Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Visit to Thirunelly

It has been a month since I lost my Grand Mom. Even now some days I want to believe that it is all a dream. That I can go back to Kannur and see her smiling at the door steps. I wish that was true. I wish I could rewind!

It is customary to have the 40th and 41st day functions after the death in the family. We had to Ganapathi Homa & then go for the "Bali" Ceremony. On 6th Evening we started from Bangalore. We had booked in one of the private transport busses from Banglaore to Kannur. Deepak dropped us at the bus pick up point in the evening and we were on our way. The route is the same that I took for the Dec 12th trip, around 450 Km.

We reached Kannur in the morning and started making arrangements for the Pooja, Dinner for everyone and other arrangements. Close relatives arrived around mid day. Advika was having a good time playing around with all of them. The pooja started around 8:30pm and was over by around 10 pm. During the pooja an "Aal Roopam" was created. We also carried a portion of the bones after the cremation ceremony. According to Hindu Belief, Salvation is achieved if the remains are fortunate to be discharged in Holy Rivers like Ganga.  At Papanashini (sin’s destroyer)in Thrunelly : There is an interesting tale behind the stream attaining the power to ward off sins. When Garuda (eagle) was flying with Amritakumba (pot of nectar), Brahma was in the process of consecrating Vishnu’s idol at Thirunelly. Garuda noticed it and circled over the ceremony and dropped few drops of Amrita to the stream. Thereby the stream attained purifying power.

We had made arrangements for a Tempo Traveller (22 seater). All of us boarded the bus by around 10:30 am our First Destination : Thrissilery. Both Thirunelly and Thrissilery are in Wayanad district and close to Kaatikulam on the highway and are part of Thirunelly Panchayath. Most of the area is under the Forest Department (Wild life). Till some time back, the temple was in accesible by Road. I was told that in earlier times, people used to walk from one temple to the other. 

At Thrissilery we had arranged lodging facility.  We reached there around 3am. It was very cold. The Lodge was not great, but had basic facility. In any case we wanted to grab some sleep ASAP. We got up at 6 am and there was still fog around. We proceeded towards the temple for lighting the lamp at the temple. The temple is devoted to Lord shiva. There is a small Rock formation that can been seen right underneath the foundation of the main sanctum. The priest at the temple explained to us the rock formation underneath the temple. The temple I should say, looked quite old, except the outer sanctum. 

This  stunning temple of rather perfect architectural proportions, is inextricably linked with the Vishnu temple at Thirunelli. It is believed that the performance of ancestral rites at Thiruneli remain unfinished unless followed by offerings at this temple.Thast is because as per our belief, Lord's head is lying there while his feet is lying at Thirunelly. You need to light a lamp there before proceeding towards Thirunelly for Bali ceremony. Within the premises there is also a shrine devoted to Jala Durga, believed to have been installed by Parasurama.

There is a short cut from Thrissilery to Thirunelly, without reaching Kaatikulam, but the road was is a real bad shape. We took the longer route. 

Brahmagiri hill can rightly be called the patron of Thirunelly temple. The deity here is Vishnu. The Papanashini stream flows close-by where devotees’ sins wash away. Thirunelly known as Thenkashi (Kashi of the South) is like Gaya in Bihar where the rites conducted for the emancipation of the departed is considered as ultimate and complete. The temple is also famous for Puthrakameshti (praying for sons) and marriage-fullfilment rites. The 3000-year old shrine is shielded by 30 unpolished granite columns. There is an aqueduct in the side to tap the Papanashini stream.On the southern side of the temple there is a pond called Panchatheertha where five rivers used to meet in the past. In the summer the pond is waterless. Usually the pond is covered by dense undergrowth. A mound is seen in the centre of the pond on which a stone slab with the imprint of Vishnu’s feet is also seen. The imprint is called Vishnupad.
There are many myths connected with the temple tank here, which curiously enough never dries up!

We proceeded towards Temple and prayed at the temple entrance. After that we proceeded towards the Papanashini stream. My father discharged the remains of my Grand mother down stream. We then proceeded upstrem for the Bali ceremony. We took a dip in the stream. The preiest then oversaw the Bali ceremony. We did Bali for most of our known relatives. 

We then proceeded towards the Main temple and prayed. On the way back to the main temple there is a small temple devoted to Lord shiva in a cave. You cannot enter the cave (it is so small an opening). But I could see a lamp being lit at the sanctum. At the main temple we did a thottil ritual for advika. 

We started back around 12 Noon and arrived in Kannur by around 4 pm.  We got some rest and boarded our Bangalore bus at 830pm. A Tiresome(body) but rejuvinating(soul) journey! 

Scenes from Thirssilery Temple.