Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Badrakali Amman Temple, Sivakasi, Virudhunagar

Badrakali Amman Temple, Sivakasi, Virudhunagar
Badrakali Amman Temple in Sivakasi, a town in Virudhunagar district in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Badrakali. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is believed to have been built during the 18th century with later expansion during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The temple has a five-tiered gopuram, the gateway tower and a granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple is open from 6am - 12 pm and 5 - 8:30 pm on all days except during new moon days when it is open the full day. Four daily rituals and many yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which Panguni Pongal and Chithirai Pongal festivals being the most prominent.

Bhadrakali (simply "Kali"), a Hindu goddess popular in Southern India is one of the fierce forms of the Great Goddess (Devi) mentioned in the Devi Mahatmayam. In Kerala and in West Bengal Kali worship is common among the Hindus and there are popular festivals associated with Kali. She is known as Sri Bhadrakali and Kariam Kali Murti Devi in Kerala who is believed to be the protector of the good. 

Regarding her avatar, there are more than 3 versions seen in some Puranas. Among them, the popular one is Lord Shiva created Kali to kill the demon Daruka who got a boon of invincibility and immortality and nobody could kill him. Intoxicated with this mystic power, he committed all kinds of atrocities that tested the patience of the celestial and demigods. The demon was forced to confront Kali and at last was slain in a tough battle. In the wake of her victory over the demon goddess Kali was in uncontrollable rage.

When Lord Shiva came to know about it, he was tempted to calm her wrath by dancing before her and offering her worship. Then, she became subdued. It is believed in Kerala, worship of Bhadrakali is associated with the practitioners of Kalarippayattu, a traditional martial arts form and the belief has been that she protects them when facing danger. 

During the 1800s, Nadars, then aspiring business community, established their commercial base in the town. By the end of the 19th century, the Nadars’ rapid rise as a business community leads to confrontation with the Maravars. The Nadars were holding the ownership of the Badrakali temple and other smaller shrines in the north of the town. The Nadars were denied entry to the Kasi Viswanathar temple and when they tried to enter in 1899, it led to a series of riots which became to be known as the Sivakasi riots.

The Badrakali temple was closed for a number of days during the riots and the festivals were cancelled. A total of 22 people were killed, as many as 800 houses and big chariot in center of the city used by temple during festival were burnt during the riots. Eventually the riots came to an end after the intervention of the military in mid-July 1899.

Badrakali is a fierce manifestation of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Badrakali Amman temple is the most prominent landmark of Sivakasi. The tower or Rajagopuram of this temple has a breadth of 66 ft. (20 m), width of 44 ft. (13 m) and a height of 110 ft. (34 m). Unlike other temples, the gopuram is not in axial direction towards the sanctum. The presiding deity, Badrakali Amman, is housed in a west facing sanctum to the left of the gateway tower in a seated posture. The vimana of the shrine is plated with gold.

This goddess is portrayed as fierce-looking with three eyes, and four, twelve, or eighteen hands. She carries a number of weapons, with flames flowing from her head, and a small tusk protruding from her mouth. In many places, in particular in Kerala, her worship is also closely associated with the Tantric tradition being followed normally by the Matrikas - people who practice witchcraft. Kali worship represents the tradition of the ten Mahavidyas that come under the broader spectrum of Shaktism. 

There is a large temple tank and a bell tower located axial to the sanctum. There is a shrine of Heramba Vinayaka, a fierce manifestation of Vinayaka with five heads. Usually the manifestation is sported with lion as his vehicle obtained from his mother Parvathi. In this temple, he is sported with his bandicoot vehicle. There are shrines of eight forms of Parvathi in a shrine around the sanctum. There are smaller shrines of other deities like AyyappaMurugan and Agora Murthy located adjacent to the temple tank.

The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. There are weekly, monthly and fortnightly rituals performed in the temple. The temple is open from 6 am - 12 pm and 5 - 8:30 pm on all days except during new moon days when it is open the full day. Panguni Pongal and Chithirai Pongal are the annual festivals celebrated for the deities Mariamman and Badrakali Amman in April and May respectively, both of which are celebrated for ten days.
The Tamilnadu State Transport Corporation operates daily services connecting various cities to Sivakasi. The State Express Transport Corporation operates long distance buses connecting the town to important cities like ChennaiTiruppur and Thoothukudi. The major intercity bus routes from the town are to cities like Madurai, Chennai, Nagercoil, Erode, Karur, Coimbatore, Salem, Karaikudi, Dindigul, Trichy, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Velankanni, Sankarankovil, Senkottai, Rajapalayam, Tenkasi, Kovilpatti, Thoothukudi, Thiruchendur and Tirunelveli.
Sivakasi Railway Station is located in the rail head from Madurai to Senkottai. It connects Tamilnadu with Kerala through Rajapalayam and Senkottai. The Podhigai Express connects Sivakasi to Senkottai and Chennai Egmore in either direction. All other express trains ply from Virudunagar station. There are also passenger trains running either side from Madurai to Shenkottai. Madurai Airport is located at about 61 kms away from Sivakasi.

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