• Less Known Temples of Kerala – 3: Thirunavaya, Trippadam, Hanuman Kshetram

       The three temples  are near one another and can be comfortably covered within two hours. ;    (between kottakkal & kuttipuram on Mangalore  – Cochin rd ‘ 19 km from kadampuza ). Ed visited these temples in June 2011. PS Roads in Kerala have innumerable turns , bends , forks, and junctions. Of course there are no sign boards where you need them. However people are helpful enough.

          Thirunavaya :

        Vishnu Kshetram on the banks of Bharatha Puza. It is approximately 19 Km from Kadampuza. On the bank of the river steps have been built and maintained for convienence of pilgrims. Pitru Karma and kria ceremonies are conducted here, and many who are unable to go to Kashi or Gaya come here. You will also see many ladies performing ‘ tarpanam’, an unusual site, as normally it is the men folk who perform these ceremonies.

    There is a seperate sanctum for Lakshmi. The story goes; when Adi Sankara visited this spot he found that people of the area were arrogant on account of the vast wealth they possessed.  He saw that the reason was living in the vicinity of the idol of Laksmi whose right hand with an open palm facing downwards was below the hip  level. This ensured that any one who prayed to her was showered with wealth, deserving or not. So Adi Sankara prayed to the mother goddess to revert to her normal abhaya hasta, which she did. This ensured that undeserving persons did not get wealth.

    Across the Bharatha puza is a temple for Brahma. However there are no boats or bridge to cross over for a darshan of Brahma.

    Trippadam ;

           Trikanangode ; Siva Ksehtram; Markandeya Moksha Sthalam

    Markandeya was destined to live for only 16 years. When he found his parents sad and unhappy on the last day of life on earth he went to Trikanangode , the abode of Paramasivan, for help. He was chased by Yama dhootas and fled towards the shrine. The AAL  in front of the temple split and gave way and allowed him to pass.

    Markandeya entered the temple premises and in to the sanctum sanctorum and embraced the the Linga and prayed. The Yama dhootas could not enter the area and went to complain to Yama who himself came on the scene and summoned the young lad to come out.  When Markandeya refused Yama who by then had grown angry and frustrated bloated as he was with the power he wielded over all beings, threw the the pasak kayaru at the boy. The noose wrapped around the boy and the the Linga. When Yama pulled the pasam the Siva Linga was displaced and out came Lord Siva himself , angered by the the action of yama who had dared to take away the life of his bhakta.

         It is said he covered the distance to Yama in three steps, and slew him with his trisulam. Then he went to the temple pond and washed away the stains . There is a temple at the original site and the three small temples depicting the three steps taken by Siva, near the present  main temple.

    The main pujas in this temple are : Japa of Mritunjaya Mantram’, Uma Maheswara Puja ‘& Maha Rudra Yagna

    Rama Temple at Alathiyoor

    (12 Km from Tirur)

            It is a temple for Rama but over a period of time Hanuman has gained  pradhanam. There is a separate enclosure for Lakshmana.

         Here one will find a strange looking Hanuman idol, with hands folded and head tilted as if listening carefully. The sthala puranam Rama spoke to Hanuman personally and in confidence and gave him some special signs by which he could identify himself to Sita  as the special dhoota of Rama. He related to Hanuman incidents not known even to Lakshmana, who was standing at a distance. Hanuman with folded hands is listening carefully to Rama. The sight of Hanuman with folded hands and attentive demeanour cannot but bring tears in to ones eyes.

  • Inspiration:The Brave , the dedicated, and the simple ones

    Inspiration.

    A Housewife, A student, an old man, Auto rickshaw men.

    All stories are real. How ordinary people do wonderful things.

    Mother’s plight inspires daughter

    Overcoming Odds, Domestic Help’s Child Scores 96.96% In SSLC Examination

    New Picture (39)Shruthi Balakrishna | TNN

    Bangalore: Sixteen-year-old Jhansi N bravely fought some battles to secure 96.96% in the SSLC exam this year. This soft-spoken teenager scored a stunning 606 out of 625. What makes the story even more remarkable is that this student of Martin Luther English School faced financial difficulties while preparing for the exam.

