Kanta Shasti Vratam - for a cleaner interior
Kanta Shasti vratam is observed once a year in the month of `Aippasi’
(October-November) starting from the `piratamai’ the 1st phase of the
brightening moon. Of all Kanta temples it is the one in Tirunchendur in
Tamil Nadu, India that draws the largest number of Kanta devotees.
All roads, at the time of the Vratam, seem to lead to Tirunchendur.
Beside the temple by the sea there appears to be a sea of heads. The
Kantan’s Tiruvilaiyaadal (divine sport) Soora Samharam is enacted during
the sixth day of the festival.
This is a drama to grant a great boon to Curapatman by Kantan.
Curapatman is given the honour of becoming Kantan’s vehicle mayil
vahanam (peacock vehicle) and ceval kodi (the rooster on Kantan’s flag).
During the six days of Kanta Shasti, devotees, usually fast. They
fast in many different forms: some devotees take only one meal a day and
that single meal is the evening meal; to some that single meal consist
of fruit and milk; others forego all solid foods, even abstain from
taking medication take only a liquid diet; some even forego the liquid
Of the above forms taking milk would defeat the purpose of clearing
long stored fat. Not taking any liquids could be harmful, as many
unwanted matters tend to remain in the body.
The ideal form of fast would be that during all six days and nights
to abstain from all solid food and even medicine but take water, coconut
water, strained orange juice and or such permissible liquids. These
liquids help to flush out unwanted substances and to clean the body.
At the end of the six-day fast the body is indeed cleaner than it was
before. The mind is cleansed by the pilgrimage, meditation, worship and
other devotional activities. A pure mind in a pure body is a sublime
combination and conducive to realizing the Divine. This is the reward
and benefit of Kanta Shasti Vratam. During the period of Kanta Shasti
Vratam many devotees recite Kanta Shasti Kavasam.
These are verses asking Kanta for protection. In verse after verse,
numerous parts of the body are mentioned as requiring protection, but
many more parts, and, it must be mentioned, vital parts are left
It has been said, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you”. God always
grants you what you ardently desire, so it might be prudent to ask for
protection and leave it at that, and Kanda will protect your whole self.
Moreover, in reciting Kanta Shasti Kavasam the devotees ask for the
torture and destruction of kaala tootar. Such infliction or
annihilation, if carried out according to your instructions and request,
would detract from your current account of merit.
Did not some of your wishes, or rather curses, take such forms
as:”Kattu kattu kataridak kattu (tie them up, tie them up even as they
scream) Katti uruttu kaal kai muriya (having tied them up roll them
about so that their legs and arms break) Kuththu kuththu koor vadi velal
(prick them, prick them with your sharp and resplendent spear)In another
instance by reciting the Kanta Shasti Kavasam you are asking for the
diffusion of the “manaiyil putaitta vancanai”, evil crafts buried in the
home compound. At times of distress, many are inclined to believe that
evil forces have been set upon them by enemies.
Some fear that the cause of all the distress, disunion, misery they
are experiencing are due to their enemies having evil crafts buried in
home compounds. Surely such things cannot be lying buried in all home
compounds of all those who recite the Kanta Shasti Kavasam.
In this instance as “Ask, and it shall be given unto you” God has to
grant your wish. But how could He help to diffuse a buried evil craft
when such a thing is not buried.
However He is obliged to grant your wish. Prerequisite to fulfill
your wish is initially an enemy who will have to bury the evil crafts in
the home compound. Only then the evil crafts could be diffused. Imagine
Tiruchendur - Sthala Puranam
One of the six places of worship dedicated to Lord Muruga, the shore
temple of Arulmigu Subramanya Swami at Tiruchendur has a unique
significance as the culmination of the concept of Muruga. With its lofty
tower of about 140 feet, it has a holy past dating back to 2,000 years,
if not earlier. References are available in such texts as Purananuru,
Silappadikaram, Tirumurugatrupadai, Adi Sankarar Sri Subramanya
Bhujangam, Kanda Puranam, Tiruppukazh, Tiruchendur Pillai Tamil, etc.
Soorapadma was a very powerful Asura who was causing immense
hardships to Devas and mankind alike by his wicked deeds. The Devas
appealed to Lord Shiva to spare them from the tortures of Soorapadma.
Lord Shiva generated six powerful sparks from His third eye called
Netrikkan. Lord Vayu (god of air) and Lord Agni (god of fire) carried
these sparks to river Ganges. Goddess Ganga carried them to Saravana
Poygai, a holy pond. The sparks became six divine small male babies. By
God’s grace, six divine water nymphs (the six Krittikas) nurtured these
With the blessings of His divine parents, Lord Murugan came to
Tiruchendur with His armed group. He immediately sent Veerabahu as an
emissary to Soorapadma and asked him to release all the Devas imprisoned
by him. But the Asura refused. So Lord Murugan had no option but to wage
war against Soorapadma and his legions.
