Monday, August 16, 2010

A glorious religious observance... Nallur Kanthaswamy Kovil..!!!





A glorious religious observance
Nallur Kanthaswamy Kovil:

Sinnathamby Rasiah

The annual festival of historic Nallur Kanthaswamy temple commenced yesterday (August 15) and will continue for twenty five days, with all its splendour.

Since then, the attention of the people is focused on this event and the whole village participate in the preparation for the festivities. Residents of the area decorate their homes and streets with mango leaves, coconut strips, flowers and plantain trees.

Crowds thronged at the Nallur Kovil on the opening day of the festival on August 15, 2010. Picture Courtesy The Hindu, Chennai

Kolam designs associated with the deity of God Skanda are artificially sketched in front of the house. Mostly kumbams are kept outside the homes. In the neighborhood of the temple, pandals are erected to accommodate devotees who come from far off places. As normalcy is prevailing in the country more expatriates are expected to participate in the festival. What God Kataragama is for the southerners, Nallur Kanthaswamy Kovil is for the northerners.

Nallur and Kataragama are two of the few temples in the country, where people participate irrespective of their faith. Besides, Nallur temple is famous for the meticulous manner in which poojas are performed at the stipulated times.

Inauguration of Festival
The annual festival of Nallur of Lord Skanda commenced with the auspicious flag hoisting ceremony yesterday at 10 a.m. Amid ringing bells, Confetti of flowers and mantras recited by Brahmin priests clad in red. Among the twenty five festivals that take place, the most spectacular ones are the 10th festival called Manjam cart festival, 20th one is called Kailayavahanam. The three deities namely Lord Skanda escorted by two consorts Theivayanai and Valli ascent the Kailayavahanam which depicts the ten headed Ravana lifting mount Kailash.

The other important festival is Sapparam on the 23d day.

The festival reaches its climax with the Ther or chariot on which the majestic Lord Skanda along with his elegant consorts, draped in vibrant green ascends and it is drawn by devotees round the outer countryard of the temple. Many devotees carry, kavadi, which is beautifully arch shaped and studded with peacock feathers and the devotees dance to the rhythum of the music. The kavadi, carries two small milk pots to be offered in the worship.

Mayuri Amman in Havelock Town where the festival is now on.

The Paravai kavadi which is fitted to carrier and very ardent devotees piers their back with small spears and hooks and horizontally hangs on it, as the carrier moves forward. It is an act of penance and also a way of fulfilling their vows.

Historical Account
In fact the history of Nallur Kandaswamy temple is intertwined with the history of (yaalpaanam) Jaffna.

It is no exaggeration to say that the rise and fall of the temple was subject to the change of rulers. Shanmuga priya, in her book in Nallur Kandaswamy – a spiritual experience says as follows,” historians assert that there is historical evidence to assume that the temple was built in A.D. 1248 in Kurukkal Valavu in Nallur. The present temple is situated in the same location. They further state that the temple must have been built by Buvanekabahu, the minister to king Arya Chakravarthi.”

With the passage of time Parakramabahu VI who ruled the souh from Kotte had an eye on the Jaffna kingdom.

He dispatched a huge army under his adopted son and general Sempakapperumal Kumaraya who captured Jaffna and in the course of the invasion Nallur Kandaswamy temple was razed to the ground.

Selva Sannithy Temple in the North. The festival in now on.

Later on he tried to appease the offended people and built the second Kandaswamy temple around 1467 in an adjacent place.

Meanwhile in the book - Hindu temples of Sri Lanka, Prof S. Pathmanathan states that the temple built by Buvanekabahu continued to flourish even after he had lost authority over Jaffna and the Tamil kings who were restored to power by this time extended royal support to the temple.

Henceforth the glory of the temple began to wane with the arrival of foreign powers – first the Portuguese, then the Dutch and the British. In 1620, the Portuguese invaded Jaffna and the Nallur temple was completely destroyed.

Thereafter according to C. S. Navaratnam in a Short History of Hinduism in Ceylon, for nearly 170 years there was no temple for the Tamils to worship in that locality. In 1658 the Dutch captured Jaffna from the Portuguese.

Unlike the Portuguese the Dutch became liberal in later years. The Hindus around Nallur made use of this opportunity and constructed a small Madalaya style in the same location as the second Nallur temple without a Gopuram. A vale was consecrated and worshiped.

In 1734 Ragunatha Mappana Mudaliyar was able to get the permission from the Dutch rulers and built the Nallur Kandaswamy temple in its original place in Kurukkal Valavu - Since then the temple was developed and today it outshines it past glory.


Nallur in festive mood
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

With the hoisting of the flag yesterday (Aug 15) the much anticipated annual festival of the Nallur Kanthasamy temple has begun. Until September 07, a religious and festive mood will reign in the North of Lanka.

The temple in Nallur is ancient and is of historical importance. The Chariot festival will be held on the last day of the 23-day festival.

In view of the large crowd of devotees at the festival the management of the temple, the government agent and the mayor have made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the convenience of devotees.

Devotees from all over Sri Lanka are participating at the festival to receive the Divine Blessings of Lord Murukan.

In fact, the people of Jaffna are extremely happy particularly after the end of war which prevailed for the last three decades and the maintenance of peace which everyone was looking for.

Further, the people are enjoying normal life after a lapse of several years.

The people move about freely and attend to their household affairs. The people in the surrounding areas of the temple have erected temporary sheds in view of this festival.

