Why to go to a Sivan Temple??
Those who have gone to the Sivan Kovil would have known of the habit of sitting before coming out of the temple. The sitting time varies between just a second to the maximum of a minute.
And you will be surprised to find, that the whole purpose of visiting the Temple is for that Sitting.
Saiva Sidhantham has advaitam in its deepest root.
“ஆதியனே அந்தம் நடுவாகி அல்லானே,
ஈர்த்து எனை ஆட்கொண்ட எந்தை பெருமானே”
“Aadhiyane andham naduvaaghi allane!
Eerthu enai aatkonda aendhai perumaane!” is how Manickavasagar calls the Almighty.
If the whole of this universe is one, why do we need to go to a particular place to search him??
The samsara sagaram acts on us everyday and it is a fact that the normal loukeeka[worldly/earthly/materialistic] human mind cannot practice advaitam 24hrs a day. Thus it is prescribed to visit the shivalayam to practice and meditate on the oneness of the universe.
If we are going to temple to meditate on the oneness of the universe, why do we then have so many Gods and Idols there??
A normal child has an exam tomorrow, and before opening the book this afternoon, if he watches a very interesting movie, it will be difficult for him to concentrate on his studies, right away. Just being rolled in the samsara sagaram, and immediately starting to mediate on Brahmam is not an easy task. The deities in the temple are meant to gradually bring the devotee into the world of spirituality.
The procedure for worship in a shivan kovil, astonishingly matches with this.
The worship starts with SriGanesha. The agama shastras have made the form of Ganesha [human body, elephant face, pot belly, and with all this sitting over a mooshikam] so well that, concentrating on Ganesha as the supreme power and worshiping is, relatively easier, and to come from the world around to the spiritual mindset.
Worshipping and concentrating on the parivara devatas, [who mostly have human form mebbe with 4 arms] as the supreme, get the mind closer to the spirituality and prepares for realizing the oneness.
This is then followed by the ShivaLinga darshanam. The supreme now has a form, but it is just a simple object where the mind can concentrate.
Now that the individual intellect has been able to come out of the hassles of the daily routines, it is ready for the next step, to reach out to meditate on the Brahman. This meditation is what is done while sitting in the temple before coming out.
Thus the range of deities present in the temple is to prepare oneself for the sitting and meditating on the supreme.
For effective realization of the supreme,
1. Go to the temple, preferably alone, if not possible, detach from the companion for the time in the temple. It is important that the closest and only influence you have before sitting to meditate is the Ganesha / Subrahmanaya / Lingam.
2. Spend enough time at the sannidhis till you have got the mental set to move on to the next stage.
3. Concentrate at least for 10 minutes, where you are able to realize the beauty and magnificence of the oneness of the universe.
4. Enjoy the bliss, get recharged, and composed to take on the rest of the days.
Ps: The above views have come up purely out of my thought process, which is hence limited to the exposure I have.