It lasted for ten days. Lord Murugan defeated Soorapadma and yet
before his death he tearfully prayed for pardon. Moved as he was,
Shanmuga showed his cosmic form and accepted to make use of his peacock
form as his permanent vehicle, and the cock to adorn his banner. Since
then, though dead, Surapadman has been serving the Lord thus, with
devotion unparalleled and obedience inimitable.
According to tradition, after the final battle on the beach at
Tiruchendur, Lord Murugan felt remorse for His role in slaughtering
Surapadma’s demonic army. He therefore built a shrine nearby to His
Father Lord Siva and worshipped Him there.
Technically, therefore, the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. Yet the
mulasthanam deity is Lord Senthil Andavar Himself standing in a majestic
and relaxed pose facing east towards the sea, alone and without His
consorts Valli and Devasena.
Sri Adi Shankara wrote powerful mantra Subramanya Bhujangam. When Adi
Shankara visited the shore temple of Lord Subramanya at Thiruchendur, he
fell into a trance and the entire stanzas flowed from him.
It is said that the Lord was so pleased with the mantras, words of
devotion that came from Adi Shankara, that Lord Subramanya appeared, as
stated in the mantra, in front of Adi Shankara. Devotees reciting this
mantra will be rid of debts, sufferings and disease. Whoever recites
this mantra will attain health, wealth, longevity, wisdom and heavenly
Lord Murugan blesses everyone who worships Him. He extends Hissupreme
grace to all those who pray before Him. He removes all the ills of
people who come to Him. He never lets down His disciples. Worship Lord
Murugan at Tiruchendur and seek His blessings. He never says NO to
anyone. He will bless you with a peaceful life .Om Saravana Bhavaya
Deepavali - Row of lights
Hindu mythology is unique in the sense that every important episode
in it has a lesson for us to learn. Deepavali or the Festival of lights
is one such. It symbolises the destruction of the forces of darkness and
evil and the re-enthronement of light or God in individual and
The festival of Diwali or Deepavali (row of lights) is of great
It signifies the emergence of the soul from out of the darkness of
Avidya to the light of vidya or awakening. The awaking of knowledge
indicates light being brought into the lives of silently suffering
people immensed in utter misery and gloom.
It is exactly to depict this truth that the Deepavali festival is
celebrated with a row of lights in every Hindu house.
According to the Hindu calendar in the month of October-November
bright and beautiful lamps and candles are lit in Hindu houses like a
garland of lamps offered in dedication to the deities.
This shows the annihilation of sorrow of the people who were
overpowered by the forces of darkness and later inspired with the hopes
and inspiration for better times ahead. Deepavali is associated with the
popular legend of Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasuran who by the
practice of austerities had gained strength to drive the Gods out of the
But Lord Krishna with his divine powers killed him and so saved
mankind. In another instance Lord Krishna was designed to free the world
from the degradation of the Demm King Hiranayaka who forbade the worship
of Lord Vishnu and substituted the worship of himself. But his son
Prahalad refused to give up his worship of Lord Vishnu. Hiranayaka was
enraged and resolve to kill his son whereupon Lord Vishnu appeared in
the form of Narasinha and tare Hiranayaka to pieces.
There is also a belief among some Hindus that this festival day marks
the day of rejoicing when Lord Skanda triumphed over the evil regime of
Further, love and peace are the central theme of Deepavali.
Peace is a by-product of love. Hatred will never cease by halved, but
will cease only by love alone. Indeed, we have the brilliant light of
the Sun and the mellow light of the moon and stars, but in everybody’s
heart and mind a different light burns - the light of knowledge and the
warmth of human love and confession.
The clear beauty of purified wisdom which we carry in our hearts will
undoubtedly strengthen ourselves for sacrifice, service and greatness
and will dispel the gloom of poverty, superstition, darkness of
ignorance and egoistic arrogance.
Indeed, this festival of light (Deepavali) will definitely illuminate
the sullen hearts of many who are weighed down by the forces of darkness
conflicts and contradictions, trials and tribulations. Further, it is
also a festival of freedom, peace, unity and compassion crystallised in
the last hymn on unity in the Indian spiritual text of Rig Veda: - “Let
your aim be me and single and your heart be joined in me, the kind at
rest in unism at peace with all, so you may be”.
