Saturday, August 9, 2008

Gods' own houses

With over 33 crore (that's 330 million) Gods, Hinduism has by convention, carved them up either geographically or by function - or even by just convenience of the worshipper. 'Bodyguard Muniswaran' for example, mainly blesses new vehicles. The goddess Mumba, while not very well known in many parts of India, has given her name to the city that was earlier Bombay. And each family typically has its own deity - but that doesn't tie each member down to just that one. Well, you get the picture.

There are 'Gods on every street corner'. The street corner Gods have a fairly local jurisdiction, drawing worshippers only from the nearby houses. Then there are temples like the one in this picture; neither deity in this Ayyappan - Guruvayoorappan temple at Mahalingapuram is 'original', but represent the major Gods of the neighbouring state of Kerala - Ayyappan and Guruvayoorappan. As the capital of the Presidency, Madras was a magnet for people from regions that are in Kerala or in Andhra Pradesh today. The people stayed on and contributed their native architectural styles to the city's landscape.

In Chennai alone, Ayyappan has at least four large temples dedicated to him, while Guruvayoorappan has at least two. That's certainly a lot of devotees!


Hilda said...

Oh my goodness, your religious structure sounds confusing and difficult to remember — especially for someone like me who has an awful time remembering names. I'd be worried that I might be offending some deity or another!

Shantaram said...

>> Hilda>> Hahaha - and you'll then have to find a special deity to protect you from all others!