Who is Chitragupta?
The Chitragupta temple is located in Kanchipuram. It is a unique temple as it is dedicated to Chitragupta, the assistant of Yama, the God of Death. Hindu mythology says that Chitragupta took birth from a painting drawn by Lord Shiva. He was given the task of keeping an account of the good and the evil actions done by humans on earth in order to maintain Dharma. Hence, he was named Chitragupta, Chitra meaning ‘painting/ picture’ and Gupta ‘accountant.’
The Chitragupta Temple
The temple was constructed in the 9th century by the Cholas. It was renovated and expanded by rulers of other kingdoms which succeeded the Cholas. Chitragupta is also regarded as planet Ketu’s Adi-devata and the offspring of the sacred cow, Kamadhenu. Supposedly, he was raised by Lord Indra and Goddess Indrani. In the temple, Chitragupta’s idol is seen seated with a pen in his right hand and some documents in the left hand. Alongside is the idol of his wife, Karnika Ambal. The temple sees huge crowds on Chitra Purnima –the full moon day in the month of Chithirai – which is celebrated every year in April. This day is considered auspicious as it is Chitragupta’s birthday as well.
How Chitragupta Was Born
Once, Lord Shiva and Parvati were talking about the need for someone who could monitor people on earth and maintain an account of their deeds. Lord Shiva took a golden plate and drew a picture on it. Impressed by the picture, Parvati added some details to it and Lord Shiva gave it life and intelligence. Whatever the reason behind the origin of Chitragupta, he is regarded as a representative of the God of death and the main deity to be worshipped on Chitra Purnima day.
Chitragupta and Ketu
As Chitragupta is the Adi Devatha (presiding deity) for the planet Ketu which is one of the Navagraha (9 planets), people believe that worshipping him can help one overcome problems caused by Ketu. People usually visit the temple in Kalahasti for overcoming Naga Dosha, but this is incomplete as Kalahasti is a Parihara Sthala (remedial place) only for Rahu. The Naga Dosha remedy becomes complete only after a visit to the Chitragupta temple on the same day.
Poojas and Offerings for Chitragupta
Hordes of people visit the temple on every Purnima or Full Moon day and special Poojas are done to propitiate him. People offer cereals, multicolor clothes, light seven lamps and do Abishekam to the deity. Chitra Purnima is the major festival celebrated in this temple. On this day, devotees fast or consume unsalted food. A special Pooja is done in the evening, and sweet Pongal is offered as prasadam. The Full Moon day of Chitra Purnima is the most ideal to appease Chitragupta and doing so would bring prosperity and wealth.