Hindu Saints and the Bakthi Cult - 7
Women Saints - Mangaiyarkkarasi
Mangaiyarkkarasi meaning “Queen among women” was a Chola Princess
married to a Pandya King. The main Tamil speaking areas in those days
were ruled by two dynasties. The Chola and the Pandya dynasties. The
Seras on the West coast separated and their kingdom is the Kerala State.
The queen of Madurai was Mangaiyarkkarasi. She was a princess of the
Chola dynasty. Both the Pandya Kingdom and the Chola Kingdom united when
the Chola princess married the Pandya king.
The Pandya ruler and all his subjects had forsaken their religion
Saivaism and embraced Jainism. That did not stop the queen an ardent
Siva devotee to practise Saivaism. The Chief Minister Kulachchiyrayar
was also a devoted Saivaite. Between the two, they preserved Saivaism
amidst the majority of Jains. The Cholas had been only Saivaites.
It is a historical fact that the great Rajaraja Cholan who built the
Tanjore big temple was a patron of Saivaism and was responsible in not
allowing other religious faiths to take root in the Chola country.
The Pandya queen however with the Minister fed the flame of Saivaism
with the oil of devotion and they were quite independent in spite of
being in a hostile nation.
It was at a time like this that the boy saint Thirugnanasambandar was
touring the area singing the praise of God Siva. She thought of bringing
back the Pandya King and the subjects to Saivaism with the help of this
boy saint. The queen and the Minister sent a trusted party to meet him
and invite him to Pandyanadu.
On hearing of the queen’s request Saint Thirugnanasambandar readily
complied with her request to visit Madurai. After a long and tedious
journey he reached Madurai. The queen sent the Minister to meet him and
arrange a good place for his comfortable stay.
It was not proper for women to visit anyone alone. But the queen was
quite free to go to temples. The young saint went to the local temple
and worshipped God Siva and sought his guidance in the mission entrusted
The queen too came to the temple and bowed at his feet and let his
know her joy at his visit. But the queen had her doubts - whether this
young boy could face a formidable force like the Jains who had the king
and the kingdom in their grip.
The boy saint read her mind and sang a song calling her Mani (mother)
wearing a variety of bangles, “Never fear O’Queen”. The Grace of the
Lord residing at Thiralavai, I shall not be beaten by the Jains.
There then followed a debate between the Jains and Saint Sambandar.
Due to the strength, conviction and constant prayer of Queen
Mangaiyarkkarasi, Sambandar vanquished the Jains. The King was laid down
with a severe illness. Both the Jains and Sambandar agreed to cure him.
The King promised to follow the religion of the one who cured him.
The latter could not cure the king of a terrific ailment though they
stroked one side of his body with peacock feathers. Sambandar on the
other hand applied holy ash on the king’s body and sang the Thevarams
praising the power of the holy ash of the Lord at Thirualavai. The king
was completely cured. To the joy of the queen, Pandya king embraced
Saivaism and his subjects followed suit.
Queen Mangalyarkkarasi, by her faith and patience and devotion to
Lord Siva had brought back the Pandya clan to Saivaism.
She is therefore enumerated as a saint by Sekkilar. She was
instrumental in bringing Saivaism back to Pandya Kingdom.
She is a perfect model of Tamil womanhood. She had political
diplomacy, religious freedom and great dedication to Godliness. Apart
from all these she was modest and a dutiful wife.
The Navarathri festival was celebrated
at Kovils, Schools and houses. Poojas were held on all nine
days, with the displaying of statues of deities (Kolu). Here
a Kolu display at the Sri Bala Selva Vinayaga Moorthy Kovil
Captain’s Garden, Maradana, Colombo 10. Pic. A. Maduraveeran
The inauguration ceremony of the
International Hindu Religious Federation was held at Sri
Gnanabairavar Devastanam premises De-Was Lane, Grandpass,
Colombo 14 recently. Here Rev. P. Shanmugaratna Sarma Chief
Priest, Sri Balaselva Vinayagar Moorthy Temple, Maradana,
and Rev. Ravi Shankara Kurukkal of Gnanabairavar Devastanam
lights the oil lamp. Secretary, R. Babu Sarma, Patron, Rev.
S.R. Balakrishna Kurukkal and member Rev. Sivanesa Sarma are
also in the picture. Pic. by A. Maduraveeran
Colombo Royal College Hindu
Association held its ‘Kalai Magal Vila’ at Navarangahala
Hall recently under the aegis of Royal College Principal
Upali Gunasekara. Here the students participating at several
events while the Principal being draped in golden shawl by
P. Nirupan and the Deputy Principal Kanapathipillai
distributing certificates to a student. Picture by Aruna
Ponnampalam - Kotagala group correspondent