The great Vanji .

When we were exploring various  places linked with Kannagi, one day after seeing my eagerness one of  my folklore arts professor called me and gave a cover. There was a big book inside that cover. It was Mr. Indhuchoodan's '' The secret chamber''.

The book is an encyclopedia  about Kannagi. The book narrates the every minute information about Kodungalloor Bahavathy temple dedicated to Kannagi. The book talks in detail about a particular spot inside the temple complex called '' the secret chamber''. The author declares that the secret chamber contains the precious jewels, costumes and body remains of Kannagi. The book has to be read with lot of patience.

When I read this within a night and narrated every thing to Pradheep, it was Onam festival in Kerala. So Pradheep planned to leave earlier to Kodungalloor . I left 2 days later and when landed in Kodungalloor, I felt that I have reached moon.

The research mind has made my eyes to see every spot in and around Kodungalloor with divinity and respect. Before 2000 years the 3 great south Indian dynasties Chera - Chola and Pandiyas have made the nation as a great civilization in this world. Thrir capital cities were Vanji - Poompuhar and Madurai. Out of this Poompuhar has washed away by the sea. Only Madurai is existing with its old pride. Vanji the modern Kondungalloor  is also still living with lot of legends burried in books and palm leaves . The ancient Tamil Chera country has evolved as melodious Malayalam language Kerala Bhoomi after 15th century.

The modern Malayalam has the richest  literary back ground from early Christian centuries . Malayalam language is the melodious girl  born to Tamil and Sanskrith languages. The ancient Tamil language of Cheras has produced  Silappathikaaram literature. The author Elango adikal and his brother Chera Chenguttuvan has lived in Kodungalloor.

Ottrai mulaichi amman:

The poet has recorded all the important areas of Vanji city. He has mentioned about the most sacred Shiva temple '' Thiru vanji kalam''. We had a visit to this temple. On the way we saw the small temple dedicated for Kannagi . There is small idol with only one breast . The idol is named and celebrated as '' Ottrai mulachi amman''. , meaning '' the goddess with one breast''. Kannagi tore her right side breast out of ferocious anger and threw on the streets of Madurai and cursed the city to get burnt. The name of the idol itself highlights the importance given to Kannagi by Chera kings.

The secret most spot:

Than all these my interest was to see the secret chamber. It is a very small granite slab closed chamber within the Kodungalloor sanctum . The chamber can be seen only from outside. There is a very small door , but always closed. There is a colorful dress  hanging at the door step. Rituals are done mainly to this area where a metal symbol to denote Goddess is placed. It is called as ''artha meru'' which depicts the geometrical dimensions of Goddess . To the left we can see the life size wooden idol of the Mahakali -- Sree Kodungalloor amma alas Kannagi.

Kannagi as Mahakali:

The greatest heroic deed happened in Madurai city became very famous all over Tamil countries. The king of Madurai was one of the most powerful ruler. He has conquered 7 great kings as a one man army show in a battle. He was well known for his pride and honesty. When Kannagi killed him she became the incarnation of Durga [ Goddess of destroying all evils]. So Chera has installed her as Kali form.

The idol is made of jack tree wood. Kannagi processes 8 arms. Let us see to her right side from the top. She holds a cobra, anklet, bell and skull . From the top left she holds a trident, palm leaf manuscript which depicts her life Silapathikaaram. Then she also holds the slayed head of king Pandiya Nedum chelian. There are so many versions about this idol. She also holds a long huge sword. Her left leg is hanging and right leg is folded and resting on an altar. The face is very very smashy, no expression because of oil smearing.

But the entire idol of Kannagi is decked with pure golden jewels and shields. The face is covered with a smiling golden mask with broad eyes, and tall crown. Her ears bears the head of a lion and an elephant to show her power.

The entire breast is covered with various jewels and chains. They all belong to Kannagi. After her death her parents have offered them to the idol. The waist is decorated with long  saree. Very often people offer her dress, lamps, garlands, swords and anklets.

Just  to her front we can see one more arthameru. There are many lamps. Six pure golden lamps are also there. There is a Shiva shrine next to her. There is small hall adjacent to her shrine where the 7 goddesses who helped Kali for her army get seated.

More than this there is nothing special inside the complex. But our mind has infinite imaginations and legends and emotional feelings about the great woman .

Shetrabalar:

Out side of the temple we can see a small shrine inside which there is a gigantic stone idol of a guard called '' shetrabala''......meaning local guard of the city. There is a belief that this idol was brought from Poompuhar city by Chera kings. This idol was known as '' Sathuka bootham''. This is demi god which was in Poompuhar. The god will tie and pull people who talk lies and go beyond honesty.

Very ancient idol of Kannagi:

Lets us take a round the temple. One of the most important spot is the Vaisoori devi ... goddess of small pox. The shrine is very small, opened at the top. There is a stone idol of Goddess without one breats and the face is smashed because of time. The head holds locks of hair spreaded all over her shoulder. She has 2 hands. They are just placed on the laps. People get turmeric powder and just trew on her along with pepper.

I can just relate this idol with the original the  stone idol  carved by Chera and got installed in Kambham valley. This may be the very ancient idol got worshipped by citizens of Kondungalloor. So one can just get seated under the big trees and go back to the ages when great historical events happened after Kannagi's death. Let us go to Thirukanna mathil akam.

Thirukanna mathil akam :

This is very near to Kodungalloor. This is the place where Elango adikal stayed and lived as a Jain monk and did his great epic. Today it is a small busy town in Kerala. Elango adikal has mentioned the place as '' Guna vaa il kottam'' meaning , '' the place to the west of Vanji city''. Pradheep's sister resides here. She is very much gifted to live in a such historical place .

So after going all around these places we both rested in his uncles home. Suddenly Pradheep came near me and whispered. Ho God? We just waited for every one to rest, Pradheep planned to climb over the shafts in his grand parents home.

For what?

Dr.Madeswaran

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