By Acarya Dasa
Our party reached Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu on February 8th, which is also known as “Nellai” or during the British rule, “Tinnevelly”.It is located 624 kilometers (388 miles) southwest of the state capital, Chennai and is 48 kilometers away from Thoothukudi. The city is located on the western bank of the Thamirabarani River and its twin city Palayamkottai is on the eastern bank.
Celebrating Lord Nityananda’s appearance day with Tirunelveli devotees
We arrived in Tirunelveli a day before our beloved Sri Nityananda’s appearance. He walks with us day and night, in the sun and rain, inspiring us within our hearts to preach. When Lord Nityananda was in Bengal, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed him to spread the holy names of Krishna throughout Bengal. Now he travels with us on padayatra spreading the holy names everywhere.
The ISKCON “Sri Sri Krishna Balaram” temple cum yoga center in Tirunelveli invited us to join them in celebrating Lord Nityananda’s appearance on February 9th. All the devotees fasted till noon and prayed to Lord Nitayananda for spiritual strength. We brought the utsava deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai to the main temple hall where we all sang bhajans glorifying the Lord, and afterwards we had a grand sankirtana. Later, Sankhadhari Dasa gave a class glorifying Lord Nityananda and the importance of his mercy for a sadhaka. He also spoke about the Thamirabarani river, a perennial river originating from the famous Agastyarkoodam peak in the Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats above Papanasam in the Ambasamudram taluk. It flows through Tirunelveli and the Tuticorin districts in the state of Tamil Nadu state. He then went on to speak about Tamraparni. Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila chapter nine details the Lord’s travels in South India. There it mentions how He stopped at a place called Tamraparni in Pandya-desa:
sei ratri tahan rahi’ tanre krpa kari’
pandya-dese tamraparni gela gaurahari
Translation: “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed that night in the house of the brahmana. Then, after showing him mercy, the Lord started toward Tamraparni in Pandya-desa.”
Tamraparni is also known as Purunai and is situated on the bank of the Tinebheli river. This river flows into the Bay of Bengal. Tamraparni is also mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
In Madhya Lila, 9.219 states that Mahaprabhu bathed in the Tamraparni river at Naya-tripati, a little southeast of Tirunelveli.
tamraparni snana kari’ tamraparni-tire
naya tripati dekhi’ bule kutuhale
Translation: “There was also a temple of Lord Visnu at Naya-tripati on the bank of the river Tamraparni, and after bathing in the river, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw the Deity with great curiosity.”
Sankhadhari Dasa said that anyone who takes bath in this river or stays at the banks of this river is very fortunate. He then welcomed all the padayatris and gave us the honor of doing abhishek for their Lordships. The Deities were bathed in scented water and given a sandalwood oil massage. After being massaged, They were bathed in panchamrita (milk, curd, sweetened water, ghee and honey) and panchagavya. They were then bathed with exotic fruit juices and water mixed with herbal extracts. The bathing festival was followed by pushpa-vrishti (showering of fragrant flowers on the deities). The devotees then offered Nitai Gaurasundara a feast of 56 food preparations (chappan bhoga)
We stayed in the city of Tirunelveli for five days and during this time we did sankirtana in different parts of the city and nearby villages. The congregation devotees helped us by bringing us to different places where we could perform sankirtana. and joined us as well. We distributed a lot of books in the city with the congregation devotees making all the necessary arrangements.
It is also said that Lord Balaram visited Tirunelveli during his yatra there is even a temple of Lord Balaram there. So, we were in the city where Lord Balaram had come and we had our beloved Sri Sri Nitai Guarsundar with us. Thus, we were surcharged with spiritual strength to carry on with our mission after celebrating this holy day.
Jai Sri Sri Nitai Guarsundar ki! Jai!
 Madhya-lila 9.218
 Madhya-lila 9.219
 A mixture of five products from cows