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Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple: Temple of Justice in Tamil Nadu

The Anaimalai Temple is a unique place of worship, which also serves as the justice provision authority among the devotees

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Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple. Image source: www.123coimbatore.com
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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.

Anaimalai Temple. Source: minube.ie
Anaimalai Temple, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Source: minube.ie

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.

Reclined image of Masini Amman Source: www.anaimalaimasaniamman.tnhrce.in
Reclined image of Masini Amman
Source: www.anaimalaimasaniamman.tnhrce.in

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.’

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Rubbed red chilly paste on the ‘stone of justice’ Source: www.anaimalaimasaniamman.tnhrce.in

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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The Scion of Ikshvaku: A retelling of Ramayana by Amish Tripathi

The book is simple yet written nicely. It can get you engrossed right away. Everything is explained well, it is graphic enough for a reader to play it as a movie in their head.

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'The Scion of Ikshvaku' is based on Ramayana, though it deviates from the original epic. Wikipedia
'The Scion of Ikshvaku' is based on Ramayana, though it deviates from the original epic. Wikipedia
  • Amish Tripathi’s ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ is a retelling of Ramayana.
  • The book is a surprise to all the readers who think that it will follow the conventional story line.
  • The book has garnered good responses and has also built anticipation for the other ones in the series.

Amish Tripathi is famous for taking elements from Hindu mythology and adding his own imagination to concoct exciting and thrilling reads. His earlier books on Shiva got rave reviews. And now he’s back, and this time he is retelling us one of our favourite mythological stories. The story of Ramayana.

The first book of the Ram Chandra series by Amish Tripathi, The Scion of Ikshvaku, was released on 22 June 2015 after what seemed to be the most expensive promotional drive for a book, which even included YouTube trailers.

Akshay Kumar at the cover launch of 'The Scion of Ikshvaku.' Wikimedia Commons
Akshay Kumar at the cover launch of ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku.’ Wikimedia Commons

How much did Tripathi succeed in retelling us the story of Ramayana? 

Amish Tripathi knows how to mix mythology with his plots, but how accurate was his mythology this time around? For anyone who knows the Ramayana and expects ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ to be the same, must prepare themselves for a shock.

But for those who know how Amish Tripathi goes with his stories, the book will meet all their expectations, for Amish knows how to bend and create a story.

His literary style is nothing classic. Many people don’t even like it, but one cannot help but admire how Amish always manages to create new stories from old, rusty ones. He has an exceptional ability to keep the essence of mythological tales while spinning wildly deviant plots around them.

The narration in ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ is very good, with crisp dialogues and suspense which was aptly built up paragraph through a paragraph.

Amish builds upon the epic Rama, in a very un-Ramayana like manner (He never used the word ‘Ramayana’ which is very clever of him). The differences with the epic tale are apparent right where he lists the major characters. Ram is just another human hero and the story is devoid of any magical elements.

The first and greatest difference between the Ramayana and The Scion of Ikshvaku is the depiction of Ram as an unloved prince. His father, King Dasaratha, considers Ram inauspicious and reason for all his misfortunes. The very foundation of the epic is laid differently in the story.

Many characters surprise us we move forward with the story. For example, Manthara instead of a poor handmaiden is shown as the wealthiest businesswoman of Ayodhya in Amish’s world.

Another example is Sita, who Amish appointed as the prime minister of Mithila in his story. Ravana also only has one head in Tripathi’s version, though with a horned helmet.

Amish Tripathi, the author who knows how to bend mythology to create amazing stories. Wikimedia Commons
Amish Tripathi, the author who knows how to bend mythology to create amazing stories. Wikimedia Commons

The intrigue deepens as we read further into the story. Amish has played with this epic and has made it into a story which surprises us at every turn of event. It is nothing like we would think it would be.

Amish is unapologetic about all the changes he made in mythology and that is his USP.

The book is full of examples of Amish’s imagination, but it is for the reader to find them and judge them. The author has packed his book with all the necessary drama-action-comedy masala, the combination which always gets guaranteed success.

Honestly, the book cannot claim any literary merit, but Amish’s easy prose and page-turning style are designed to be enjoyable, not analyzable.

The book is simple yet written nicely. It can get you engrossed right away. Everything is explained well, it is graphic enough for a reader to play it as a movie in their head. This s one book which once picked up, you won’t be able to leave until it is done.