The Six Abodes of Murugan (Tamil : Āṟupadai Veedu) are six temples situated in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.
The god is known by different names such as Murugan, Kandaswamy, Kartikeya, Skanda, Vadivela at various temples.
The six most sacred abodes of Murugan was mentioned in Tamil sangam literature, “Thirumurugatrupadai”, written by Nakkeerar and in “Thiruppugazh”, written by Arunagirinathar.
The six abodes are Thiruparankundram, Tiruchendur, Palani, Swamimalai, Thiruthani and Pazhamudircholai.
The story of Lord Murugan is described in Skanda Purana. According to the legend, in the olden days the demon Soorapadman tortured the Devas, who went to complain to Lord Vishnu and Brahma.
They assigned Kamadeva to awake Lord Shiva from his penance, who later gave birth to Murugan. Murugan killed Soorapadman and saved the devas.
Lord Muruga is depicted as the god of love and war. Muruga married Valli by love and married Deivayanai by winning the war held at Tiruchendur.
In Tamil literature five types of lands are explained. They are Kurinji (mountainous region), Mullai (forest region), Marutham (agricultural region), Neithal (coastal region) and Palai (desert region).
Separate gods for these land types are clearly told in Sangam literature. According to the literature Lord Muruga is a leader of the Kurinji region.
Arunagirinathar was a 15th-century Tamil poet born in Tiruvannamalai. He spent his early years as a rioter and seducer of women. After ruining his health, he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself from the northern tower of Annamalaiyar Temple, but was saved by the grace of god Murugan.
He became a staunch devotee and composed Tamil hymns glorifying Murugan, the most notable being Thirupugazh.
Arunagirinathar visited various Murugan temples and on his way back to Tiruvannamalai, visited Palani and sung praises about Swaminathaswamy.
Tiruparamkundram is considered the first of the six abodes. This is the only temple where abishekam is performed for Vel instead of Lord Murugan. Palani is considered the most prominent abodes of Lord Muruga.
One of the main traditions of the six temples, is the tonsuring of devotees, who vow to discard their hair in imitation of the Palani deity.
Another is the anointing of the head of the presiding deity’s idol with sandalwood paste, at night, prior to the temple being closed for the day. The paste, upon being allowed to stay overnight, is said to acquire medicinal properties, and is much sought after and distributed to devotees, as rakkāla chandaṇam.
Devotees carry kavadi, an ornamental mount decked with flowers, glazed paper and tinsel work and wearing ochre clothes themselves on foot from long distances is a commonly followed worship practice.