coins Shiva gave him 12,000 gold coins. Money always comes with problems. How to carry such a big load safely? was Sundarar’s worry. His home town Tiruvarur is not nearby. Again he went to Shiva for a solution. He told him to throw them in to the river Manimutharu and collect them at the Kamalalayam Tank in Tiruvarur temple! If it was hard earned money Sundarar would have hesitated, but it was money that came easily. So he left them in the river and went to Tiruvarur.


Sundarar told his wife Paravai that he was going to collect the coins from the local temple tank at Tiruvarur and asked her to accompany him. She would have thought that Sundarar had gone mad. But yet like a faithful wife, she followed him with lot of doubts in her mind. Sundarar stood on the banks of the vast tank (biggest temple tank in Tamil Nadu) and started singing hymns praising Lord Shiva. Surprise! Surprise! All the 12,000 coins came out intact as if they were minted under the tank!

Vridhachalam also known as Tirumudukundram is situated between Chennai and Trichy very near Viluppuram.”


And here comes our Ganesh!

When Sundarar threw the money into the river, he tested the god coins whether they were real gold coins. He made the Ganesh as a witness for all his activities there. So the Ganesh is called Maatru Uraiththa Pillayar, meaning Ganesh who tested the fineness of the gold coins.

ganesh making2

Uchchi Pillayar of Trichy

It is unusual for a Ganesh temple to be located on a hill top. And in Trichy we have a very famous temple on the top of a hill. Since he is at the top he is called Uchchi Pillayar (Ganesh at Top)


Manakkulam (Pondicherry) Vinayakar

Vinayaka means one who has none above him. He is the leader. Manakkulam Vinayaka very near the beach in Pondicheri is famous for two reasons. The greatest of the Tamil poets of modern era is Bharatiyar. When he fought for independence of India, he used to hide in the French ruled Pondicheri of Tamil Nadu (now it is a separate state). He used to worship at the temple and he sang hymns on this Ganesh naming his in poem as Manakkula Vinayaka. Thus Manakkulam Ganesh became immortal in his poems.


The second reason was that the French rulers of Pondicheri never liked big crowd assembling in front of the temple and making ‘noise’. So they threw the Ganesh statue into the sea. Surprise! surprise! The stony Ganesh (Manakkulam Vinayakar) was there in his original place the very next morning. When it came to the knowledge of the surprised authorities they helped Hindus to build a temple. Till today he is attracting a large crowd.

ganapathy rangoli

To be continued……………………….