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The Temples Etched in my Memory

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by twinsmom, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    In my childhood, there were frequent trips to temples in different parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In fact, my dad has taken the family mostly on temple tours rather than on sightseeing sojourns. The temples in and around Trichur were an integral part of our wonder years, starting with the nearby Thiruvambady temple which we look upon as our 'family temple’. The Vadakkunnathan, Paramekkavu were as much visited as Shankarankulangara temple, Shivankovil and Ramar temple in Ponganam, Asokeshwaram on pradosham evenings and thiruvaadirai mornings. The visits to the Thriprayaar temple used to fill me with terror because of the incessant ‘Vedi Vazhipaadu’ (offering in the form of explosive crackers?... Effect definitely lost in translation!)

    During my dad’s stint at Palghat, the regular visits would be to the Kalpathi and Mandakarai temples and the Noorni Sasthaa temple. But I used to love my visits to the Vadakkanthara temple and Chittoor Amman Kovil, our family’s ancestral deity’s abode. Both these temple would fill me with terror, for the devis in these temples seemed to sport roudra bhava (the angry mood). The Aithihyamala, with its collection of legends and folklore had a lot to do with moulding my mindset… And I used to be terrified, looking at the goddess at Chittoor Kaavu or the <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Amman</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY> in Vadakkantharai.

    In <ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Trivandrum</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY>, though we used to visit the Padmanabhaswami temple, our favourite used to be Pazhavangadi Ganapathi. Somehow He was an integral part of all our ventures. There were occasional trips to Aattukaal Bhagavathi temple and Srikhandeswaram temples.

    When we were in Kannoor, we used to frequent the Thalaappu Sundareshwara temple, Subramanya temple in Payyannoor and the Ramar temple in Thaliparambu.

    Guruvaayur used to be a treat. The long drive, the shops selling devotional knick-knacks, the sight of huge elephants, the smell of cooked rice being strained in the temple kitchen, the thulaabharams, the taste of the prasadam of sugar and bananas and of course, my fantasies in which a young Krishnan talked to me and accompanied me while I did the pradakshinams… all added to the magical aura of the temple. I revisited years later with my 4 year old twins but the teeming crowd and the rude ushers made me realize just how much things have changed.

    <ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Temples</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY> in Kerala are a bit different from those in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. They are more tradition- bound and stricter. I should not be saying this, but they also seem less commercialized - I don’t know…that is not the right word, but the atmosphere is somewhat different in the other states though the aura inside the temples are the same. What I used to dislike in some temples were the presence of bats… normally found in temples with tall gopurams.

    <ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Temples</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY> in Tamil Nadu seemed more ostentatious. I never understood who all the ‘Alwaars’ were and why they were being worshipped. Of course, when it came to the sanctum sanctorum, all doubts vanished…and my heart would be inundated with a fervent devotional feeling. I recall with fondness, the Madurai Meenakshi temple with all its additional sanctums. In fact, I have not been to any shrine of Saraswathi other than inside the <ST1:pLACE><ST1:pLACENAME>Meenakshi</ST1:pLACENAME><ST1:pLACETYPE>Temple</ST1:pLACETYPE></ST1:pLACE> at <ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Madurai</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY> ( though I do know there is one in Kerala.) My recollections of Thiruchendur, and nearby temples are very vague. The mind recalls only the elaborate paintings on the walls and the priest who turns into a tourist guide… Again there are only vague recollections of the temples in Trichy and Kumbhakonam ( visited during my vacations with my dearest Uncle and Aunt…)Kanyakumari and Srirangam.

    The two or three trips to Pazhani temple have etched permanently in my mind the dark green hills, never ending steps, terrifying winch- rides and the taste of delicious panchamrutham...

    Marriage transplanted me to Karnataka which also has its share of celebrated temples. Somehow I didn’t much care for the temples in Belur, Halebid , Hampi and Sravanabelagola -- which seem more of tourist attractions due to their architectural splendour than worshipping centres. This is strictly a personal observation, perhaps a shade too biased. But there have been magnificent experiences in Dharmasthala, Subramanya, Kollur, Udupi and my personal favourite – Horanadu!

    Dharmasthala exudes the devout atmosphere of the Kerala temples. Kukke Subramanya and Kollur Mookambika are both charming temples nestled among the forests in the mountains where you can’t help being moved by the atmosphere of ardent devotion.

    But as far as I am concerned, Horanadu Annapoorneshwari temple is a must for the faithful. Anyone who crosses over the stream and travels through the lush countryside to the beautiful temple will be mesmerized by the life- sized statue of Annapurneshwari with a bowl in one hand and a ladle in the other, truly a delight to the eyes of the devotee.

    Sringeri temple is home to the Sarada Peetham established by Adi Shankaracharya Located amidst the Sahyadri hills and on the banks of the Thungabhadra river, the temple combines both the Hoysala and Dravidian architecture. Another temple that is a treat to the eyes and heart is the Muradeshwar temple near Bhatkal. With the <ST1:pLACE>Arabian Sea</ST1:pLACE> on one side and the ghats on the other, this temple is situated on top of a hill…truly awesome abode of Shiva. But a real picturesque place is the Nanjangodu temple. Somehow I felt it had the Tamil Nadu touch! Chamundeshwari temple at <ST1:CITY><ST1:pLACE>Mysore</ST1:pLACE></ST1:CITY> is more of a tourist experience for me…

    There are two temples in Dubai... The Shiva temple and the Krishna temple... Both are essentially North Indian in the sense that the priest and practices are totally different from those in the temples I have mentioned above... But God being Omniscient and Omnipresent, we should not segregate places of worship... It is a pleasure to go to a temple in a land where your rights are somewhat curtailed. But the problems that hinder frequent visits to these temples are....Time and Parking facilities. Since one gets only the Fridays, for going to the temple on weekdays is impossible. Then, parking becomes a great problem... as 80% of the temple goers are out on Fridays... so the better half baulks at going out! As a result all liaisons with God are generally limited to the Pooja room....Room? 'Pooja niche', I mean!

