Aug 25, 2014

Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayagar Kovil, Chettinad

It is that time of the year again when Hindus are gearing up for Ganesh Chaturthi (Aug 29th, 2014), birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha. Every home celebrating this festival installs images of clay images of Lord Ganesh and after the celebrations are over the images are immersed in water.

If you have noticed the lovable elephant headed God is always depicted with His trunk curved towards left. The popular belief is that: the left side of our body symbolizes the feminine side of our personality and is cool and composed by nature. The right side is masculine and is considered hot fiery and aggressive. So Lord Ganesha depicted with His trunk turned to left, is believed to be in good mood and is easy to please. No strict rules need to be followed while worshiping this idol.

Lord Ganesha depicted with trunk to right is known as Siddhi Vinayaka and is worshiped in a special manner adhering to rules very strictly. Puja is performed after fulfilling all religious requirements. If the rules are violated the results can be disastrous. Such idols are rare.

There is one temple in Chettinad, Tamil Nadu which has this image of Karpaga (black) Vinayagar, carved out of a single black stone by a sculptor called Ekkattur Koon Peruparanan. The trunk of Lord Ganesh here is curled towards right side. He is ‘Valamburi Vinayagar’ and believed to be a powerful deity who makes devotees’ wishes come true. Another unusual factor is the idol faces north direction. Yet another unique feature is Vinayaga here is with two arms, else where in other temples Vinayaga idol is featured with 4 arms. The temple walls reverberate with Veda mantras recited by students throughout the day.

The reflections of the gopuram (gates) of the temple looked good. Believed to be 1600 years old, the temple’s northern tower was erected by the Pandya kings. The Nagarathar community, renovated it in 1284, and added the eastern tower and an adjoining mandapam.

The temple is almost always crowded with devotees. Photography is strictly prohibited inside. The long queue to enter it was slightly discouraging, but it moved fast. Most eye-catching was the golden trunk. I stood long enough to grasp it in my eyes and mutter a silent prayer. Outside several activities were on. I saw this family offering some kind of puja.

Location - Pillayarpatti is situated at a distance of 71Kms from Madurai and 12Kms from Karaikudi on Thirupathoor - Karaikudi state highway in Tamil Nadu.

Our World Tuesday

Aug 23, 2014

Faces of India - 175

He is security guard. I met him at one of the museums of Goa. He originally belongs to Punjab, a state in north of India. He migrated to Goa more than 16 years back and since then Goa is his home.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here

Aug 21, 2014

Facade of Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa attracts huge number of pilgrims from all over the world when the body of St. Francis Xavier is brought out for public viewing every 10 years. In this year of 2014 the body will be again displayed to public.

The facade is a combination of different elements of architecture the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian design. I don't understand too much of these designs, but I remember the guide making a mention of this and I was admiring his knowledge about all this. The central rectangular pediment has Jesuit emblem - IHS - abbreviation of Latin Jesus Hominium Salvator (Jesus, Saviour of Men).

Another unique factor of this church if you noticed is the unplastered state of its facade. It was not so less than a century back. The lime plaster that adorned the facade was ripped off by a zealous Portuguese conservationist in 1950. Apparently his notion was that exposed to the elements, the laterite stone of which the basilica is built would become more durable and thus the building would be strengthened. Despite proof to the contrary, no one has got around to putting the plaster back yet; hence, some of the intricate carving is eroding with the dousing of each successive monsoon.

SkyWatch Friday

Aug 18, 2014

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus (literally, 'Good (or Holy) Jesus')in Old Goa is one of the oldest churches of India. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Goa may be known for its beaches and most tourists visit Goa just for beaches but this monument is definitely worth a visit. Built in 1594 and consecrated in May 1605, the monument is maintained well, though partially in ruins the remaining is still in good condition. It got the status of ‘minor basilica’ in 1946.

It was one of the week days when I was there so didn’t find many tourists around. The guide took us around explaining its origin and many little stories associated with the church. Below is a small virtual tour of the interiors of Basilica of Bom Jesus. As you enter to the right is an altar of St. Anthony, the work around it is very rich, the paintings around it are old and faded off.

To the left is this exceedingly well-carved wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier. The fine design on the pillars stunned me and to think it is more than 4 centuries old!


Here is the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier. He died on 3rd December 1552, on the Chinese island of Shangchuan, at the age of 46. His body was buried in three different countries. Each time the body was exhumed, it was found to be fresh. The sight of the holy body through the glass pane can be scary.

Lonely Planet mentions: The three-tiered structure is constructed of jasper and marble, flanked with stars, and adorned with bronze plaques that depict scenes from the saint’s life. The casket is designed by Italian Jesuit Marcelo Mastrili and constructed by local silversmiths in 1659, whose sides were originally encrusted with precious stones which, over the centuries, have been picked off.

The interiors are otherwise simple; even the ceiling looks quite bare. A projecting gallery, intended for the use of dignitaries on solemn occasions, runs along the two longer sides of the Church.

Our World Tuesday 

Aug 16, 2014

Faces of India - 174

A little fellow resident of my apartment complex holding the national flag high!

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here