TermsExplanations
Aaru Padai VeeduThe six permanent abodes of Lord Muruga before He vanquished Surapadman as the generalissimo of the divine forces
AbhayamRefuge
AbishekamA holy ritual ablution given to the Deity with oil, milk, scented powder, honey, rose water, ghee, sugar-cane juice etc.
Adi SeshaDivine serpent said to have one thousand heads and represented as forming the couch of Lord Vishnu.
AgamasTraditional principles governing worship, construction, festivals in temples.The word Agama means tradition
AiavathamThe legendary white elephant of Indra, the King of the Devas
AlwarsVaishnavite saints whose hymns in praise of Vishnu constitute the tamil canon – considered to be on par with the Vedas.
Amirtham (Amrit)Nectar of immortality
Amman, AmbalGoddess
ApparTirunavukkarasar, one of the foremost of the 63 Saivite Nayanmar saints; associated closely with Tiruvatikai, Paatirippuliyur, Tiruvaiyaru and Tiruppugalur
ArattuA kind of holy bath given to the festival images of the deities, when they are immersed in water on the final day of the annual festival in Kerala and in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu
ArchakarPriest
ArchanaDevotional worship offered to the deity by the priest with flowers or saffron
Artha MandapamAn intermediary space between the Sanctum Sanctorum and the exterior of the temple
ArthajamamThe last of the daily poojas performed at night
AshramA hermitage or abode of ascetics
AshtothramA form of Archana worship usually offered to the deity with a recital of 108 names of a deity
Asthana MandapamAssembly Hall
AsuraDemon
Avataram, AvtarAn Incarnation of God
Bali PeethamAltar or the sacrificial stone
Bhajanai, BhajanGroup singing of divine songs
Bhaktha, BhakthDevotee (The word Bhakti means devotion)
BhattachariarA Brahmin priest belonging to the Vaishnavite sect who offers poojas in a Vishnu temple
ChakramDiscus of Lord Vishnu
ChapparamChariot
DakshinayanamThe sun’s progress south of Equator(July-December)
Darshan, DarisanamSight of God or of holy men
DasavatharamThe ten incarnations of Vishnu to punish the wicked
Deepa AradhanaiA ceremonial waving of lamps – Illuminating the image of a deity with camphor or with a deepam (oil, clarified butter lamps)
DevasthanamA body administering the affairs of the temple
DevaswomThe Keralite name for temples
DwajasthambamThe flag-mast, usually a pillar fixed outside the main shrine in line with the Sanctum Sanctorum
Dwapara YugamThe third among the four Yugas or aeons of time, the current aeon being Kaliyugam
Dwara PalakasFigures of guards of the deities found on either side of the entrance to the Sanctum Sanctorum
GadhaClub
GarbagrihamThe interior of Sanctum Sanctorum
GarudaA mythological bird, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu
GopuramTemple Tower crowning entrances; the foremost of these towes crowning the main entrance is the Raja Gopuram.
GuruPreceptor, Teacher
GurukkalA priest belonging to the Saivite sect who offers pooja in aSiva temple; a gurukkal is also known by the name Sivachariar.
HomamSacrificial ritual conducted with an altar of fire, as a part of daily worship, festivals and special occasions.
HundiA sealed receptacle with a slit at the top in which devotees make offerings to a temple
JeerA spiritual head of Vaishnavites
KailasamSaid to be the foremost abode of Shiva; refers to Mount Kailash in the Himalayas.
KalasanthiThe morning pooja or worship service
Kali YugaThe last of the four yugas or aeons of time before Pralaya or Deluge
Kalyana MandapamA special mandapam dedicated for the ritual celebration of the marriage of the Lord with Goddess
KamadhenuThe holy cow with a human face which is believed to fulfil the desires of devotees
KattalaiA type of endowment of the devotees for doing periodical poojas or offerings
KavachamA metalic cover resembling armour
KavadiA decorated wooden pole with an arch over it carried on shoulders by devotees with offerings such as flowers, milk, rose-water etc., mostly for Lord Muruga with some parade
KireetamHear-wear or Crown
Kodi Kambam (Dwajastambham in Sanskrit)The flag-mast, usually a pillar fixed outside the main shrine in line with the Sanctum Sanctorum
Koil or KovilTemple
Kritha YugaThe first of the Chathur or four yugas or aeons of time before Pralaya or the great deluge; the four yugas are Krithayugam, Treta Yugam, Dwapara Yugam and Kaliyugam.
