Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mom's SEPT 11-2010 Birthday

Mom's Sept11-2010 Birthday
My mom's birthday coincided with Ganesh Chaturthi this year. So it was kozhukattai's in the morning and yummy egg less fresh pineapple cake in the evening.I have been putting a lot of posts in the back burner,thanks to my back. So I wanted to do this post before October began!Well, one word that comes to my mind when I think of her is selfless.Despite her ill health,she does the best she can for me.What more can I ask.She is one of the primary reasons for this blog.It was her interest in temples that led me to blog about it.She is also a great cook. I still have not put up her recipes,which I will from now on.God bless her with good health and prosperity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Namakkal Anjaneyar Temple: A Geologist's perspective

Entrance to the Narasimha Swamy Temple
The July 2010 blog meet churned out many friends for me.One amongst them is Niki Shetty,Lataji's daughter. She is this bright,witty and extremely adorable young lady.For starters she happens to be a geologist.How rare is that. I was very keen that she does a post for me on the temples in Namakkal and she obliged.Such a deary.To sum up Niki Shetty in two words."SHE ROCKS".So do read up her version of the Namakkal Anjaneyar Temple Visit and her memories around her native place.The collage on top is the picture captured by her and the butter decorated Anjaneyar  is a picture I have used from namakkal

 My hometown, Namakkal is a city in the Namakkal district in central Tamil Nadu, with a population of about 53000, according to the last census. The city gets its name from “Namagiri”, a rock that sits in the centre of the town. There are two temples in the town – the famous Namakkal Anjaneyar temple and, across the street, the Namagiri Thaayaar and Narasimha Swami temple.

Eating juicy Malgova mangoes whole and playing badminton in thatha’s car shed with my cousins form some of my fondest memories of childhood summer holidays. When I think of those vacations, temple visits to these shrines with amma, appa, grandparents or cousins, also comes to mind. There is a sense of comforting attachment, for me, to these temples and the deities.
Sculpture on pillar
The Narasimha Swami shrine is a cave temple that has been dug into a side of the Namagiri. On the other side of the hill is a Ranganadhar Swami shrine. The Anjaneyar temple stands across the street from the Narasimhar shrine, as the Lord Hanuman is having darshan of Sri Vishnu in the Narasimha avatar. 

There is a story that is often told about how the Namakkal hill came into being. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi did not get to witness the Narasimha avatar as it happened, and prayed to Lord Vishnu that she be granted to see it. Lord Vishnu tells her to go to the area that is now known as Namakkal, and that she would witness the avatar there. As the Goddess waited by a pond in the area, Lord Hanuman comes there to take a dip before he performs his prayers. He presents to the Goddess Lakshmi, a Saligraamam stone, which He asks Her to hold until He has finished with his rituals – and He strictly instructs her not to put the stone to the ground. As Lakshmi holds the stone, She realizes it starts to grow heavy in her hands until She has no choice but to put it to the ground. As She does so, Lord Hanuman comes back, and they realize the stone has become immovable. It is said that on the face of the stone, both Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Hanuman witnessed the Narasimha avatar, and that Saligraamam stone stands today as the Namagiri in Namakkal town. It is also interesting to note that in this temple, the Namagiri Thaayaar shrine faces Narasimha Swami – it is said that She faces Lord Vishnu, so that She can witness him in the Narasimha avatar.
Namagiri Thaayar Gopuram
Being a geologist, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went to the temple one evening, armed with a hand lens to see what rock the hill really was made of. Life was made easy for me as the hill is a bare rock, and all I had to do was to stick my eye up close to take a look! The hill seems to be some kind of an igneous structure that is highly quartz rich –my guess is that it is either granite or dacite. I am still wondering what a Saligraamam stone is (in mineralogical terms) but, the belief of the people is that the Saligraamam is what we see today, as the Namagiri.

Small mandabam in the temple courtyard

The architecture in these temples is beautiful – as I mentioned earlier, the Narasimhar shrine sits inside the Namagiri. The shrine has Lord Vishnu, as Narasimhar and Lord Shiva and Brahma on either side, and is called a Trimurthi sthalam. All the deities in the shrine have been chiseled into the cave wall. When the archagar in the shrine finishes with the archanai and deepaaraadhanai, he will point out to you, the fine intricacies in the stone work. The texture of the nails on Narasimha Swami’s fingers and a red hue of the rock on His palm (believed to be blood stains from the Hiranyasamhaaram) are some of the things that are pointed out. 
Kodimaram and the front area of the temple
Also in the shrine, one can see carvings of the young Prahlad during the Hiranyasamhaaram, the Vaamana avatar, the Varaaha avatar and Vaikuntanaadhar. The Namakkal Anajneyar statue is a monolith that stands eighteen feet tall, with palms folded to His chest, as he takes darshan of the Lord Narasimhar. He stands with no gopuram over his head, open to rain and shine. The two temples are about 250 feet apart and the statues are built in such a way that Lord Hanuman’s eyes are in line with Lord Narasimhar’s feet. Standing at the Garudaalwar shrine, today, one can witness this! 
view of the hill and fort from outside Thaayar sannidhi

The temples are extremely beautiful and, to me, they are peaceful spaces I have enjoyed immensely all my life.

Thank you for the wonderful write up Niki.These temples are sheer poetry in stone.  According to Ramanujan,the mathematical genius,it was Namagiri Amman who whispered equations to him! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flower Power

The Butterfly pea is my all time favorite flower. I have captured these leggy lasses blooming in the pot in our balcony.  They are so sturdy and they yield beautiful flowers.Happy Anniversary to the key bunch people.This is my submission to their Say it with flowers carnival. Thank you for hosting this lovely event. 

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