Sunday, March 20, 2011

Temple Tales


A Rare Idol of Lord Vinayaka at Keralapuram: Keralapuram near Nagarcoil in Tamil Nadu is famous for its Vinayaka Temple situated under a peepul tree. The peculiar feature of the idol in the temple is that it is black in colour during six months of the year and turns white during the rest of the year. When it turns white, the marble-like white stone dazzles brilliantly. Apart from this, there is one more specialty. One leg of the idol is broken and there is an interesting local legend behind it:
It is said that one particular priest of the temple would visit a house of ill-fame at night. An old man tried to dissuade the priest to stop this bad habit, particularly he being a priest, but the priest would not listen to him. One day the old man knocked at the door of the house where the priest was enjoying the company of his lady-love. The priest pushed him aside and the old man broke his leg. Next morning when the priest went to the temple and opened the door, he was aghast to see that one leg of the Vinayaka idol was broken. The priest realized that the Lord Vinayaka himself must have come as an old man in disguise. Thereafter he changed his ways and atoned for his sins.
According to the records of the Travancore Archaeological Department, the earliest stone inscriptions of the temple go back to 1317 A.D.

Annapoorneshwari Temple in Kerala: There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Annapoorneshwari at Cherukunnan in Kerala. Every devotee who worships at the temple is served with free food. The tradition of the temple is that in the night, after every one is fed, the priest ties a packet of food to the branch of the temple tree before he locks the temple. The idea behind this practice is that even a thief who prowls about should not go without food.

The only temple for Bharatha in the country is in Kerala: The Koodalamanickyam Temple in Kerala is perhaps the only shrine in India devoted to Bharatha, the idol of brotherly love. It is situated about 8 kms from Irinjilikunda on Trichur-Ernakulam Road.
According to the legend, a local chieftain, Vakkey Kaimal, one night dreamt of some mysterious persons appearing before him and telling him that four icons had been washed on to the beach nearby and that each one of them was to be consecrated at the allotted places. Kaimal, an ardent devotee and a Sri Ramabhakta, hastening to the sea shore early next morning found the icons. The idols found were those of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrughna. They were duly installed at the places specified and as directed in the dream: Sri Rama at Triprayar near Guruvayoor, Bharatha at Koodalamanickyam, Lakshmana at Mozhikulam and Shtrughna at Payammal, all places close to each other.
The Bharatha Temple has some special features. There is only the idol of Bharatha and there are no other Upa-Devathas or subsidiary deities. The flower offerings consist of only Tulasi and lotuses. No other flower is used for worship. The temple tank has plenty of fish which are considered sacred and the water of the tank has curative powers. One unusual feature of the temple is that the vegetable Brinjals are offered as Naivedyam to the deity. It has been the experience of many devotees that brinjals offered as naivedyam and then eaten have cured their stomach ailments. It is believed that Lord Hanuman resides in the temple kitchen even now. This belief has gained currency due to the fact that even huge vessels in which the Naivedyam is prepared can be lifted by one single person, since Hanuman provides the additional strength to lift the vessel.

Dosa as Prasadam : The Azhagar Koil is a temple in Madurai District. In this temple, the Dosa is offered as prasadam to the devotees. The Dosas here are specially known for their size and thickness. During his student days in Madurai, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was fond of these Dosas and used to mention the special characteristics of the Dosa, particularly its size and thickness.

Special Temple for Fishermen: The Urva Mariyamma Temple at Boloor, Mangalore, is a special place of worship for the fisherman community. This is a 12th Century Temple in the shape of a fish. Fishermen from the Kasargod District in Kerala, South Canara and North Canara are particularly devoted to this temple and offer special prayers, particularly when there is a poor fish catch. During the annual fair of the temple, offerings are given in the form of golden ornaments conforming to the shape of a fish.

Sri Anantapadmanabha Temple at Kasargod: In a place called Ananthapuram in Kasargod District there is a temple dedicated to Lord Padmanabha. The temple has a tank attached to it in which a crocodile always lives. The predecessor of the present crocodile was a much tamed one and affectionately called’ Babiya’. It was so close to people that it would crawl upon the shore whenever people called it by name. It was shot dead a few years back by a British soldier when some army personnel were camping nearby in 1945 during the British period. Within a few days, a small crocodile spontaneously made presence in the tank—the existing crocodile.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatnam: The consort of Lord Ranganatha is Ranganayaki. A special feature of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is that Devi Ranganayaki is adorned with a special nose-ring on every Friday and there is a legend behind it.
Sometime in the 17th Century a woman devotee of the temple by name Alamelumangamma, a woman with considerable wealth and devotion, used to bring all her personal jewels to the temple every Friday without fail, adorn the Goddess with these jewels with great devotion and take them back and return after the noon pooja was over. One Friday she forgot to take back the nose ornament. On her way back home, an attempt was made to molest her by some miscreant who chased her up to the river Kaveri. When chances of her survival remained bleak, the lady threw all her jewels into the river Kaveri and drowned herself in the river. From that day onwards, the temple authorities have preserved the nose-ring very carefully and adorn the Devi with that nose ring on every Friday as a mark of respect to the departed devotee Alamelumangamma.

B.M.N. Murthy

ARTICLE NO. 410-- Interesting Temple Legends
Created: Friday, September 28, 2007 9:43 PM


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