    Since all my worship is about communication with God, I can do it at a personal level at home....Yet, I do miss those grand structures and that devotional air that are the hallmarks of South Indian temples.
     
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  2. honeybee

    honeybee Gold IL'ite

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    Dear twinsmom
    Thanks for the wonderful journey down the memory lane..

    I frequent guruvayur temple and It's one place where I do feel the vibration.It's some thing which cannot be explained,just felt.
    Yes.. I love to shop in the small shops on east nada..They have amazing stuff.I never return empty handed however hard I try.. there is always some new, eye catching stuff on display.

    In palakkad all the temples you have mentioned + manapulli bhagavathy temple are must visit places..
    My input to list of temples I love would be..
    "Sri Rama temple" in Thiruvilwamala .A very serene temple.. less frequented by visitors even to this day, located right on top of a hill and close to the famous "punarjani caves".
     
  3. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    Dear honeybee,
    OH! I forgot Manapully Kavu.... Been there.... But never got a chance to go to Thiruvillvamala... Once or twice Dad has taken the elders in the home there...
    Thank you for visiting my temple blog!
     
  4. vmur

    vmur Silver IL'ite

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    Your write up sounded like my India vacation. My dad is such a temple freak (I should admit I am getting there too), that every India vacation, we are busy hopping from one temple to the other. But most of them are in the Trichy-Tanjore-Kumbakonam and Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur belt. The trips get soo hectic that the first two times my husband had no idea which temple he went to. He would say Sabarimalai for Swamimali. :oops:

    So I started doing some homework for him and would prepare him in advance about the "Sthala Puranam", "Dieties" etc. He does better these days.

    But poor guy, he gets soo exhausted esp in the Indian heat, that he says he needs another vacation to relax after the India vacation. :biggrin2:

    Regards
    Vidya
     
  5. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Vidya,
    Now.... Sthalapuraanams... I used to enjoy reading up on those... My grandfather had a lovely book called Kshetrapuranam... about all the temples in India... I used to spend days immersed in it!
    While I was carrying my twins, I used to get dreams of strange temples... and the next morning I'll keep pestering my mother about the temples... or look it up in Thatha's book...

    Temple legends are simply wonderful to read... I love going to temples... Am sure your Husband will also remember these trips later on in life.
     
  6. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    My daughters who had been to india for the past 3 years, on a vacation, had their dose of trips to the temples over there. In their 1st year they visited the temples in and around Kancheepuram, in their 2 nd year they went to Mantralayam and in their 3rd year they visited Rameswaram and Madurai Meenakshi Amman temples. They have on their list to visit Chidambaram, Tirupathi, etc. for the coming years.
    Sriniketan
     
  7. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    Do tell them to visit Horanadu and Sringeri, Mookambika ( kollooru) temples in Karnataka....also Subramanya and Dharmasthala.... Beautiful temples!
     
  8. corallux

    corallux Bronze IL'ite

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    Hi Twinsmom,

    How are you?

    Your post reminds me of the time I went around when my hubby decidedto get his "Naadi" astrology in Kanchi

    Forget the 'predictons' I really thank the person who asked him to go on a pilgrimage on some lovely temples in TN

    We were asked to go to Palani, A temple called Bhu Varaha Swamy & Sri Rangam.

    Sri Rangam completed the Triology of Ranganath Swamy temples the others being: SriRangapatnam, Anantha Swamy temple in Thiruananthapuram & the Sri Rangam..My onle wish when I was a kid was to get his Snake so that mom cld not wake me up for school:-D ..Still waiting.

    Got married to a Kanndiga & was introduced to Nanjangud & was introduced to the stricter South Indian style of temple worship..I had this incident when I first went-I tried to walk in straight into the Sanctum as we do in the North & was gently reminded by the priests "brahmins only"...

    Twinsmom, Temples in the south of India are much better preserved beacuse of less foreign invasions...but one thing saddens me-the plight of the temples....some of them are in a state of utter neglect....

    It looks asthough a temple no longer needs a sthala mahima to survive..what a temple needs is a celebrity to endorse its importance...

    A temple in south is more than a place of worship it is a community centre..hence they were the first target of attcks for foreign invaders..

    It is now Sravan & how my ears miss the early morning mantras & temple bells ringing the aspirations of the devotees...The cries of Shiv Shambo when I pured milk on Shivji on Savan Mondays & the atmosphere..

    Yep welcome to the world of NRIs
     
  9. twinsmom

    twinsmom Silver IL'ite

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    Dear corallux,
    That is a wonderful recollection of temple going days... Yes, we do miss our temples don't we? And I love, the austere atmosphere of strict temples...
     
  10. corallux

    corallux Bronze IL'ite

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    Amen Sister Amen

    The aura & the mystry in the temples in the south is something to be experienced....The smell of burnt camphor with jasmine flowers & the low chants of prayers....

    I yearn for the temples that believe in silence & not like the ones we have here in Melbourne..it is more of a social meeting place rather than where you can go for some de-stress therapy..

    Twinsmom, I do not know how it is in other parts of the world..here it is more of who "controls" the affairs of the temple....The Carrum downs temple is more of Sri Lankan in character....

    But as how my parents say " Be happy with what you have"

    Your post is very nostalgic & takes me back to a more happy time when prayers were to get rid of a very strict maths teacher or to help me win the next game of cards with my brothers..Now the list is endless...

     

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