Andal's songs are imbued with bridal mysticism.
Her life-history is misty with legends and myths. She was
supposed to be discovered as an infant lying under a Tulsi
(Basil) plant by the temple priest, Perialwar, also known
as Vishnuchitta. Her birth date has been assigned by modern
scholars to the middle of 7th century A.D.
The Vishnu temple at Srivilliputtur (some
sixty kilometres from the modern city of Madurai) was where
Andal developed her bridal devotion. Daily she would deck
herself with flower garlands and imagine herself to be the
bride of Krishna. In her imagination, she went back to the
times when Krishna sported with Gopis in Gokula on the banks
of the Yamuna river.
She deemed herself to be a Gopi, rising early in the morning,
waking her companions from sleep, having a ritualistic bath
and going to Nandagopa's residence to pay homage to Krishna.
This imagery is the central theme of Tiruppavai, a string
of 30 songs.
Legend has it that Andal was taken in bridal attire to Sri
Ranganatha's temple at Srirangam, where she entered the sanctum
sanctorum got merged with the Lord.
The temple at Srivilliputtur today houses the images of Ranganatha
and Andal, as the Lord and His spouse, where thousands throng
to worship, especially during the month of Margasirsa (December
15 to January 15).
Recitation of Andal's 30 songs of Tiruppavai is resorted to
by women of South India during this period.