Koodal Manikyam – Where Two Rubies Merged

Koodal Manikyam Temple – Main Entrance Tower
Koodal Manikyam – Temple

Located in Irinjalakuda (Thrissur Distrcit) of #Kerala, an ancient temple dedicated to Shri Bharatha, brother of Bhagwan Shri Rama. Though I have visited this Devalaya many times before, it was different this time, with specific focus on learning about the Sthala Purana and also to fulfill a personal vow.

Etymology of name – Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwara
According the legend briefed by Melshanti and a representative of the Tantri family (Shri Kaimal) the name of the place Koodalmanikyam is derived from two words, Koodal (meaning merging) and manikyam (ruby) – merging of two rubies. Hence the Deity here is also known as Shri Sangameshwara

Legend has it that one morning, Bhaktas noticed that there was a very birth red light radiating from the Agnya Chakra (forehead) of the Moorthi surprising everyone there. Precious stones during those days were only in the possession of the royals and Bhaktas approached then King of Kayamkulam to request him to bring his Ruby for comparison of this bright light. During this process, the ruby from King’s hand slipped and fell down and merged with the gem stone present on the moorthi and hence the name Koodalmanikyam or Sanghameshwaran. The lore also has it that it again happened during early 1900s. It is also believed that Irinjalakuda got its name as it was confluence or Sangamam of two rivers Chalakudi and Kurumali and hence the Deity is called Sanghameshwaran.

The Pushkarini – Kulipini Theertham

Lord Vishnu is present here eternally in accordance with the boon granted to severe penance carried out by Maharshi Kulpini. The present Kulpini theertham was the homa kundam where the yagnas were performed by the Maharshi and believed to have Holy Ganga, Yamuna and SaraswaTi

There are certain distinctive features about the Koodalmanikyam temple. It is the only ancient temple (dates back to 9 century) dedicated to Bharata (Rama’s younger brother) in the whole of India. Even today, it is believed that Hanuman lives in the temple kitchen. Brinjal naivedyam is another important offering made to Bharata. It is considered to be a prime medicine to cure stomach ailments.

Devotees pray here to prevent raining on any special celebration day in the family like marriages or other such functions. We visited here to fulfill our vow having prayed for a rainless day on our daughter’s wedding (during peak rainy season in Bengaluru)

Only three flowers are offered to the Deity here – Lotus, Tulsi and Chethi (Ixora) Unlike other temples of Kerala, only 3 poojas are performed (as against 5) and 3 Seevelis (ceremonial procession of the Moorthi on caprisoned elephants)

Mind Scavenging for Sitaram Yechury

By Sujnan Nayak

On Twitter @SujnanNayak

(Edited only for Hyperlinking and formatting – Else retained verbatim)

It has become a fashion nowadays to criticize Gujarat & “Only GUJARAT” to get in the limelight. It is just like a cheap publicity stunts played by heroines of our film industry when their stars are fading and Sitaram Yechury is no different. Now that the puerile debate of Temple vs Toilets is in vague Mr Sitaram wrote another op-ed taking about “Dirt” in Gujarat Development Model. You can read that here

Sitaram’s obsession & hate for RSS/BJP is visible from the fact that couple of more recent articles start with “The RSS/BJP ….

1) “The RSS/BJP had perfected the art of double speak” here

2) “The RSS/BJP is already sounding the victory bugle” here

Mr Sitaram usually start with RSS/BJP and ends with communalism or Narendra Modi and it doesn’t matter whether he is talking about Economic Policies, Social issues or Foreign policy he has his fixed agenda of bashing BJP/RSS as if there are less people on TV channels to do this job.

So like Mr Sitaram I won’t go round in circle and come straight to the point. In the article “The dirt on Gujarat development model”

Mr Sitaram talks about manual scavenging in Gujarat apart from the usual rhetoric and compares it with Kerala. (A Model based on foreign remittances) He says “In a recent survey, a community-based organisation fighting for the rights of the scavenging community, Manav Garima, found that there are 126 spots where manual scavenging is practised under the aegis of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.”

