Mumbai: Srirangam – one of Tamil Nadu’s most popular divine destinations – is located in an island between the Cauvery and Kollidam rivers. Dedicated to Lord Ranganathar, this temple carries forward the legacy of the Vaishnava cult. Not many people know that the Lord worshipped in this temple has a Muslim consort. Yes, you heard that right.
A legend associated with the Lord’s Muslim wife has historic and spiritual connections. According to the popular belief, the Lord had come in the dream of the head priest in the temple to announce his decision to accept a Muslim royal lady as his bride. The Lord had even instructed the priest to perform all the temple rituals in honour of his consort too. Thus was established a painting of the Muslim Princess along with the Lord’s idol.
But how did the story unfold? It’s quite an interesting tale of faith and love that transcends barriers of caste, colour and creed.
The story dates back to the times of Delhi Sultanate. Malik Kafur looted and plundered temples in south India. The priests of the Srirangam temple somehow protected the Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) from getting looted but couldn’t prevent the small idol of the Lord made of five precious metals from going into the hands of Kafur’s army.
After gathering much wealth and jewellery, the gang headed to Delhi. A royal Muslim woman, who happened to catch a glimpse of the Lord’s deity instantly, fell in love with it. She treated it with great love and was very attached to the idol.
A few people in Srirangam mustered courage to approach the Delhi Sultanate and request them to return the deity.
The Sultan obliged the devotees by returning the idol to them but his daughter was terribly upset. She was so much in love with the deity that she couldn’t bear the separation.
She left for Srirangam and breathed her last at the Lord’s feet.
The Muslim bride of the Lord came to be known as Thulukka Naachiyaar (Muslim wife) by his devotees. As a mark of respect and admiration, the priests offer prayers to her during daily rituals and offer rotis to her as Prasad.