Even the Mayor of Jaffna Municipal Council has laid down certain rules and regulating how the devotees should conduct themselves during the temple festival and also how the devotees should enter the temple precincts wearing nesty avoiding trousers and shirts.

All are expected to maintain Hindu traditions and agamic principles which are of paramount importance.

Nallur was the celebrated capital city of Ancient Jaffna. The chronicle of Jaffna history the “Yalpana Vaibava Malai describes in detail how the city of Nallur was founded. It mentions how “Singai Ariyan” arrived at the request of “Pandi Maluvam” accompanied by priests and advisers and assumed the kingship of Jaffna. He built a city for his residence and named it Nallur.

Thus was founded the celebrated city of Nallur by Singai Ariyan, also referred to as “Kulankai”, who commenced his reign as the first Ariya Chakravarty King of Jaffna.

The Singai Ariya dynasty continued to rule as Ariya Chakaravarty kings of Jaffna, assuming alternately the state titles of Pararajasekaram and Sagarajasekaram. They safeguarded the Hindu temples building more in the kingdom and maintaining those already erected. They up held the Hindu tradition.

The Jaffna chronicle also records that during the reign of Singai Ariyan, Minister Bhuvaneka Bahu completed the erection of the outside walls of the city and the Kandaswamy kovil. That a Kandaswamy temple got erected within the city of Nallur, during the reign of Singai Ariyan thus explicitly recorded and the credit for this Thiruppany” work goes to the king’s Minister Bhuvenaka Bahu. The time would have been soon after the year 1284 A.D.

Furthermore, the Portuguese who invaded Jaffna with their forces demolished this temple to the ground level in the year 1621. Subsequently the Dutch who found a Catholic Church there, demolished it and erected a church of their faith which is the Nallur Church in close proximity to the “Yamuneri Theertham”.

After the rule of dutch in the year B.C. 1658, this temple came under the management to the Hindus. In 1734, this temple was rebuilt.

The present Nallur Kandaswamy temple was originated in the year 1749 by “Ragunatha Mappana Mudaliyar.

The origin of Murukan and the story of his veneration are of very ancient interest. The story is fundamental in the history of development of Tamil Culture. He become identified as Kumaran: Even the pre-Aryan pre-historic eras are known to have revered a rudimentary form of Murukan, a youth of valorous deeds who was victorious in war.

The Devas, when they proceeded to Moun Kailas to complain to Lord Siva of their persecution by the Asuras, found him in deep meditation. On being awakened, a Divine spark emanated from his frontal third eye. This was received in Lake “Saravanai Poika”. There it was nurtured by six “Karthikai” young girls and they became six infants and were embraced by Divine mother Goddess Parvathy.

Lord Muruka as a valorous youth is said to have performed several brave deeds including the imprisonment of Brahma and imparting the meaning of the sacred word Aum to Lord Shiva.

Further, when the Devar were imprisoned by Asuras Lord Muruka sent his Army Commander “Virapahu” and when Surapadman refused to lay down his arms and release the Devas, Lord Muruka fought with Surapadman and defeated him, but was not slain but accepted to serve Lord Muruka as his stud in the form of a peacock and also given a place in his banner as a rooster cock. The Devas were released and they celebrated the victory.

Indira the king of the Devas and Indrani his Queen rewarded Murukan by giving him their daughter “Deiva Yanai” or “Deivanai” in marriage.

The grand nuptial celebrations are claimed to have taken place at “Thiru Perum Kanram” situated in Madurai, Muruka’s second consort is Valli, the Veddah maid from the Vallimalai hills.

Furthermore, the vale in his hand denotes knowledge. According to this a man’s knowledge should be sharp, it should not only be sharp, but it should be evidenced and be deep.

In a philosophical interpretation the two consorts of Lord Muruka are considered to represent “Kiriya” Sakthi and “Ichcha”. Sakthi and Muruka represents “Gnana” Sakthi.

During the Nallur Ther or Chariot festival the statue of God Kandaswamy is decorated and illuminated and paraded along the streets in a chariot followed by poojas, Bhajan and Archana offered by devotees.

The large and heavy chariot is pulled by a rope by thousands of devotees where the rich and the poor grand shoulder to shoulder in pulling the body politics of the Divine State, giving the Lord a chance to witness the peaceful progress that the community has made, Clustering around the temple where the God resides.

Even Sri Lanka Sri Arumuga Navalar, who started the Saivism Revival movement launched it from Nallur temple.

Further, Kadaiyit Swamigal Chellappaswamigal and Yogar Swamigal attained enlightenment at the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple.

In fact, to a society lost in error and beset by illusions of time and weighed down by perplexities trials and tribulations, conflicts and contradictions, the Divine power of God Muruka will protect us from all evil tendencies and make us to lead a peaceful and harmonious life.

A special Hindu religious program titled ‘Pithur Dharpanam’ took place under the patronage of Sivashri Bala Ravishanuarak Kurukkal at the Modera estuary Colombo on August 9, 2010. The event was organized by the Hindu Mantram, Crow Island, Mattakkuliya. A large number of devotees participated. Picture: A. Maduraveeran

The annual festival of the Iyyappa Swamy Kovil, Aluthmawatte, Modera, Colombo 15, was held on July 1, 2010. Here the Swamigal is being taken in procession by the devotees around the streets. Pic: A. Maduraveeran

Nawalapitiya Kathiresan temple festival