Andal is one of the most extraordinary personalities in religious history. She is known in her native tongue of Tamil as an Alvar, one who is "immersed" in the depths of enjoyment of God, the omnipresent mysterious One. Tradition reckons 12 Alvars
, of which Andal is the only female. Between the fifth and ninth centuries, in the Tamil-speaking region of South India, these saints revitalized the Indian religious milieu, sparking a renewal of devotional worship throughout the subcontinent.
Traveling from place to place, from temple to temple, from holy site to holy site, they composed exceedingly beautiful poetry to their Divine Beloved, Vishnu, as an expression of their love for Him. Anyone can see why their poetry was so attractive; at once both impassioned and philosophical, their words cut across all barriers of caste and class, attracting all to their faith. In doing so, they sculpted a new religious heritage of intensely emotional bhakti, or love of the Divine, whose impact is still felt today in the Indian religious life. Andal, whose life and poetry are celebrated every December-January, is the most visible contributor to this heritage.
A devout brahmin named Vishnucitta (Also called as Periyalvar)
lived in Villiputtur, a town near Madurai saw a beautiful girl baby in his flower garden, under Tulasi plant. Having no family of his own, Vishnucitta felt it was God's grace that gave him this child and named her Godai, or "gift of Mother Earth."
Filled with joy, he took her home and raised her as his own. "Godai" became one of the famous Alvars and was later called as "Andal". Meaning of "Andal" is, the girl who "ruled" over the Lord
Andal composed two works in her short life. Both are in Tamil and are unique in their literary, philosophical, religious, and artistic content. Her contribution is even more remarkable considering that she was a teenage girl when she composed these poems, at a time when there is no other record of Tamil women composing poetry. They are Tiruppavai
and Nacciyar Tirumoli
.Goddess Andal Gayathri :
Om Vishnu Chiththa-maajaya Vidhmahe
Ranga Pathniyaicha Dheemahe
Thanno Godha Prachodayath
Andal - Thanjavur Paintings are made on canvases (wooden plank with layer of cloth). The cloth is then evenly coated with a paste of limestone and a binding medium and let to dry. The artist then draws a detailed sketch of the painting on the canvas. A paste, made of limestone and a binding medium, is used to create 3D effect in embellishing and ornamenting the theme using a brush. Gold leaves and gems of varied hues are used in selected areas like pillars, arches, thrones, dresses, etc. The shine and glean of the gold leaves used by the Thanjavur style paintings last forever. Finally, colours are applied on the sketch. Standard wooden frame is used to house the paintings.
Beautiful paintings of Andal can be given as a gift for Marriage and other functions. Andal Paintings can also be kept in the pooja room.