    Her father Vasu works as a labourer and her mother Dhanalakshmi is a domestic help. Moved by her mother’s plight, this young girl decided to become an acheiver. “When my mother would come home, she’d look so tired. It would hurt me to see her work so hard. If I get a good job, she needn’t struggle like this in future,” she said. Her ambition is to become a cardiologist.

    “I was little disturbed with the financial situation at home, but got over it and focused on studies,” she said.

    She studied continuously for 8-10 hours a day during holidays. “Sometimes, I took breaks in between. I’d go for a walk but then too, I’d try to recall what I’d studied,” she said. As her parents were working, the quiet atmosphere at home helped her concentrate. Scoring centum in Maths was not easy.

    “I found it difficult. I solved a lot of model question papers. I got one mark less for 97%,” she said.

    Interestingly, she didn’t go for tuitions but studied on her own. “I won’t go for tuitions even for II PU. I’ll start preparing for the CET from I PU itself,” Jhansi said.

    Though she doesn’t come from a strong academic background, she managed to excel in the exam. “I studied in a government school in a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. When I came to Bangalore I studied in a government school for Class 8 and 9 where there were no teachers.”
    She loves reading including novels.

    “Charles Dickens is my favourite author,” she said. Jhansi would also participate in co-curricular activities like debates and essay competition. She’s inspired by former President Abdul Kalam and read his book ‘Wings of Fire’.

    “My mother is also my inspiration,” she said, with tears of joy in her eyes.
    If you want to help her,
    contact: 41643680/ 26569193


    Almost 100,

    he has the perfect recipe for a long, healthy life

    New Picture (40)Vijay Singh I TNN

    Mumbai: Watching an active Kashinath Ponde prepare his own tea and sing classical Bhavgeet on a harmonium, one can never guess that this former postmaster is 99 years old.

    Ponde is perhaps the fittest nonagenarian in the country with a razor-sharp memory. He lives alone at his home in Solapur, and regularly travels to Mumbai and Pune to meet his sons and their families.

    On Sunday, Ponde is throwing a bash in Pune to celebrate his 100th birthday. “There will be 200 guests. But there will be no birthday cake or candles, just good wishes and prayers of my loved ones,’’ he smiles. Ponde, who had voted during the first Lok Sabha elections in 1952, still has a clear vision, and can even read fine print without using any lenses.

    “I remember I was posted in Akluj, district Solapur, in 1952 when the first elections took place. But I don’t remember who I voted for then,’’ he says. Over the last 57 years, Ponde has derived very specific conclusions on Indian politics and politicians.

    “Over 90% of politicians today are in it for power, money and prestige; only 5% may be there for desh seva but they’re perhaps not elected,’’ he says.

    Remembering the Indian leaders of his time, Ponde says he has seen stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru at Ahmednagar, Pune and other parts of the state before Independence.

    “I also remember being very impressed by the oratory of Barrister Savarkar (Veer Savarkar) at public meetings in Pune; he had a terrific voice like that of a tiger,’’ he adds.

    Born on May 10, 1910, Ponde completed his matriculation from Society High School in Ahmednagar in 1932. He even worked on farms and looms while schooling and joined the postal department in 1933. For the next 35 years, he was posted in several post offices in various towns and districts in the state. Surprisingly, the grand old man has maintained his weight through a simple yet disciplined vegetarian diet.
    He walks ramrod straight, and even washes his own clothes. The only sign of ageing, perhaps, is that he is a little hard of hearing.

    So what is the secret of his long life? “I used to walk four hours daily till five years ago. Then I cut down on my walking as my doctor-son advised me not to engage in such vigorous activity. I eat vegetarian meals, and my love for music keeps me happy and healthy,’’ he says.
    Ponde’s diet normally consists of a chapati, rice, milk with crushed almonds in it, garlic and a vegetable or two.

    “I never have aerated drinks, and never ever touch tobacco,’’ he asserts. His granddaughter Poonam Ponde, a Pune-based lecturer, says: “He keeps himself updated by reading newspapers, and has not forgotten his hard and frugal childhood. Grandpa still scolds us if we shop new clothes, as he remembers how hard it was to make cloth on a loom as a child nearly a century ago.’’

