Once in the town of Kanjāroor there was a nobleman known for his unceasing service to the Lord. Mānakkanjāranār, as he was called (the ‘noble one of Kanjāroor’), had but one daughter. She was the apple of his eye, and the time had come for her to marry. Noble elders came seeking her hand for the heir of their illustrious clan, the “Eyars”. Mānakkanjāranār agreed to their plea, as befitting his lineage, and so the boy’s father fixed an auspicious date for the wedding. Meanwhile the Lord put on the guise of a Kapālika hermit — head clean-shaven and covered with ash, a sacred thread of hair, a pouch for holding ash, a shining wrist-band and the Vedas for his loin-cloth. When the Lord arrived at the scene of the wedding, the bride bowed to pay him obeisance. As she knelt, the hermit glimpsed her thick lustrous tresses and exclaimed, “These will serve for fashioning my sacred thread.” Without any hesitation, the father sheared his beautiful daughter’s hair and offered the lot to the hermit. The hermit immediately vanished but, in his place, the Lord gave darshan from the heavens, raining golden flowers over the earth. He then spoke to Mānakkanjāranār: “I did this to show the world the extent of your devotion.” The bridegroom, having just arrived and beholding his bride-to-be with cropped hair, was amazed to hear what had transpired. But suddenly, by the Lord’s grace, the locks of the maiden grew thick and long as before, and the wedding took place in all grandeur.
Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.