Mythologically, the third incarnation of Vishnu was in the form of Varaha, the Boar. There are a number of temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the aspect of this incarnation. One of such famous temples is at Tiruvadantai, 27 miles from Chennai towards south on the way to Mahabalipuram.
The main deity is 3m (9 ft) tall and is called "Sri Lakshmi Adi Varaha". He is also known as "Sri Nritya Kalyana Perumal'. The Lord holds a conch in his upraised right hand and the disc in his left. The name of the Goddess is "Akhilavalli Ammal". The Goddess is seated over the left thigh of Lord Vishnu in his Varaha aspect, His left hand encircling Her waist, while Her feet are held in His lower right hand palm. Only the right leg of Varahaswami is touching the floor.
The deity is decorated with a garland formed of 108 saligrams around the neck. The legend goes that one Hariseka Maharaj, the ruling chief of Mahabalipuram, possessed this garland originally. He was a great devotee of Adi Varahaswami and it was his daily routine to visit the temple and pay homage. When he became old and was physically unable to move, he presented the garland to the presiding deity.
There are four Utsavamurtis (processional deities), namely, Nitya - kalyanaswami, Kottukar, Palpo Perumal and Spathanaperam. On festive occasions the processional deities are taken around the temple.
Once upon a time there lived a sage named Kalava at Tiruvadantai. He had 360 daughters. Tiruvadantai was a great city in those days and had 360 Agraharam (streets where Brahmins lived). As the sage was greatly honoured and respected, one daughter was taken up by each of the 360 streets to be respectfully maintained and looked after. Time rolled on. In due course, when the girls came of age it became a great anxiety for the sage how to get them married suitably. Praying fervently, the sage resigned himself to God.
Lord Vishnu elected to take the form of a 'Brahmachari' (bachelor) and appeared in the first Agraharam and broached the subject of marriage with the first daughter and then married her. It is customary with newly married Hindu couples to visit the village temple and pay their homage to the presiding deity and receive blessings for their future life. When the Brahmachari visited the local Varahaswami temple with his newly - wedded wife, he and his wife both mysteriously vanished in the sanctum sanctorum.
On the second day, Vishnu again took the form of another Brahmachari and proposed marriage with the second daughter in the second Agraharam and married her too. After marriage when the couple visited the local temple they too disappeared. Likewisely, mysteriously, a new Brahmachari used to be performed with one of Kalava Maehashi's 360 daughters. And when the newly married couples visited the Varahaswami temple, they just vanished.
When all the 360 girls vanished in this manner, the episode reached Maharshi Kalava. He was bewildered and agitated and wanted to know from God Himself the whereabouts of his daughters and sons-in-law.
When the Sage entered the, sanctum sanctorum of the temple with the object of knowing from the Lord's mouth the where abouts of his daughters, Lord Vishnu appeared before him as Varaha, the Boar, holding all the 360 daughters on lap. Lord Varahaswami embraced all the 360 daughters of Maharshi with his left hand and pressed all the 360 souls into single soul of Lakshmi, His consort, making her sit on his raised thigh. The merging of the souls of his daughters with that of Goddess Lakshmi enlightened the Sage.
The sage was greatly elated that Goddess Lakshmi considered him fit enough to be her father. As the marriage episode continued day after day for the 360 days of the year, the presiding deity was fondly named "Nityakalyanaswami" (Nitya means daily, Kalyana means marriage). Gradually the place gained in importance.