The festival of marriage is celebrated for Murukan with His two shaktis – Valli and Theyvayanai to denote two philosophical concepts.
i) Shakthi is inseparable from God, like heat inherent in fire. Grace or compassion is its nature. Just as fire’s heat performs many functions in burning, frying and roasting. God’s shakti too, out of its compassion for the souls, performs many functions. Of these, the desire to help them (iccha) doing what is necessary (kiriya) and the knowledge or wisdom needed (jnana) are sometimes depicted as separate shaktis. Thus Murukan’s vel is regarded as jnana shakti, Theyvayanai as kiriya shakti and Valli as iccha shakti. Hence the form of Murukan holding the spear and flanked on both sides by Valli and Theyvayanai is one in which all His three shakthis are evident. It shows that after the subjugation of Suran, the Lord will begin again His five-fold functions and help us to reach salvation (mukti).
ii) Amuthavalli and Suntharavalli were the daughters of Thirumal. They had worshipped Murukan with severe penance. As a result they were born as Theyvayanai and Valli. After the defeat of Suran the devas and Indra, joyous with their freedom from that asura, is said to have given Indra’s daughter Theyvayanai in marriage to Murukan. Here she symbolises the souls that attain mukti by uniting with God’s kiriya shakti that grants bliss.
Though Suntharavalli was the daughter Thirumaal who was worshipping Shiva as a Sivamuni, she grew up as the child of the hunter-chief Nampi. Murukan went to her in the form of a hunter, took different forms, like an old man and a venkai tree, made Vinayaka appear before her as an elephant and finally won her heart and married her. She symbolises a soul which had reached perfection. When it takes a body, it may forget its perfect state but God comes in search of it. Meeting it at its own level He gradually grants it true knowledge and finally mukti.
Thus Thirukkalyanam is the union of the soul (as the lady) uniting with God (its Lord). This union too is of two types as shown by the marriage of Theyvayanai and Valli. Besides God’s grace, the souls may also make individual efforts to reach Him. This is known as the markada sampantham; this is the relationship of Theyvayanai to God. The other is called the marccala sampantham. Valli’s relationship resembles this. So the Thirukkalyanam reminds us to work towards our union with Him and to prepare ourselves to be spiritually worthy of receiving His grace and finally mukti. Those observe the Kanthasashdi Fast for the six days, enthrone Him in their hearts and rejoice in their thoughts of Him, will certainly obtain the due benefits.
By Dr. Devapoopathy Nadarajah, from the book titled Centenary Celebration, Sri Kandaswamy Temple (2002)