KshethraSacred place
KumbhabishekamPurification rites carried out after every renovation or construction in a temple
LaksharchanasWorship with the recital of a lakh of divine names of a deity (see archana, ashtothra)
MaangalyamA sacred ornament which is worn by married women as an insignia
MaanyamLanded endowments to the temple servants for their services
MaavilakkuA form of offering to the deity in wich a wick is burnt in an offering of flour paste
MadapalliTemple-kitchen where the food for daily worship services is prepared
Maha MandapamA big hall in temples for holding religious discourses
MahabharathaThe Great Hindu epic describing the famous battle of Kurukshethra between the Pandavas and Kauravas
MakutamThe crown
MandapamA big terraced hall
Mangala SasanamPoems composed by Alwars in parise of Vishnu – constituting the Naalayira Divya Prabandam. (See Alwars)
ManikkavacakarOne of the foremost Saivite Saints who is credited with volumes of poetry, the foremost of which is Tiruvacakam; Tiruvadavoor and Uttirakosamangai in the Pandya Kingdom are 2 of the temples associated with him.
MantrasThe sacred hymns in sanskrit recited during worship services
Moola VigrahamThe presiding deity
MoolasthanamSanctum Sanctorum
MunivarSaint
MuttA religious institution
NagamSerpent
NamamThe Vaishnavite mark of three vertical stripes on the forehead
NambudirisA class of Brahmins belonging to the Kerala State
NandiNandi, the Bull is the ceremonial mount of Shiva; an image of Nandi usually faces Shiva’s sanctum . Shiva temples are also adorned with images of Nandi on the temple walls.
Nava ThirupathisThe nine sacred Vaishnavite shrines
NayanmarsThe sixty three Saivite Saints, whose history is narrated in “Periyapuranam” who lived between the 5th and the 9th centuries, travelling around, visiting various temples , singing hymns of praise. Several miracles are associated with their visits.
NeivedhiyamOfferings to the deity,
OduvarsTorchbearers of the great tradition of Tevaram singing in Siva Temples; hymns that were composed by the Saints Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar in the 7th-9th centuries; now sung in Saivite temples in keeping with ancient tradition.
OM’The sacred syllable representing the universal vibratory sound
PaasuramSacred song in praise of God (generally refer to the works of the Vaishnavite Alwars)
PadaiArmy
PadakkamA locket or pendant
PalliyaraiA bed chamber where the festival deities are kept after the daily poojas
Pancha-MurthysThe five deities,namely,Vinayakar, Murugar, Shiva, Parvati and Chandikeswarar
PanchaksharamA sacred word signifying the five syllables of Namasivaya – signifiying surrender to Shiva
PanchalogamAn alloy of five metals
PancharatraA Vaishnava Agama
PatikamSacred song in praise of God (generally refer to the works of the Saivite Nayanmars)
PayasamSweet Pudding
PoojaA form of ceremonial worship offered to the deity
PoosariA priest who does pooja at village temples
PrabandhamThe celebrated Vaishnavite poetic compilation of the works of the Alwars
PradhoshamEvening of the 13th phase of the moon, 90 minutes before and after Sun set. It is considered auspicious for worshipping Shiva in all Saivite temples – when thousands congregate for worship.
