Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pop temple

This temple at Thiruverkadu (literally "holy forest of roots"), about 5 km outside Chennai was one more of those old, poorly maintained temples until about 35 years ago. It has been around for a few centuries, it was serving the spiritual requirements of the local people. It is not the only temple at Thiruverkadu, but it is by far the oldest and the biggest.

This temple is dedicated to Karumariamman, one of the many manifestations of Amman, the mother goddess of south India (actually a deity popular in areas with strong Tamizh influence, including Singapore and Malaysia) and is therefore more favoured by womenfolk. The legends around this deity at Thiruverkadu date back almost a thousand years and were strung together in the 1975 Tamizh movie "Devi Sri Karumariamman" - one that went on to become a rather smash hit, and thus cemented its leading lady, KR Vijaya, as the face of the goddess. Grateful for her success, the actress became a regular visitor to the temple, joining hundreds of others who had their faith awakened thanks to the movie.

Today, this temple is the hub of all economic and commercial activity in Thirverkadu; it would only be a mild exaggeration to say that every resident of the locality depends on the temple for his/her livelihood, directly or indirectly!


Hilda said...

Fascinating history and cultural information. Sounds very similar to Catholic churches here in the Philippines. They are also usually the center, literally and figuratively, of every town.

Shantaram said...

@ Hilda: True, people had time - rather, made time - for it those days; there's even a Tamizh proverb, advising folks not to live in a place where there is no temple!