Sunday, August 26, 2018

Shalini Samuel writes

Times are changing

The touch of God’s own country

Those green leaves bathed in monsoon shower

The contented smiles of wrinkled faces

The moderate pleasant atmospheric blanket

The melody of gushing streams

The chirping birds on big trees

The cranes and pelicans waiting for prey

The dancing beds of full-grown paddies

The silver ponds brimming with water

Green algae coated broken forts

Everything slowly recedes

From the narrow shore of human vision.

Oh, Nature, where have you hidden your treasures?

The majestic Western Ghat ends here

Two seas and a magnanimous ocean meets here

Chitharal, Thanumalayan, Kanyakumari Devi

Bagavathi Amman, St Xavier’s Church, Dargahs

Vivekanandar, Thiruvalluvar, Gandhi Mandapam

Gods and eminent personalities reside here

Sun rises and sets at Cape Comorin - BUT

Human intrusion, everywhere, even inside old ponds

And dead forests. Man-made structures explode

Akin to a message bomb that crashes the system

Buildings booms into the lush green locality

The flavor still lingers hoping to be redressed.


  1. The Western Ghats (also known as Sahyadri, Benevolent Mountains) run along the Arabian Sea parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula. The range starts near the Songadh town of Gujarat, south of the Tapti river, and runs approximately 1,600 km (990 mi) through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, ending at Marunthuvazh Malai, near Kanyakumari, at the southern tip of India. Kanyakumari derives its name from the Devi Kanya Kumari temple. The district was known as Cape Comorin until 1947, when India became independent. In 1949 it became part of the reconstituted Travancore-Cochin State but was merged with Madras (modern Tamil Nadu) in 1956 during the linguistic reorganization of states. The Chitharal Malai Kovil (“Temple on the Hill”) are Jain cave temples on the Thiruchanattu hillocks near Chitharal in the Kanyakumari district. A rock-cut structure of beads with inscriptions and drip-ledges is the earliest Jain monument in the southernmost part of India. Jain influence in the region was due to the 7th-century king Mahendravarman I, the son of Simhavishnu, the ruler who restored the Pallava kingdom. Mahendrravarma was initially a patron of the Jain faith but converted to the Saiva (Shiva-centric) faith. The temple monuments were probably built by Digambara (“sky-clad”) Jains in the 9th century. The Thanumalayan temple in Suchindram , also in the Kanyakumari district, is important to Shaivite and Vaishnavite (Vishnu-centric) sects. The temple’s main deity is Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma in a single linga, unique in india, called Sthanumalyam ("Stanu" means Siva, "Mal" means Vishnu, and "Ayan" means Brahma), but localized Tamil sects like amman and kandan are also represented by different idols in the temple. Suchindrum is derived from the Sanskrit word for "purify" due to the belief that Indra, the king of the gods, was relieved of a curse at the place where the main linga is located, and he worships there every midnight.

  2. The Bhagavathi Amman temple is in Jedarpalayam, in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. It is dedicated to Bhagavathi, the destroyer of sins who relieves evil spells, arranges suitable matches, promotes healthy children, and grants long happy lives to married women. St. Xavier's Church in Peyad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is named after Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (St Francis Xavier), a co-founder of the Societas Iesu ( Society of Jesus) in 1534 and then, from 1541 to his death in 1552, led missionary expeditions to Asia. He arrived in Goa to restore Christianity among the Portuguese settlers there, then went among the Paravas of Kanyakumari who had been baptized a decade earlier but remained uninstructed in the faith. He spent 3 years in southern India and Sri Lanka, then traveled to Malacca and the Maluku islands before returning to Goa in 1548. Then he traveled to Guangdong (its old English name, Canton, was derived from Cantão, the Portuguese muddling of various dialectical pronunciations of the city’s name). He reached Japan in 1549 and was finally allowed to land at Kagoshima, the southernmost part of Kyushu, then transferred his activities to Yamaguchi in 1550. After returning to Goa in 1552 he resumed his missionary effort in China but died on the island of Shangchuan, near Taishan, only 14 km from the mainland. The St. Xavier’s Church in Peyad was built in 1904. schools. A dargah (derived from a Persian word for "portal" or "threshold") is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, especially a Sufi saint or dervish, and serve as pilgrimage sites where the deceased saint may interecede on the pilgrim’s behalf . Over time, the impromptu musical offerings of dervishes and sheikhs in the presence of the devout gave rise to musical genres (like Qawwali and Kafi) in which Sufi poetry is accompanied by music and sung as an offering to a murshid, a type of Sufi spiritual instructor. In South Asia, dargahs are often the site of festivals held in honor of the deceased saint at the date of his urs (the day dedicated to the saint, usually marking the day he died). Vivekanandar Illam (Vivekananda House) in Chennai was a structure used by the British to store ice before it was purchased and remodeled as Castle Kernan by a local advocate. Upon his return from the US and the UK, where he introduced his personal brand of Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda spent 9 days there in 1897 and agreed to set up a permanent center there. It has since become an important place for the Ramakrishna Movement in South India. The Gandhi Mandapam is a serias of memorial structures in Chennai to honor Mohandas K. Gandhi and 3 Tamil Nadu political figures , Rettamalai Srinivasan (who had worked with Gandhi in South Africa and India and was one of the leaders of the scheduled caste movement), Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (“Rajaji,” the only Indian governor-general of the nation, whom Gandhi called the “keeper of my conscience”), Kumaraswami Kamaraj (another Gandhi associate who, as president of the Indian National Congress party in the 1960s, engineered the elevation of Lal Bahadur Shastri and then Indira Gandhi as prime minister after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru), and Minjur Bhaktavatsalam (Kamaraj’s successor as chief minister of Madras). The memorial to Gandhi was the 1st structure built (opened by Rajaji in 1956) and includes an urn containing the mahatma’s ashes; on 2 October, this birthday, the rays of sun fall exactly on the spot where the urn is kept.

  3. Thiruvalluvar, also known as Valluvar, was a Tamil poet best known for the “Thirukkuṛaḷ,”a collection of 1330 couplets divided into 133 sections of 10 couplets each; the 1st 38 sections are about ethics,, the next 70 about political and economic matters,, and the rest about love. He is also credited with 2 medical texts on medicine, “Gnana Vettiyan” (1500 verses) and “Pancharathnam” (500 verses), though these appear to have been written in the 16th and 17th centuries. He lived sometime between the 4th century BCE and the 7th century, and his name was not connected to his most famous work until the 10th century. In the 1st century BCE the Tamil poet Kapilar allegedly wrote the “Kapilar Akaval” in which he claimed to be Valluvar’s brother, who was born on the top of an oil-nut tree in Mayilapuram (Mylapore in Chennai (though sometimes this text is dated to the 15th century).


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