Kerala has Temples Dedicated to Mahabharata’s most loved Villains: Shakuni and Duryodhana

Not only heroes, villains are also worshiped in India.

Shakuni and Duryodhana in Mahabharata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • In Mahabharata, Shakuni was uncle to the Kauravas and regarded as the reason behind the battle of Kurukshetra
  • The Shakuni  temple is also known as Mayamkottu Malancharuvu Malanada Temple in Kerala
  • It is widely believed that through the “Sankalpam” the devotees actually worship Duryodhana

Kerala boasts of harbouring one of its kind temples – the Shakuni Temple and the Duryodhana Temple. Religious shrines dedicated to the two characters of Epic Mahabharata- Shakuni and Duryodhana of Mahabharata stand in Pavithreswaram and Poruvazhy of the Kollam district of Kerala.

The Shakuni  temple, in all its glory, is known as Mayamkottu Malancharuvu Malanada Temple. Shakuni was the most infamous character of the epic text Mahabharata. An uncle to the Kauravas, he is often regarded as the real reason or at least one of the real reasons responsible for the outbreak of the battle of Kurukshetra.  However, when we come across the tragic fate of Shakuni’s childhood and family, we cannot help but somehow pity him.

Shakuni Temple in Pavitreshwar.
Shakuni Temple in Pavitreshwar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Folklore has it, that whilst the battle of Kurukshetra was going on, Shakuni travelled with his nephews and finally reached this place in Kerala, then of course, Kerala or even India was yet to exist as it exists now. There, the Kauravas set about the task of choosing their weapons and armour. From that, it got its name “Pakutheswaram”. It is said that after the bloody coup of Kurukshetra came to a standstill, Shakuni went back to this place to attain moksha. There, with the aid of spiritual Gods and Goddesses, he became an enlightened spirit having gotten rid of all kinds of corruption of soul.

An actor as Shakuni in a TV show, Mahabharata.
An actor as Shakuni in a TV show, Mahabharata.

This temple worships a throne, which was supposedly the place where Shakuni used to sit. It is remarkable to see how these people have, in full light of their optimism, chosen to pay homage to the better part of a villain’s soul. Every year, a Malakkuda Maholsavam festival is celebrated in the temple, in the month of Makaram  of the Malayalam calendar.

On the other hand, the actual name of Duryodhana was Suyodhana and it is because of the corruption of character and increasing immorality, that he came to be known as “Duryodhana” in mythology. His greed and wrongdoing led to the outbreak of war and death of a huge number of people in the vicinity of his kingdom.

In spite of that, some believe that he wasn’t really the evil man that he is always portrayed as. Therefore, some people worship him in the temple located at Poruvazhy. There is no idol as such, thus, the people have resorted to submitting themselves to their desired deity via a spiritual process called “Sankalpam”. It is widely believed that through this “Sankalpam” the devotees actually worship Duryodhana.

Temple dedicated to Duryodhana in Poruvazhi.
Temple dedicated to Duryodhana in Poruvazhy. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The rituals that are performed whilst paying homage to him are macabre and absurd. It is devoid of orthodox prejudices. Certain items like coconuts, arracks, sheep, silk and so on so forth are generally offered. The annual festival of the temple is also Malakudda festival.

India and its people never cease to surprise. Who would have thought that there can be something so pure in the villains of our epics that would urge people to worship them? It does not end at Shakuni and Duryodhana temples. India also has temples dedicated to Angaraj Karna and demoness Hidimba. Incredible India, indeed!

-The article is prepared by a staff-writer at NewsGram.


  • Aparna Gupta

    This is interesting! I was not aware that such temple exists. Good piece of information

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is indeed impressive. You never know there might be a temple of Kans mama too!

  • devika todi

    for all we know, we have glorified the heroes in the epics as gods and the flawed characters as villains. indeed, this happens only in India!