Nachiyar Koil (Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple) – Religious Significance
The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Thirumangai Azhwar in hundred hymns. It is the second temple revered by Thirumangai having more than hundred verses, the first one being the Neelamegha Perumal Temple at Thirukannapuram.
Thirumangai compares Srinivasa Perumal of the temple with Venkateshwara (form of Vishnu) at Tirupathi and believes that he found the same beauty in both of them. It is also believed that when Thirumangai was asked to present a madal (ballad) by Ranganatha of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, Thirumangai replied that he built the walls in Srirangam, while he built the verses for Thirunaraiyur.
The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. The temple is the place where Vishnu is believed to have initiated Pancha Samskara (religious initiation) to Thirumangai. The temple is also quoted as a Siddhi Kshetra, a sacred place where sages attain earthly liberation. The place is considered sacred on account of being the hermitage of Sage Medhavi. In Vaishnava theology, Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Kanchipuram is referred as Athigiri and Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupathi as Seshagiri and the temple at Thirunaraiyur is referred as Suganthagiri.
Nachiyar Koil is one of the few Divyadesams where the goddess has prominence over Vishnu. Some of the other temples where the such female dominance are observed are Andal Temple at Srivilliputhur, Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Temple at Woraiyur and Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple in Tiruvellarai. While Srivilliputhur is called Nachiyar Thiru Maaligai, Thirunaraiyur is called Nachiyar Koil.
Vishnu was of the view that during Kali Yuga, men would have to listen to women. Hence he decided that he would first set an example and listen to goddess here. During all festive occasions, the first rights are reserved for Nachiyar, who moves ahead, while Srinivasa follows her. Even the food is first served to Nachiyar and then to Srinivasa. Being a temple where goddess has prominence, Vishnu is located slightly by the side and goddess has the prominent position inside the sanctum.