Monday 28 January 2013

The deity which is abused by devotees

People approach temples with a great deal of faith and devotion. So much so that any transgression leads to a war of words. Sometimes these exchanges have even lead to clashes and loss of life and property.
Whatever the religion or whichever the place of worship, devotees bow to the deity and seek its blessings with utmost respect. In Hindu temples, the priests chant Sanskrit mantas and seek to propriate the deity on behalf of a devotee.
On his part, a devotee comes to the temple with the hope that the deity will grant ho a boon to fulfill his wishes. Even the most hardened criminal will address God with a great deal of respect and humility.
But what would you have to say  if I tell you that there is a temple in India where its devotees go around its structure hurling abuses at the deity and calling it names. Unbelievable but true.
This is the Kodungalloor Bhagawathy Temple of  Kerala.
The main idol here is six-foot high wooden image of Kurumba Bhagavathy. There is also a shrine dedicated to Kshethrapalan (temple guardian) and Masoori Goddess.
The temple permits only Hindus top enter. The devotees do not hurl abuses at the deity all the time. It is only during the  Malayalam month of  Meenam or during April-May when this unique spectacle takes place, The abuses can get so profane that people living around the temple prefer to close the doors and windows of the houses so that they cannot hear the words.
During Meenam, the Bharani day is celebrated with this spirit of abuses. A large number of  velichappadu or oracles- people who can forecast-gather at the temple premises.
These velichappadus drive themselves into a frenzy and then begin uttering profanities at the deity.  Most of the abuses are in the form of ribald songs with double meaning lyrics.
Thousands of devotees who gather around these velichappadus do not get angry or annoyed at this feat. Sometimes, the crowd eggs on these people to become more frensized.
These songs continue when the velichappadus take out a procession. Over the years, these songs have become a staple diet of the festival and they have been given a name called Bharani Pattu.
Sometimes the Bharani pattu gets so obscene that people prefer to stay indoors and lock the doors and windows to escape hearing the profanity.
Next comes another peculiar ritual. It is called Kavu Theendal port the pollution ceremony. This is also an important part of Kodungallur Bharani.
A large number of devotees who have gathered at the temple , including the vellichappads (oracles),  gather around the temple. They then begin the ritual of  waving hurling swords and sabers in the air, while others strike the bean of the temple roof with sticks and hurl objects, including cock, on to the inner quadrangle.
They use abusive words to Goddess while this ritual continues. A local legend says the Goddess accepts the abuses offered to her by her devotees.
Later, the  devotees bring offerings including turmeric powder, kumkum, pepper and cock. The velichappads and their followers then go around the temple thrice and then fall at the feet of the  king of the area seeking his blessing.
The next day is also important as the deity a purification ritual is undertaken.  
It is believed to have been constructed during the reign of  Chera King, Cheran Senkuttuvan. Apart from the Bharani, it is also well-known for the Thalappoli festival.
Devotees are expected to carry pepper and turmeric powder as one of the offerings to the deity. Traditionally, the temple has been associated with animal sacrifices.
The temple was built to honor the martyrdom of Kannakis during the Sangam age. Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of  Vishnu, built the temple for the welfare of devotees.
The temple is Thrissur district  and it is 29 km north west of  Kochi and 38 km south west of  Thrissur. The nearest railway station. Irinjalakuda, is 20 kilometers away and the nearest airport is Cochin which is 30 kilometers away.

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