Matrimandir – Auroville, Pondicherry

Photo credits : Binu Kumar

Photo credits: Binu Kumar

The spectacular Matrimandir (meaning “Temple of the Mother” in Sanskrit) can be found in Auroville, Pondicherry, India. The Matrimandir can’t be called a temple in the typical sense of the word. It isn’t a church or other place of worship, nor is it strongly associated with any religions. It is, instead, envisioned as a place of spiritual energy. The Matrimandir appears as a large golden sphere that seems to be rising out of the earth. Continue reading

Rudraksha Prayer Beads

Photo credits : Shymon

Photo credits: Shymon

Seeds from the rudraksha tree have been traditionally used as Hindu prayer beads. The rudaksha tree’s name means the “eyes of Lord Shiva,” rudra being another name for Lord Shiva. Mythology has it that the rudraksha plant was born out of Lord Shiva’s tear drops. Monks and yogis have found that merely wearing beads from the rudraksha tree imparts an astonishing tranquility to the wearer. Continue reading

Varadharaja Perumal Temple – Tamil Nadu

Photo credits : Renuka Menon

Photo credits: Renuka Menon

Varadharaja Perumal temple is situated in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. This temple was originally built by the Cholas, one of India’s great dynasties, in 1053. The main deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu. One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted from a single stone. Continue reading

Sapthaha Yagnam – Temple Festival

Photo credits : Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo credits: Ramesh Kidangoo

Sapthaha Yagnam is among eighteen ancient puranas (stories) that are still told today, and one of the most important in the Srimat Bhagavatha Purana (Holy Book of Hindu), which deals with Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna temples host a ritualistic event of intense tradition in which this text is read. Continue reading

Sabarimala Festival

Lord Ayyappa

Lord Ayyappa

Sabarimala Temple is one of the most important pilgrim centres in India. Every year, lakhs of devotees throng this holy shrine situated amidst the thick forest of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Pilgrims have to undertake 41 days vritham (penance) consisting of strict celibacy. Females between the age of 10 and 50 are not permitted in the shrine. Continue reading

Vavar Mosque – Erumely, Kerala

Photo credits : Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo credit: Ramesh Kidangoor

Revered by both Hindus and Muslims, the town of Erumely is famous for the Vavar Mosque as well as the Sastha Temple. The Ritual of Petta Thullal during the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage  is a unique feature of this place. Pilgrims who visit the temple consider it their sacred duty to offer donation to a representative of the Vavar Mosque. The reason for this devotion is that Vavar was considered to be a contemporary and friend of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala Temple. Continue reading

Mahashivratri Festival – Attappadi

Photo credits: Ranjith

Photo credits: Ranjith

Attappadi is situated in the northeast part of Palakkad district, and is a stunning forest that is mainly inhabited by local tribes. The Malleshwarn peak of Attappadi is worshiped as a huge Shivalinga, the symbolic connection between male and female forces, by these tribes. They celebrate the festival of Shivratri with fanfare on the hill, by illuminating the top of this peak. Continue reading

Karkidakam – Ramayana Masam

Reciting Holy Book Ramayana

Reciting the Holy Book of Ramayana

Karkidakam is the last month in the Malayalam calendar, which this year falls between 17th July and 16th August on the Western calendar. Historically the southwest monsoon is bringing chilling torrential rain during this period. In Kerala every observant Hindu family recites the Holy Book of Ramayana in homes and temples during this time, making Karkidakam popularly known as Ramayana Masam. Continue reading

Kalamezhuthu (Floor drawings)

Photo credits: Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo credits: Ramesh Kidangoor

Kalamezhuthu is the art of creating very large pictures on the floor, and is a unique form of art found only in Kerala.  Typically, Kalamezhuthu is conducted as part of the general festivals in temples. The patterns that are drawn and the colors that are used are traditionally stipulated.  Additionally, the colored powders used for the Kalams (drawings) are prepared solely from natural products.  Kalams are drawn in connection with the worship of Gods and Goddesses, and are drawn directly with the hands.  No tools are ever used.   Continue reading

Snake Worship

Photo Credits: Ramesh Kidngoor

Photo Credits: Ramesh Kidngoor

The origin of snake worship goes way back in history in many parts of India, but only in Kerala is it such a living tradition. In earlier times, in almost every Hindu household the southwest corner of the compound was set apart for a shrine called sarpakavu as the propitiation of the serpent god was considered essential to the wellbeing of the family. There are several legends associated with snake worship; it is believed that soon after Parasurama created Kerala the land with thick forests was inhabited by poisonous snakes. It is believed that people believed they could appease them through worship. Continue reading

Pooja – Hindu Worship

Photo Credits:Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo Credits:Ramesh Kidangoor

The Hindu view of the universe is a cyclical one and the complex theme of Hindu mythology is dominated by the constant conflict between good and evil. Pooja is a ritualistic worship performed by Hindus as an offerings to various Gods and Goddess. It is an act of showing reverence  through invocations, prayers, songs and rituals. Pooja can be performed in different ways like through meditation, chanting mantras, and offering flowers and fruits. Poojas are regularly performed in Hindu homes, irrespective of caste or status. Continue reading