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Murudeshwar Temple is located in Karnataka, and is built on the Kanduka Hill which is surrounded by the Arabian Sea on all the three sides.
The entrance of the temple is called the 'gopura', and it stands at 123 feet, and visitors can also witness the breathtaking view of the Lord Shiva statue from the top of the gopura.
One the most magnificent feature of this temple is that the entire surface of this temple is covered in the most detailed carvings. At the same time, the compound of the temple has recently been modernised, except the sanctum sanctorum, which still remains in its original form.
Interestingly, the main deity of worship in the temple is the Sri Mridesa Linga, which is believed to be a part of the original Atma Linga.
The story behind this temple is quite interesting. According to storytellers, the Atma Linga or the Soul of Lord Shiva was the key to invincibility and immortality.
Once, Demon King Ravana decided upon acquiring the Soul of Lord Shiva for which he devoutly prayed. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Shiva granted him the Atma Linga, but on the condition that it must not be placed on the ground before he reaches back to his home, Lanka. However, Lord Ganesh and Lord Vishnu tricked him into putting the Atma Linga on the ground, post which it got attached and became immovable. Seeing this, Demon King Ravana became angry and tried to destroy the Atma Linga, but the force of his attack only managed to scatter the Atma Linga to different places, which gave rise to many a sacred spot throughout the country, one of them being Murudeshwar.
So, if you're planning to getaway this winter season, then you must choose this place as there is no difficulty in reaching here, too. Easiest way to reach the Murudeshwar Temple is by air, and the nearest airport is Mangalore International Airport.
It must be noted that strict dress code is followed, and so men visitors are required to wear only dhotis, and women visitors are required to wear only saree or churidaar with dupatta.
Native to Karnataka, Yakshagana is known as a performance celebrating the music of the celestial beings. It is more of a folklore tradition along the Konkan coast, that overlaps a performance of dance and drama.
Yakshagana was traditionally an all-male enterprise. Men would dress up in elaborate costumes, heavy headgear, and perform all night, telling stories inspired by Hindu epics. Instances from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are relayed through the musical. The performers use specific instruments, like the harmonium, metal clappers, and drums. As the heavy titillating music plays, the actors move in motions expressing the situation.
Yakshagana performance on stage Image source: wikimedia commons
The headgear is decorated with metal and beads. It is quite heavy, and to be able to wear it and dance all night, dancers must be healthy, strong, and have a good stamina. These are known as Yakshagana pagade, and are custom-made. The actors paint their faces with natural dyes, and the shades they use distinguish this art form from similar ones like Theyyam and Kathakali that are native to Kerala. Yakshagana actors patronize shades of yellow, red, brown, orange, and white.
There are two types of Yakshagana performances. Moodalapaya is the form that is still inherent to rural culture and is not performed in urban or commercial settings. Paduvalapaya is the form that has evolved to accommodate the knowledge and interests of modern crowds. This is the form that is performed for tourists at the coasts. There is a slight difference in the presentation of the dance form in the north and southern coast. In the north, facial expressions are emphasized, while in the south, the costume, art, and dance is highlighted.
These days, women take part in Yakshagana performances Image source: wikimedia commons
Yakshagana is still performed in temples and temple towns on special occasions. In rural Karnataka, one can see these performances happening regularly. Today's performances feature women as well, and some times the cast is entirely female.
Keywords: Yakshagana, Dance, Coast, Karnataka, Konkan Coast
Art is not considered a necessity in schools nowadays. It is as important as academics because it will teach students not just creativity but about culture and community as well. For instance, Mandala as an art form may help in learning Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Mandala can be understood in two ways, the external one which is symbolism and internal which is used as a guide for practices like meditation.
Mandala, the term simply means a circle in Sanskrit. The first time it was ever produced was in the first century before the Christ era as a Buddhist art form. In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment. Photo by Amisha Nakhwa on Unsplash
Siddhartha Gautama, as it is known, is the father of Buddhism. He is said to be born in the Lumbini Province, Nepal. The date of his birth is not confirmed but the historians say it to be around 560 B.C. The known facts are that after being aware of the human sufferings and to attain enlightenment he left his kingdom. He sought to attain enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. He traveled across parts of India to spread his philosophy and eventually gained followers. The first sangha, a Buddhist community of monks, was formed thereafter.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
These Buddhist monks started traveling across Asia carrying the mandalas through the Silk Route, an ancient trade route which connected the East and West. They helped in spreading Buddhism and these art forms. Though initially it all started with Buddhism it came to Hinduism and other religious practices too. The painters of such spiritual crafts were usually sacred laymen. They worked sitting on the floor.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. The traditional mandala of Tibet represents the enlightened state of Buddha through sand art. The creation of which can take up to weeks but after it is completed it is destroyed in a few hours to depict the Buddhist ideology that nothing is permanent.
They are also used as photo frames at the places of meditation as a sacred belief. Dream catchers also have Mandalas to protect the person sleeping. Most dream catchers can be identified as having the shape and patterns of Mandalas.The creating and keeping of Mandalas can transform and help one in attaining inner peace and wisdom.
Keywords: India, Tibet, Buddhism, Hindu, mandala art, meditation, silk route
The Tamil Culture began in India during the Sangam age, when the three kingdoms of the South, Pandya, Chera, and Cholas ruled the Southern peninsula. Together they contributed immensely to the heritage, literature, and the religion of South India. Among the many literary texts of the age, Sillapadikaram is an important epic that deeply impacted the city of Madurai, and established a cult among the Tamils which thrives even today.
A temple dedicated to Kannagi Amman Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia commons
Sillapadikaram tells the story of a woman named Kannagi who was a devoted wife to her husband, Kovalan, who lost his wealth to a female courtesan Madhavi. Kannagi and Kovalan left the city and tried to make a living with what was left of their wealth. Kannagi offered to sell one of her anklets, which contained diamonds inside, to make ends meet. Coincidentally, the queen of Madurai also had the same kind of anklets, but they were filled with pearls. When Kovalan reached the city, he happened to go to the goldsmith who had made the queen's anklets, and he was executed on the assumption that he had stolen her anklets. Kannagi hears about this and comes to Madurai enraged. She curses the king and the city for their injustice. The entire city burned and Kannagi became known as a symbol of chastity and loyalty to her husband.
A museum containing artifacts of Kannagi in Poompuhar Image source: wikimedia commonswikimedia commons
From this epic, the cult of Kannagi, or the Kanaki Amman cult was born in the south. Since the burning of the city led to immense rain, Kannagi also became known as the celestial goddess of rain, and is worshipped as Mari Amman (Goddess of Rain) in Tamil Nadu. The Sinhalese of Sri Lanka worship Kannagi as Pattini Deviyo, or the chaste wife. The Sinhalese are a Buddhist cult who see Pattini Deviyo as a form of the Bodhisattva. They follow a different epic source to fund their beliefs. In Kerala, some versions of the Kannagi goddess are worshipped.
In the Southern most tip of India, the Kannagi temples were converted into shrines for Mary according to the Catholic tradition when missionaries came to India. The Kannagi cult directly translated into devotion for Mary. Velankanni in Tamil Nadu, is a famous coastal township that serves as a pilgrim spot for many South Indian Catholics. A statue depicting Kannagi holding out an anklet and demanding justice for her husband stands at Marina Beach in Chennai.
Keywords: Sillapadikaram, Kannagi, Sri Lanka, Tamil epic, India, Peninsula, Madurai