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So Mr Yechury here are some of the statistics that may help you understand better about your “Development Model” in West Bengal which your party ruled for more than three decades and Kerala.

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According to the report   Manual Scavengers: Welfare and Rehabilitation No. 18 /RN/Ref./August /2013

West Bengal has 1,30,330, Kerala 3011 & Gujarat has 2566 manually serviced insanitary latrines. WOW!! How come a state ruled by progressive, socialist & secular party (CPM) for so long have such social indicators? May be toilets aren’t that secular to be taken care of.

Here’s another

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By the talks of Mr Yechury Manual Scavenging must be only existing in books in West Bengal & Kerala but here are the facts

In West Bengal there are 6465 households where manual scavenging is done whereas it’s 1119 in Gujarat & 843 in Kerala not far behind.  Uttar Pradesh tops with 100634.

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Hope these statistics are enough to prove to the reader who is the hypocrite.

Finally, Mr Sitaram your obsession can be understood by the fact that your political ground is shrinking day by day but attacking BJP/RSS without a valid point will not help.

Manual Scavenging is a black spot on India’s society which needs to be eradicated. Even after passing of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 we still see manual scavengers in our cities and rural areas. Manual Scavenging is against the people’s right of dignity of life but we have long turned a blind eye towards these people who make a living out of someone else dirt. Hope we see a real change in India rather than empty promises which are served as sanjeevani during elections.

Manual Scavenging should be prohibited from India forever and not only from Gujarat. As far as people who blindly support or hate Narendra Modi are advised to look at the statistics and ask questions to the rulers and bring about a real social change.

Onam Message – Celebrate Act not the Actor

Onam 2013 has turned out to be significantly different compared to the earlier ones that I have celebrated with friends and families in the past. A new insight as I was discussing with a lot of my friends who have contributed to my understanding of the festivities and rituals. A personal thanks.

Upfront a personal note

This may not be the traditional belief, but purely my take and hence pardon my ignorance in case of conflicts with my understanding – a word on what caused it would be highly appreciated.

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Our Chennai Days – With Sri Sukumaran and Family

While discussing with those who celebrate Thiruvonam (or simply Onam as it is popularly known) in a traditional way I could not help be awestruck realizing of the deeper significance of this Harvest Festival and the legend behind it.

Onam is celebrated over 10 days starting Attham (Hasta) Nakshatra in the month of Chingam (Solar Calendar followed in Kerala) and ends on Thiruvonam (Shravana) Nakshatra  (the 10th day) . It is also celebrated by some in the Coastal Karnataka with equal gaiety and pomp.

Mahabali was the King of Asuras, grandson of Prahlada, who despite being born as an asura was known as paragon of devotion to Lord Vishnu. Mahabali was brought up under the tutelage and guidance of Prahlada from whom he imbibed the qualities of devotion and governance.

Mahabali Visits Art of Living Ashram :-) Panchakarma Centre
Mahabali Visits Art of Living Ashram 🙂 Panchakarma Centre

During Mahabali’s reign, the kingdom never saw poverty, crime or any societal ills and hence revered by his subjects. But Asura that he was, was not considered trustworthy and his ambition made him expand his kingdom and becomes Ruler of all the 3 worlds – an Asura ruler was against the laws of nature. Devas approach Lord Vishnu for a solution and when Mahabali was performing Ashwameda Yaga, Lord Vishnu appears in the form of a small brahmin boy (Vamana Avatara) and seeks to fulfill his desire as promised by the King during the Yaga. Upon which the righteous Mahabali offers to fulfill any demand that was placed by the boy who demands land covered by 3 steps.  Despite warnings from his Guru who foresaw disaster and had a vision that it indeed was Lord Vishnu who appeared in this form to deprive Mahabali of all his belongings. But Mahabali who valued Maana (Honor) even at the cost of his life told his Guru: “I should be the most fortunate one as the Lord, who gives everything to mankind, is seeking something from me.” So saying he offered to donate the Three steps that the brahmin boy sought. Vamana then grew in size so mammoth that one step covered the entire earth, the next the whole of Heaven and there was nothing left to claim for the 3rd step.  Mahabali the man of honor did not hesitate to offer his own head in lieu of land. Vamana steps on his head and sends him to Sutala, the heaven of Patala (the netherworld)

