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Saiva Sithantha Sungam – Johannesburg North Branch
Thiruneeru – Holy Ash

The first Saivite emblems which are essential that Saivites should wear on their bodies -

There are two, namely "Thiruneeru" (holy ash) and "rudraksha" seed

One of the primary religious emblems of a Saivite are “Thiru Neeru” – the holy ash and the Sanskrit name is “Vibhoothi”. Every one of the Saivite Saints have sung in praise of Thiru-Neeru and have exhorted us to wear it with devotion. It is a universal symbol for anyone claiming to be a Saivite. As this adorns the person's forehead and in some cases, body – it purifies our mind and it is a talisman that protects one from all dangers. Thiruneetru Pathigam sung by Saint Sampandar illustrates the power of Thiruneeru very aptly. Sambandar has given 54 characteristics to Thiru-Neeru, a great many of which are well known attributes of SivaSakthi. If we wear the sacred as in the right way and the right spirit, our actions (Kriya) desires (Icha) and understanding (Gnana) get sublimated (the three lines on forehead per below). Saint Manikavasagar says “if desirous of wearing Thiru neeru, wear it in abundance”. Saint Sampandar demonstrated the medicinal value of holy ash when he cured the ailing Pandya king, by applying the Holy ASH on him and singing its glories as seen in the Thiruneetru pathigam – Mandiram Maavathu Neeru.
Panchakshara mantra and the above Pathigam are generally recited by devotees while smearing Thiru Neeru. The ash of any burnt object is not regarded as holy ash. In an age-old practice is made out of dried cow dung cakes. Generally applied on the body at 16 places, at forehead, neck, chest, arms, stomach elbow, and wrists. Some apply it on other parts of the body, like the knees, toes, and scalp. It is considered very auspicious especially to the Saiva sect of people worldwide to smear Thiru Neeru all over the body.