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NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu is known as the temple city of India and the state is considered as the torchbearers of the magnificent heritage of that region. The Hindu Tamil temples here are a classic example of art form evolved over thousands of years and thus very much glorifies the ancient culture of Tamil Nadu and of India as well.
Tamil Nadu has nearly 33,000 ancient temples scattered on its land and some of them are known to be the biggest temples of the Hindu community. The Hindu Tamil temples located here dates back to 800 to 1400 years and still stands to be rock solid. Although, the historical records describe the scriptures to be 3,000 years old but the wide variety of complex and wealthy architecture of these temple makes it difficult to believe in their ages.
Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period when Pallavas, Cholas, and Nayakas were the rulers of Deccan Plateau of India. Thus, these Hindu Tamil temples help you to get an immense insight of elaborate and brilliant sculptures of those times.
All these things point out towards the rich culture and heritage of Tamil Nadu.
For the coming New Year, we have compiled a list of 10 famous temples of Tamil Nadu that will walk you through a great spiritual experience and offer you to learn about the mesmerizing past of the state. The astounding beauty does spellbind every visitor and tourist.
- Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
The ‘Meenakshi Amman Temple’ is devoted to Goddess Parvati in the character of Meenakshi and her partner, Lord Shiva in the character of Lord Sundareshwarar. It is one of the most ancient and famous temples of Tamil Nadu, as the temple was built around 6th century AD and a major portion of it got damaged in the 14th century during the Muslim invasion. The present structure was again restored to its pristine glory by the Nayak rulers. The whole temple is furnished with thousands of figures of gods, goddesses, and demons.
The Meenakshi Amman Temple is a masterpiece of the Dravidian architecture and is no less than an ancient architectural marvel. Thousands of devotees throng this temple every year during ‘Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival’ in the months of April-May.
2. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the largest temples in India and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. This Hindu Tamil temple was built during the reign of the Chola dynasty in 11th century AD and stands 216 ft. tall. The temple is known for one of its structure known as ‘Vimana’ and claimed to be the tallest structure in the world.
The Brihadeeswarar temple comes under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ‘Great Living Chola Temples’. The Temple also professes of being the world’s first temple completely built from granite stone.
3. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam
The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is located on the Srirangam Island of the Tiruchirappalli city in Tamil Nadu. The temple is another gem built by the Dravidian architectures and is counted as the first amongst the 108 holy abodes of Lord Vishnu. It is spread across an area of over 150 acres with some dazzling tower gateways.
According to archaeological records, the exact is not known and dates back to the 10th century under the rule of Chola dynasty. The temple was plundered in the 14th century by Muslim invaders but was again restored by the Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers in the 16th century.
4. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram
Ramanathaswamy Temple is located on the serene island of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. This temple is considered as one of the holy ‘Char Dhams’ and included in the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This Hindu Tamil temple is supposedly built by the Pandya rulers during the 12th century.
Such is the divineness of the temple that it is observed as one of the four primary pilgrimage destinations for Hindus. ‘Vishwalinga’ is located next to Ramalinga, the Shivlinga that is believed to be brought by Hanuman. The most amusing thing is the corridor hall which is acknowledged as the longest in India.
5. Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval
Jambukeswarar Temple was built during the reign of Chola empire and is located on the Srirangam Island. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and represents a Dravidian style of architecture.
The temple holds 5 enclosures inside it and the innermost enclosure is the main sanctum housing the Shivlinga in the form of Appu Lingam. There is a mysterious water stream under the Shivlinga that continuously flows out. According to an ancient ritual, every day the priest of the temple dresses in saree and offers prayer to Lord Jambukeswarar which is a very unusual practice.
6. Kanchi Kailasanthar Temple, Kanchipuram
Kanchi Kailasanthar is believed to have been built under the rule of the Pallava Dynasty and dates back to the late 7th century- early 8th century. This Hindu Tamil temple is the oldest temple in Tamil Nadu and dedicated to Lord Shiva with 16 sided Shivlinga’s made of black granite stone. It is located in Kanchipuram district of Tamilnadu and made entirely of sandstone.
There are various delicately carved sculptures of Lord Shiva and also walls of this temple have pictures of Goddess Parvati. The temple is said to attract a large number of pilgrims, especially during the occasion of Maha Shivratri.
7. Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram
Ekambareswarar Temple is counted amongst five elements of the universe and is devoted to the element earth. This shrine holds great substance for followers of Lord Shiva. The exact date of its existence is still not known but it is believed to have been in the existence since 600 AD.
Inside the structure, there is a 1000 pillared hall with carvings of Shivlingas. There is also a mango tree present in this Hindu Tamil temple and is believed to be 3000 years old and what makes it special is that it bears four different types of Mangoes in four different seasons in a year.
8. Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai
Kapaleeshwarar Temple’s structure dates back to 16th century but after the devastation caused by Portuguese, it was built back by Pallava kings during the 7th century. The Hindu Tamil temple is located in Mylapore district of Chennai.
The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and is one of the key pilgrimage sites of Tamil Nadu. It presents a tremendous artwork of the Dravidian architecture. The temple also holds an essence of Goddess Parvati and there is also a small shrine dedicated to her.
9. Monolithic Rock Temples, Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is known for some very famous ancient temples present in that area and thus it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage site. The site was erected during the reign of Pallava dynasty and dates back to 7th century. The town holds a hallmark of the superb craftsmanship of that era. Monolithic Rock Temples is known for famous five monolithic rock-cut temples. The temple has been dedicated to a Pandavas and relates to the period of Mahabharata.
The other attraction of the Mahabalipuram town is the marvelous ‘Shore Temple’. Unlike Monolithic Rock Temple, this temple is constructed of granite stone. This Hindu Tamil temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu along with the Sheshnag.
The whole place in itself is so serene and peaceful that it also complements the whole spiritual environment.
10. Kumari Amman Temple, Kanyakumari
As the name of the place suggests, Kanyakumari was a virgin Goddess and an avatar of Goddess Shakti. The temple is situated in Kanyakumari of Tamil Nadu and dates back to 3000 years back.
Located on the peninsula of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, the ‘Kumari Amman Temple’ is dedicated to the virgin Goddess Kanya Kumari, an avatar of Goddess Shakti. The sculpture of Goddess is a pleasing young girl, holding a rosary in her right hand.
The surrounding od this place really calls for some tranquility and solace. The sea around the holy structure makes it a perfect place to visit and get lost in the serenity of this place.
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.