Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Temple Without Idol In Sacred Sanctum & Poojas Are Performed Only To The Door - Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple, Devadanapatti, Theni

This is a very ancient Kamakshi Temple here. It is called Moongilanai Kamakshi Temple. The main door of this temple is never opened and poojas are performed only to the door. Maha Shivaratri (Tamil month of Masi) on March is the only festival which is celebrated in this temple. This temple story is described in the Tamil movie "Mahashakti Mariamman". There is no Amman in visible idol form in the sanctum sanctorum to worship. The offerings here are quite different. The coconuts will not be halved and bananas will not be eye-opened (it means just a prick will be done always as a sign of naivedya, here that wont done).

Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple Archway
Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple Archway
This temple echoes that, idol worship is not the only way to connect to ones creator. The Temple is located in Devadanapatti, near Pariyakulam in Theni. Devadanapatti is located at the foothills of Kodaikanal Hills. The place is beautiful, serene and unperturbed by the mans interference. Temple is surrounded with lush green forests, waterfalls, creeks and other wild animals & birds. Temple is unique in every sense. The uniqueness is that it has no Temple Towers, Doors or Idols. Yes, there are no Idols in the sacred sanctums here. The main deity here is Kamakshi Amman. The idol is replaced with a door. Yes, door is worshiped here and it is revered as goddess Kamakshi. The other difference is that whole coconut and unpeeled bananas are offered. The coconuts are broken after the Aarathi.

Front View Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
Front View Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
In most of the temples, coconuts are broken in to two first, followed by abhishekam and only after that aarathi is taken. A lot of rituals are different. The lamps of this temple are lit only with clarified butter (ghee). A lamp that was lit some 500 years ago is still burning to this date in this temple. Devotees offer mainly ghee to the temple. There is a storage room with no doors and pots of ghee are accumulated. Some of the pots in this storage are as old has 500 years. The pots do not have coverlids; they are open and their aroma wafts around the temple complex. The ghee is still fresh, and has not gone off. They do not attract any insects either. Devotees believe this is because of Goddess Kamakshi’s blessings!

Courtyard Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
Courtyard Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
There is an interesting story behind this temple. ‘Amman Macchu’ is the moola-stanam of the temple. Amman Macchu is located farther away from this temple. When traveled from Devadanapaatti towards the Kodaikanal foothills one can find a Manjalaru Dam. Once crossed the dam, starts the beginning of a mud trail. While hiking further, we get two creeks namely olaiaru and majlaru, respectively. The trail leads to “Amman Macchu’’. This is the place where the goddess Kamakshi did penance to subdue her anger after killing ‘Asura’ a demon who tormented people of all lokas. Goddess came here and did penance in a bamboo bush. For the love of her devotees, goddess Kamakshi came here as a newborn baby, she was placed in a huge chest that was afloat in Manjalaru. She already communicated her arrival to her devotees in their dreams.

Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple Praharam
Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple Praharam
As per her instruction devotees waited for her arrival. As the chest was floating, the bamboo trees of Manjalaru stopped it. The people understood that the baby inside it is the Kamakshi. Hence the goddess here is known as ‘Mungil Anai Kamakshi.’ Which loosely translates to ‘Bamboo fence Kamakshi’. During every temple festival, the procession being from ‘Amman Macchu’ the temple festival is celebrated in Maasi (Feb-March) month’s Amavasai (no-moon day) that coincides with Shiva Rathri. It was goddess's order that the temple should be built away from Amman Macchu. Devotees throng this temple for both to fulfill their wishes and to thank the goddess for the offerings received.

Ghee Stored Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
Ghee Stored Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
Just a few yards away, on a hill sits the Karupanna Swamy temple. He is the official caretaker of Mungil Anai Kamakshi Temple. He also considered as the brother of Goddess Kamakshi. Before visiting the Goddess temple, it is a rule to visit Karpanna Swamy Temple. It is believed that Karpanna swamy temple was closer to the Kamakshi temple. However, later he moved away from the temple. Karpanna Swamy is a stanch non-vegetarian while his sister Kamakshi is a pure vegetarian. Due to the differences, he moved away to the near by hill. However, he did not abjure is duty from guarding his sister’s temple and the village. Around the temple complex’s there are many small sanctums for many gods and goddesses, like said before there are no idols and doors in these smalls sanctums just the name plate.

Devotees At Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
Devotees At Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple
There is a reason as why the idols are not kept inside the sacred sanctums. The worshipping of door in this temple came in to practice after a tiff between the priest and the king. To express priest’s dissatisfaction, he locked the sacred sanctum and went home and never returned. The locked sanctum was never opened again, and all the prayers were offered to the door instead. She is in ‘chest’ form. The temple tower is replaced with a dome made out of hays called Nana Pull. When the temple sanctum was closed down, the goddess again appeared in her devotees’ dreams to watch out for her, she gave all the instructions as well. Like before, she again arrived in a chest form. This time the chest was stopped by the ‘Naananpull’ a type of grass. People weaved a hut using these hays. This replaced the usual sacred tower.

Shrine Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman
Shrine Of Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman
Raja Kumbalathar are the ones who manage and maintain this temple. An elderly male (above 60) from Raja Kumbalathar Nayakanmar family changes the hay roof by weaving a new one. There are certain rituals that need to be followed before weaving a new roof. They have to fast for 48 days, should collect all the materials required from Murugamalai, a dense forest. When all the materials are gathered the elder person should climb upstairs blind folded from the backside of the sacred sanctum to the terrace and weaves it without looking in to it. Until they are done they are not supposed to leave and women are prohibited from entering the temple, till the weaving work is finished. Once it is completed, abishekam is done to the door.

Main Deity Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman
Main Deity Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman
Sairaksha Pooja is done every evening. The prayers are carried out with blowing of conch, and beating of sekandi (kind of percussion instrument). After this pooja pin-drop silence is maintained at the temple. It is believed that Goddess kamakshi is still alive and meditates every evening. This is a temple that says idols are not the only way to come closer to god, one can still connect to the God/creator without having to worship idol. God is everywhere and it us who needs to realize this absolute truth!

Temple Timings:

Morning Timings : 06:00 AM to 09:30 AM
Evening Timings : 06:00 PM to 09:00 PM
On Special Occasions timings might differ.

Temple Location:

Devadanapatti is a panchayat town in Theni district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. This village is located at the foothills of Kodaikanal Hills. Moongilinai Kamatchi Amman temple is one of the famous temple situated here. The Devadanapatti Kamakshi Amman Temple is an ancient temple situated in a tiny village called Devadanapatti which is 27 km from Theni. The temple stands by the Manjalar River.

Temple Address & Contact Details:

Sri Moongilanai Kamakshi Amman Temple,
Devadanapatti - 625 602,
Theni district,
Tamil Nadu.
Phone : 04546 235511

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