āvaraṇa-devatā

(‘deity [installed in the area] surrounding [the main deity]’)

The garbhagṛha (sanctum sanctorum) of a Hindu temple is generally surrounded by āvaraṇas or enclosures whose number may vary from one to seven. Though the main purpose of these āvaraṇas is to provide space for pradakṣiṇā (circumambu-lation) round the main deity, they also serve to accommodate the images of other deities considered to be the attendants or the retinue of the main deity. These deities are called ‘āvaraṇa-devatās’ or ‘parivāra-devatās.’

The Vaikhānasāgama lists as many as 135 parivāradevatās spread over seven āvaraṇas for a Viṣṇu temple. Brahmā, Aniruddha, Trivikrama, Varuṇa, Śukra, Bṛhaspati, Subhadrā—these are some of the deities listed there.

In a Śiva temple, Devī, Caṇḍeśvara and Brahmā find a place in the āvaraṇas.

In a Devī temple, Śiva, Viṣṇu and Gaṇapati will invariably be there. So also Kārttikeya or Subrahmaṇya.