PradishtaInstallation
PrakaramThe verandah or passage around the Sanctum Sanctorum
PranavamThe sacred syllable “OM”
PrasadamAnything given to devotees after being symbolically offered to the deity
PrithviEarth
PushkariniThe sacred temple tank
Raja GopuramThe main temple tower, and usually the loftiest of all towers in a temple, crowning the main entrance to the temple, in the outermost of enclosures
RakshashaDemon
RathamChariot
RishabamA bull
RudrakshamaalaiA roasary neck ornament made of the berry of a particular sacred tree considered to be special in Shiva
Saapa-VimochanamDeliverance from a curse
SadagopamA small metal head-cover on which Vishnu’s feet are engraved and which is placed over the head of worshippers in Vaishnavite temples
Sahasranama ArchanaA form of archarana or worship uaually offered to the deity with a recital of 908 names (see archana, ashtotram, laksharchanai)
SambandarTirugnanasambandar, one of the foremost, as well as the youngest of the 63 Nayanmars; associated closely with Sirkazhi, Tiruvothur and several other shrines.
SandanakaappuSmearing the idol with sandal-wood paste
SarukkamChapter
SayanamReclining posture
SayaratchaiWorship service in the evening
ShankhuThe conch-shell
SimhaLion- a common vahanam or mount used in temples
SivacharyasThe priests in temples belonging to the Saivite sect (see also Gurukkal)
SomavaramMonday
Sthala PuranamThe legend regarding the origin of a sacred place
Sthala VrukshamThe sacred tree connected with the legend of the temple
SthalamA sacred centre
SthupiPillar
SunaiWater-fall
SundararSundaramoorthy Nayanar, one of the foremost of the 63 Saivite Nayanmar saints, associated closely with Tiruvennainallur and several other shrines.
SwayambuThat which comes of its own accord; that which is untouched by a tool; several of the Shiva Lingams adorning the sancta of temples, are believed to be natural mounds, held sacred for centuries.
TapasPenace
Tevara PatasalaA school to teach Tevara hymns of the Nayanmar saints
TevaramCollection of the hymns of the foremost of the Saivite Nayanmars, Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar; set to music; these ancient hymns have had a profound influence on the growth of Karnatic Music, and are even now sung in temples as part of worship.
TheerthamSacred tank of the temple
TheerthavariA festival during which the deity is immersed in holy water (see Aaraattu)
Theppa UtsavamFloat festival in which festival images of deities are led in procession in a float (Teppam), in the temple tank amidst the chanting of hymns and the playin gof music.
TherThe temple car or chariot
ThirumanjanamRitual bath for the image of a deity (see abhishekam)
ThirunakshathramOne of the 27 asterisms under which a saint or a great person is born
ThiruppavaiA set of 30 verses in Nalayira Prabandham by Sri Andal in praise of Lord Vishnu. These hymns are held in great reverence in South India.
ThiruvadiSacred feet of the deity
ThiruvaimozhiDevotional verses by Saint Nammalvar
ThrishoolamThe sacred trident
TiruvacakamPoetic work of Manikkavacakar dedicated to Shiva.
TiruvempaavaiA composition of 18 hymns by Manikkavacakar – at the grand Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar temple; sung ceremoniously during the winter month of Markazhi
Uchikala PoojaMid day worship service
UgramFierce,powerful, angry
Urchavam or UtsavamFestival
Urdhuva ThandavamThe cosmic dance of Lord Siva with one leg lifted in which He defeated Goddess Kali
Ushadkala PoojaEarly morning worship service
UtharayanamThe Sun’s progress – North of Equator (January-June)
Utsava MurthyAn idol taken in procession and worshipped on festival days
VadakalaiA sect among Vaishnavites
VahanamDivine Mount
Vaikanasa AgamamA Vaishnava Agama
VamanaDwarf, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu
VarahaA Boar, the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu
VaramBoon
VelA spear or lance of Lord Muruga
VigrahamImage of a deity
VimanamThe towered roof of a Sanctum; there are several types of vimanams such as the gajaprishta, ashtanga and sabha vimanams.
YagaA special sacrificial ceremony (see homam)
YagasalaiThe place in which a sacrificial ceremony is observed
Yanthra or PeetamThe seat on which the deity is placed
YugamAn age of the world. There are four Yugasor aeons of time namely Kritha Yuga, Thretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, each of which runs into several lakhs of years.