My father has made the most of my trip, and made me visit all the temples on his must-visit list. This time the trip was just a couple of days long. We went to north Kerala (Malappuram, Kozhikode), and visited 4 temples.
First was the temple where the Goddess is at her best, and most powerful – Kadampuzha. This temple has a ritual called “Muttarakkal”, where devotees can offer coconuts, which will then be cracked open on a rock in front of the deity. If everything is alright, the coconut will split into two cleanly. If, for some reason, the coconut does not open right, then one is supposed to keep offering coconuts until one cracks open just right. The temple itself is quite small in size, but the peace of mind one gets is amazing.
Mile after mile of moss-covered walls and different shades of green. Moist, pure air, and beauty everywhere – that is North Kerala – my favourite part of Kerala. After Kadampuzha, we went to the Navamukundan temple, on the river Bharathapuzha. This temple is one of three temples in the area, each temple dedicated to one of the trinity (Vishnu, Brahma and Siva). Offerings to one’s ancestors at this temple are supposed to be very auspicious, so after a dip in the river, I offered my respects to my ancestors, long deceased, and put their souls at rest.
Next, we headed to the Hanuman temple at Aalathiyoor. This is supposedly the place where Lord Rama described Sita, and gave Hanuman his ring to authenticate Hanuman as his messenger, and sent him off to visit Sita in Lanka, where she was being held captive by Ravana. This is supposedly the spot where Hanuman took a huge leap towards Lanka. the speciality of this temple is that Lakshmana, Lord Rama’s brother, has a seperate Sanctum. It seems that Lord Rama asked Lashmana to leave the room when he was describing Sita and giving Hanuman his ring. Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana were inseperable, and so this temple is sort of unique in that they are not together.
The last temple on the list was the Siva temple at Triprangode. The legend behind the temple is that Markandeyan, a very young devotee of Lord Siva, who had his parents to take care of of, was scheduled to die at a very young age. When lord Yama came to take his soul away, Markandeyan approached Lord Vishnu (at the Navamukundan temple), to request him to please save him from death. lord Vishnu had to turn him down, and direct him to request Lord Siva instead. So off Markandeya goes to Lord Siva. He is said to have embraced a Siva Linga at the Triprangode temple, and Lord Siva is said to have killed Yama, the messenger of death, at this spot. There are a total of five Siva lingas at this temple. The first being the linga that Markandeyan embraced, the next three being the steps that Lord Siva took on the way to killing Lord Yama, and the last being the extremely angry Lord Siva, immediately after killing Lord Yama. The saints and other gods had to request Parvati, Siva’s consort to appear naked, except for jewellery to appease and cool Lord Siva down.
This trip was all the more special because the book I am reading right now, Roberto Calasso’s “Ka”, is a book with a lot of stories from Hindu Mythology. Visiting these temples and imagining the things that are supposed to have happened at these places makes one feel very …. special! I have always been the sucker for myths, legends and history.
The other day, I received a comment, which I had to beleive was spam, about how we should all turn to Pagan religions and return closer to nature. I feel lucky to be part of a tradition which still worships the primitive forces, complete with Serpent Kings, trees, rivers and forests. Who am I to say it’s wrong to worship the life-giving Sun, and all of nature. We could all do with some more interaction with nature, on a regular basis.