Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Velimalai Kumara kovil - (Sri Murugan temple) in Kanyakumari district - set in a serene hilly terrain


There is a Tamil adage that  says ''Kundruthorum  edathil  Kumaran Kovil unndu'' meaning  ''where there is a  hillock there will be temple dedicated to Lord Muruga (Karthkaya).'' About the six abodes of Lord Muruga, with the exception of Tiruchendur, TN which is on the beach, the rest are on a hillock or a small elevated terrain  as in Swamimalai near Kumbakonam, TN.  The  Velimalai Murugan temple on a hill top, in the south most peninsular India close to  Nagercoil - on the road to Thiruvananthapuram, bordering the town of Padmanabhapuram is a popular destination for the devotees of Karthikaya (or Subramanya) and the added attraction is its serene surroundings with greenery. The  sthala viruksha (sacred tree)  of the temple is a 100 plus year old vengai tree. The processional
Velimalai Murugan temple, Kanyakumari. TN, facebook com.
deity (utchavar) is Manavaala Kumaran. The temple is  at Padmanabhapuram, which is famous for  the majestic wooden  palace of the erstwhile Travancore Maharajah, on the slopes of the Veli hills. Set in  the scenic surroundings, the temple is renowned among all the Murugan temples in Kanyakumari District.
Velimalai Murugan temple, Kanyakumari. TN tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.com
There are a few versions as to the origin of the hill' name Veli malai. Vel was the surname for the Ay rulers  who controlled a medieval Hindu feudal kingdom on the Malabar coast. The hill that belonged to the Ay rulers came to be called as Velimalai. Some people say it is  Velvi Malai since Lord Murugan performed a yagna with a view to promoting  union of jivatma with Paramatma.
Kumarakovil 
also known as Kumara Kshetram and Subrahmanya Sthala in Malayalam that has a massive monolithic idol  of the deity, has found mention in the Tamil literature work  Silappatikkaram by Elangovadikal and is called  the  Chera Nattu Aeragam.  Believed to be pretty old as far back as the period of Buddhism 650-850 CE in Kerala,  Kumarakovil, according to stone inscriptions,  has been around since 18th century CE . This is said to be the birth place of Valli, consort of lord Kathikaya.

In this temple that can be reached through a  flight of forty steep steps, the consort of Lord Murugan is Valli, a woman from the hill tribal community) in the same sanctum (srikovil) and her  stone idol is a tall one -
six and a half feet. The main deity is set in such a way as to facing east direction  where the Sthanumalayan (Lord Siva) of Suchindram is located. The  big idol of Lord Murugan made from single stone is eight feet and eight inches tall. Perhaps, Murugan  stone idol in the Vallikandpuram temple close to Perambalur town, TN (this Chola temple is older than the Thanjavur big temple) is  yet another Hindu temple with a  tall stone idol of Muruga.  In this temple lord's image has  long  ears  suggestive of influence of  Buddhism.   It is believed there are foot prints of of Nandi and Murugan  atop the hill often  referred to as   Nandipadam and Murugan Padam.An interesting feature of this temple is  the presence of a shrine for Daksha, the maternal grandfather of Lord Murugan.  There is a shrine for Ganapati on the right side of the entrance to the inner Prakara (Prthakshanapath). He is called Kalyana Vinayakar, because he helped Lord Muruga to seek the hands of Valli.  On the west prakara one may find many  shrines -  for Kasi Lingam,etc and on the south side  Mahadevan, Sivakami and Chadikeswarar. Arumuga Nayinar - Lord Murugan with  his  two consorts, Valli and Deivayanai. This temple is associated with the legends of Valli’s marriage with Murugan. This is said to be the birth place of Valli.
 The Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) the temple comes alive and it is a period of celebration. Yes, the divine wedding of Valli  (a tribal woman) and Murugan is held with religious fervor and bhakti and devotees in thousands attend this grand festival. The reenactment of  Kuravar (hill tribes) Patukalam, the war waged by Valli’s relatives against Murugan, is a colourful event, interesting to watch it;  an unbroken tradition that continues for a long time. When the wedded divine couple reaches the rear entrance of the temple, Kuravas surrender to Lord Murugan and happily  give consent to the marriage. Then  after  abhishekam and deepa aradhana, a formal wedding is celebrated at night in the well decorated temple mandapam with flowers of various hues. During the marriage, Valli colai, Vatta colai, Kizavan colai......  etc., are given as gifts to Lord Murugan from the bride’s side. The seven-day festival begins in the star of Anuradha in the month of Panguni. On the day of the wedding Manavala kumaran (processional deity)  in a palanquin  is carried to Thiru Kalyana Mandapam, 2 km from here. After the  celestial wedding, the deities are taken reverentially with pomp in a procession back to the original temple.
Kumaracoil Subramania Swamy Temple Kavadi Kettu Festivalhttp://murugan.org 
The other popular festivals celebrated here are Kanda Sashti,  Vaikasi Visakam and Thaipusam.   Kavadi worship to Kumaraswami on the last Friday of the Tamil month of Karttikai is an interesting one. Its origin goes back to 200 yers ago. When there was no rain due to continuous dry spell in this region, the worrisome erstwhile  Maharajah of Travancore  asked his security  guards to offer kavadi worship to Kumaraswami.The lord answered the prayer by way of copious rain fall which promoted agriculture and welfare of the people all over. Since then, the police offer Kavadi worship to the deity toward the end of Karthigai month. 

The old tradition has been that during Navarathri festival Velimalai Kumaran, on a decorated silver horse (vahanam), is taken all the way to Tiruvananthapuram along with Padmanabapuram Saraswati and Suchindram Munnoottinanka (Goddess Shakti). After Navaratri the idols are taken  back to the temple.Soora samharam is yet another  festival held here, but it is not as grand as that of Thiruchendur temple, TN. Devotees make all kinds of commitments to have their wish fulfilled such physical ailment, wedding of their daughter, etc . The offerings include besides Kavadi, milk abishekam, Santhana Kappuu (sandal kaappu)  and tonsuring. Many parents bring their new kid for the first tonsure at this temple. This is done for the kid's welfare longevity and good health.  Another attraction is Valli guhai(cave) atop the hill  about 2 km off the main temple.  Valli sunai is a pond where it is believed that  Valli  used to take bath  and  Murugan came in the disguise of an old man to woo Valli. The protocol of worship offered here on the last Friday of  every Tamil month. The Kanji (a sort of porridge) 
Kerala Tantram is a protocol of worship offered in this temple along the lines of most other temples in Kanyakumari district. Fridays, especially the last fridays of every Tamil month are considered to be very sacred here. The Kanji which is distributed
as prasadam that is said to have  miraculous healing properties.
Pushpabishekam is done  on the last Friday in the month of aavani an the idol of  Kumaran is completely covered with hundreds of baskets of flowers offered  by the  devotees.
http://murugan.org/temples/kumarakoil.html  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vellimalai