Alangaram Essestials

An alangara for your home deity is incomplete without the following items listed below. Of course, you can still adorn your deity if these items are not available. However, if you are passionate about doing alangaram, it would be a worthwhile investment to set aside some money every month to buy these items. 

1) Vastram
There are basically three types of Vastram (clothing) used in South Indian temples.

  • Ull Vastram
  • Velli Vastram
  • Angga Vastram

a) The Ull vastram is also called the Sesha Vastram in temples. It is similar in function to the undergarments that we use. For this, a small cloth, preferably silk,  is used to cover the lower body of the deity. For female deities, a slightly longer cloth is used to cover both the upper and lower parts of the deity. If the deity is bigger in size, a small paavadai can be used for this purpose.

b) The Velli or Alangara Vastram as it is sometimes called is similar to the shirt & pants/ dhoti that we wear. Silk is always the best material to use for this vastram. It is usual practice to pad the chest area of the deity with some cloth before putting on the vastram. This padding serves to enhance the overall look of the deity

c) The Anga Vastram usually adds the final touch to an adorned deity. This vastram is placed across the shoulders of the deity the way a garland is placed. In fact, it can even replace a garland, if you do not have one for that day.

2) Thiru Mala Thaangi
(Note: It is customary to add the prefix 'Thiru' to items that are used in alangaram)
The mala thaangi is a wooden rod that is fastened securely on a deity’s shoulders for the purpose of holding a garland. This rod has to be fastened even before putting on the Velli vastram or the padding.

The rod is usually about 4 - 5 inches (10 – 13 cm) long, wide enough to hold a flower garland of average thickness. The benefit of using a Mala Thaangi for the garland is that the flowers will then not cover or obstruct the view of the vastram, the jewellery and the hands of the deity.

3) Keeridam
The keeridam or the crown is one of the main attractions of an adorned deity. Keeridams come in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. They can be made of  velvet, silver or even copper. The gold plated ones look exquisite. But the most majestic of all is the stone studded ones that never fail to dazzle.
Before placing the keeridam on the deity’s head, it may be necessary (depending on the size of your deity) to tie a piece of black cotton cloth around the deity's head several times, like a turban. This will ensure that the keeridam sits securely on the deity’s head.

4) Aabarnam
Aabarnam refers to the holy jewellery used to adorn a deity.
The basic aabarnam comprises fo the following:

  • Thiruman Kaapu                         (forehead insignia)
  • Yajnopavitram                             (sacred thread)
  • Thirumaarbu Lakshmi or thaali   (nuptial jewellery)

In addition, the other items that are used to adorn a deity are:

  • Thiru Kalkitharaai                         (head band)
  • Thiru kaatuodam                          (chest jewellery)
  • Pathakam                                     (pendants)

It is also customary to complete an alangaram with a haaram or a chain such as Saaligrama haaram, Kaasu mala, or a chain of pearls or coral. These chains sort of outline the aabarnam used and makes the adornment complete.

5) Pushpa Malai
The use of flower garlands to complete an alangaram is an art in itself. While some people make garlands for specific purposes such as the kondai mala for the head, the use of off-the-shelf garlands works just as well. Where fresh flowers are not available, I recommend the use of the shenbaga poo mala made of either silver or copper dipped in gold. This is quite commonly used in divyadesam temples.

In conclusion, any alangaram, done with the above-mentioned items, will surely turn out beautiful. However, as with everything else in life, you need to be patient and practice often before you eventually get the hand of it. The ideas above will definitely help you get started. Here’s wishing you all the best!


Saathupadi Essestials

Saathupadi, in my opinion, is an alangaram done at a higher level. It takes years to master this art and to get the body-arm-leg proportion right. If you plan to venture into this area of alangaram, I would suggest that you first acquire the basic items. As you get better, you can obtain the other items that will make you saathupadi as good as a divyadesam one.

Hastam - Paadam

The hastam-paadam or movable hands and legs are the foundation of a saathupadi. Without the movable hands and legs, it is almost impossible to create poses for your deity. The hastam (hand) is made of bronze cast and can be gold plated. It comes in various pose such as abaya hastam and dolla hastam. The movable hand can be attached to your deity using a metal wire and lots of cloth




Om Namo Narayanaaya | Om Namo Bagavadey Vasu Devaaya



Best viewed in Internet Explorer at with screen resloution of 1024 by 768 pixles