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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kanyakumari Devi Temple

Devi Kanya Kumari

Kanyakumari was once referred to as the Alexandria of the east. This place has been a great center for art, culture, civilization, and pilgrimage for years. It was also a famous center for commerce and trade. During the early part of the eighth century AD Islam entered the southern part of India through the sea route with traders and missionaries. Through St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, Christianity arrived in this area in AD 52. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have greatly contributed to the architectural wealth and literary heritage of this place. Kanyakumari was also under the control of the Cholas, the Cheras, the Pandyas and the Nayaks who were great rulers of south India. The architectural beauty of the temples is the work of these rulers.

Legend has it that Kanya Devi, an avatar of Goddess Parvati, was to wed Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. But he did not turn up at the auspicious time and the wedding never took place. The rice and cereals meant for the marriage remained uncooked. Even today, one can buy stones there that look exactly like rice and cereals. Local folks believe that they are the leftovers of the legendary marriage that could not be solemnized. As for the princess Kanya Devi, she became a virgin godess.

The main entrance to the temple is through the northern gate though the deity is facing east. The eastern entrance is kept closed except on special occasions when the diety is taken out for the ceremonial bath. There are two rocks emerging out of the ocean, located southeast of the Kumari Amman temple. One among these is Sri Padaparai, where the footprints of the virgin goddess are believed to be imprinted on this rock. The idol of the goddess at Kanyakumari Temple Tamil Nadu has a rosary in one hand and is said to have been installed by Parasurama. Three corridors surround the sanctum. The outer corridor has no special shrines, but after a walk round it the devotees cross the 'Navarathiri mandapam' and a pathway leads to the second corridor encircling the shrine. There stands the flag mast or 'Kodisthambam'. From here you can have a clear view of the Goddess. A move further forward will take you in front of the sanctum. The shrines of Vinaygar and Thiagasundary are located in the inner corridor and most of the devotees visit these shrines after offering prayers to the goddess.

The main festivals are held in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May/June) and the Navarathri festival in September/October. The temple is open to the public from 4.30 AM to 11.45 AM and 5.30 PM to 8.45 PM. Male worshippers are required to remove their shirts before entering the temple.

It is an eminent belief that the diamond nose-ring of the deity is so shiny that it is visible even from the sea.

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