Chitrapournami celebrated at Mangaladevi temple

via Pioneer News Service | Idukki published on April 21, 2008

The Mangaladevi temple off Kumily in Idukki district came alive on Monday with the temple opening for prayers and poojas after remaining closed for the past 364 days for celebrating Chitrapournami. The temple, on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, opens only once a year, on the day of Chitrapournami, due to a dispute over ownership between the two States.

Thousands of devotees from both sides of the border offered prayers and participated in the celebrations on Monday. Poojas were held at the temple, and prayers were hymned both in Tamil and Malayalam as was the custom every year. The celebrations at the temple, situated in the forest area coming under the Periyar Tiger Reserve 14 kilometres away from the spice town of Kumili, were held on Monday under the watchful eyes of Forest, Police and Revenue personnel from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The temple would now reopen on the same day next year.

Despite several efforts from officials from both the States, a solution to the dispute over the temple is yet to come out. Devotees from both the States, who had come to offer worship on Monday, said they would visit the temple frequently if there were daily poojas and prayers here. “But it is not happening. I am not sure whether the Governments really wanted to end the dispute,” said Anbazhagan, a devotee from Tamil Nadu.

Devotees took jeeps to cover the 14-km rubble-strewn, difficult jungle road to the temple through neck-high grass, from Kumili. Several devotees covered the distance on foot. They said they considered this as a holy trek they made as an offering to Kannagi, the reining deity of the old temple.

The temple was built by King Cheran Chenguttavan centuries ago. Mangaldevi is believed to be the place where Kannagi, who fled Madurai after burning the city with her anklet, took rest on her way to Kerala. Devotees consider her as goddess of power, determination and unlimited faith. Women offer prayers here for getting long life and prosperity for their men.

The temple structure and its walls are all in a dilapidated state due to decades of neglect in the context of the ownership dispute. The temple is considered as a treasure of architectural samples which could shed light into several aspects of history.

Demand is growing for restoration of the temple in the right way and for protecting its architecture. Rajagopal from Tamil Nadu, a devotee, said there should be efforts from the Archeological Survey of India for deep studies on the temple.

He said several objects of stone art here were being put to the mercy of the elements of nature and thieves and there should be systematic ways to protect the temple.

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