August 23, 2016: Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu is popularly known as the ‘temple of justice’ and is situated 15 miles from the town of Pollachi. The ones who are worshipped in this temple are Sri Masaniamman, Neethi Kal and Mahamuniappan.
Located where the Uppar stream and Aliyar River meet, the temple serves as a unique symbolism of the temple culture in India. It serves the purpose of a ‘panchaayat’ or as a welfare council for devotees, as a justice regulatory authority that settles disputes, and as a provider of remedies for sickly people.
Devotees write down their desires or wishes on a paper and hand it over to the priest of the temple, hoping for a miracle and rectification of their wrong deeds. The temple has devotees meeting miles from different parts of the nation- on Tuesdays, Fridays and especially Krithigai and new-moon day.
The temple is also called Anaimalai Masani Amman Temple. It has a huge 17-ft long sprawling idol of Sri Masaniamman— with a serpent in her one hand, a skull in the other, and trident and ‘udakkai’ (drums in the shape of an hour glass) in her other hands. What attracts tourists and devotees to this temple is the different positioning of the image in a reclining form, which is not found in any other temples.
Along with its mythological, legendary and historical connotations; this temple is an epitome of firm faith amongst devotees. Legend has it that when Lord Rama had set out to search for Sita, Rama had stayed in a graveyard at Anaimalai. Before leaving for Sri Lanka, Lord Rama created an idol of the goddess to worship, using clay. As a ‘vardaan’, Masaniamman blessed Lord Rama on his triumph over evil and winning his devoted wife back. The goddess was lying on her back in the graveyard, thus the reason why the image is placed this way.
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Since the beginning of Indian culture, the tradition of ‘dant kathaa’ has been played with the politics of interpretation. Dant kathaa or legend stories change from mouth to mouth, person to person. Mythologically speaking, it is believed that one’s prayers are answered within a time of nineteen days.
On the 18th day, a Mahamuni Puja is held and on the final day, the stone image (symbolising the Goddess of Justice) known as Neethi Kal responds to the pleading of the teased, the one who lost his riches, and many such people pay a visit to this temple. People take a holy dip in the water, wear the shrine’s holy ashes and grind some red chilly in the temple’s stone grinder. This paste of red chillies is now coated and greased on the ‘Neethi Kal.’
However, the historical account of the temple’s origination narrates a different story: Anaimalai was ruled by Nannan— the chief of a clan. Nannan was in possession of some mango trees and appointed some officials to look after the trees and punish any trespassers. Later, a woman who was bathing in the Aliyar river caught sight of a mango that dropped from the tree and came floating in the water. As a result, the spying officials took her to the chief and ultimately, she was executed.
Soon, the tribe of the young woman got infuriated on this and killed the ruler in a battle in Vijaymangalam. The temple of ‘Justice’ is this built to commemorate her sacrifice and martyrdom.
— prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna
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