Lord Vishnu also appoints him as the King of Netherworld and also position of Indra for one Manvantara. Mahabali who loved his subjects very dearly also seeks Lord Vishnu to allow him to visit them once every year. And it is this visit that is celebrated as Onam.

The festivities includes ceremonial welcome of Mahabali on the first day. Clay idols painted red (called Trikkakarappan) to which all the harvests are offered first thanking him for the Gift of abundance showered.

Trikkakarappan-Representing Vamana (Mahabali too)
Trikkakarappan-Representing Vamana (Mahabali too)

Maveli nadu vaneedum kalam,
manusharellarum onnupole
amodhathode vasikkum kalam
apathangarkkumottillathanum

(When Maveli ruled the land, All the people were equal. And people were joyful and merry; They were all free from harm.).  On the last day of Onam (Thiruvonam), the clay idols are immersed in sea/river with a prayer to Mahabali to return next year.

An essential part of the fesitiviy is laying out of the now famous & renowned flower rangoli called Pookalam. Some pictures below, the way we celebrated with friends

In Nasik - With Mr. Thomas (yes, it "was" secular)
In Nasik – With Mr. Thomas (yes, it “was” secular)

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In Chennai – With Sri Sukumaran & Family

Traditionally each day the Pookalam gets bigger and the 10th day was the grandest one.  And this in itself was an enjoyable ritual for children, thanks to friends who celebrated it traditionally.

And then business part (for me) of any festival the famous, Onam Sadhya (Onam Feast)

Enjoying the Feast - With Sri Sukumaran
Enjoying the Feast – With Sri Sukumaran

Feast Next Year - With Sri Sukumaran & family in Chennai
Feast Next Year – With Sri Sukumaran & family in Chennai

The Sadhya... More items to come.
The Sadhya… More items to come This are just the sidies 😉

Other associated rituals and fesitivities include Pulikali (Tiger Dance), Thiruvathirakali (Women dancing in honor of Lord Shiva), Kummattikali

Now that the fun part is done, for some deeper significance (May not be politically or even religiously correct but this is what the festivaal held out as learnings for me)

This festival is the best example of Sanatana Dharma tradition – Even an Asura who is a true Bhakta (devotee) is venerated – Goes to show that it is not the “Who” that matters but the “What”. Being an Asura did not preclude him from being worshipped, his virtues were recognized and aspired for. Which by extension also means there is no concept of Sinners – only people who commit acts of sin. Love or hate the “Act” not the “Actor” It is a value that I alway cherished & forms part of my introduction in the “About” page

Secularism was an essential part of our Festivals. It was all about revering and honoring the nature. Even the Mahabali song (in red above) indicates the Secular character. Bharateeya Sanskriti never talks in terms of  “Tolerance” but in terms of “Acceptance” (A bane these days? I tend to think so). I celebrated Onam with Mr. Thomas and family in 1993 while living in Nasik. Not sure if the radicalized society that the state has become, still allows him such niceties

Idols made of clay (I was told it is traditionally made from the soil for the fields that sustains their livelihood) is honoring the land that gives us everything and the immersion of the clay idol finally is to signify whatever we take has to be restored back to nature.

WISHING EVERYONE A VERY HAPPY ONAM

PS: In the Mahabali picture is Sri Praseed an ashramite and an ardent follower of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of The Art of Living