    PONDE’S POINTERS

    Never touch tobacco

    • Be a vegetarian and have meals on time

    • Walk, whenever you can

    • Work honestly

    • Make music a part of your life

    Green gardener

    In this weekly series, TOI honours the city’s unsung heroes who are doing their bit away from the public glare

    New Picture (41)Anoop Jaipurkar | TNN

    Waste management in the city, like anywhere else in the world, is a critical issue and needs immediate attention of not just the authorities but every responsible citizen. “Brazen neglect has resulted in dumping of tonnes of unsegregated waste at Urali and subsequent rise in pollution followed by falling health standards in the affected villages,” says Lalita Bhave, a banker, who has been creating awareness about waste segregation and decomposition of biodegradable discard for the last 14 years.

    Bhave was always fascinated by greenery. So, she could never assimilate the fact that people need to be told about environment and its conservation. “I grew up in a surrounding where the need for nature and its preservation were imbibed in our psyche. And since my daughters have grown up the same way, I know, they will never feel the need for tutoring. It’s a civic sense,” she says.

    Bhave’s affair with nature continued after marriage as she did a gardening course and started a plants library. Her interest in landscaping took her to a relative’s place where she saw a roof-top garden made by converting household waste into useful manure. “I decided that my terrace would also look the same. It was exactly a year’s effort. Hundreds of people have visited my garden since then.”

    But she’s not the one to bask in self-glory. “The inspiration behind my effort was the desire to minimise the plight of rag-pickers, especially women, who spend most part of the day scurrying through garbage heaps in search of scrap that earns them as little as Rs 50 a day,” says Bhave.
    For the last 20 years, the Bhave family has not let any trash go out of the house. Ask her an estimate of waste she has utilised at her roof-top terrace so far and she calculates it to over 10,000 kg. The city generates an estimated 1,000 tonnes of garbage a day. Imagine how much waste an estimated 6 lakh households of the city can decompose if they follow this simple methodology.
    “Of course, those living in apartments do not have the luxury of maintaining a terrace garden. But the same decomposable waste can be put in flower pots in smaller quantities and leave left-over food for birds. The least one can do is just to segregate the waste. This will do a world of good not just for the municipal corporation but to the thousands of villagers in Urali-Phursungi who have been plagued by this unethical and inhuman dumping since last two decades,” she says. Bhave, who obtained a diploma in conservation of natural resources, has delivered over 150 lectures.

    Recently, she suggested the PMC to formulate a plan so that the biodegradable waste can be dumped on barren land around the city to make it cultivable again.

    Indeed, the ideas sound very simple and reasonable. However, the major stumbling block has been the lack of awareness, and compulsions on part of the civic body. “Segregating waste and recycling it to the extent possible should become a way of life so that we do not have to teach them to the coming generations,” she concludes.

    Creating an oasis IN THE CITY

    This group of autorickshaw drivers works to keep their surroundings green

    New Picture (43)Lakshmi Kumaraswami | TNN

    When you think of autorickshaw drivers, what automatically comes to mind is reckless driving and the endless arguments you have over fares and definitely not green crusaders. But this bunch of auto drivers have been working to green the city for the last one-and-a-half years.
    It is common to find them hard at work on the patch of green on the dull grey pavement outside the Kilpauk Medical Hospital. This group of 25 began planting saplings on the pavement as the area which served as their auto stand became very unhygienic.

    “Some of us have been here for at least 20 years and it was disheartening to see how dirty the place was, especially outside a hospital,” says K Mathivanan, secretary of the auto stand who took the first step in adding greenery to the pavement. S Jagan adds that it was very unpleasant as they were forced them to remain in such surroundings all day.

    A year and half ago, they decided to do something about it. The pavement, which at that time didn’t have concrete but mud, was swept. “We drew out a patch of the pavement and replaced the mud with soil. We then brought in some saplings,” says M Hamsa. Initially, they were planting crotons and spinach but eventually moved on to jasmine, guava and karpuravalli (belonging to the mint family).

    “We also nurtured a banana plant and some creepers that grow along the hospital’s wall,” Mathivanan says, pointing to the green vines scaling the compound.

    They source their plants on their daily journeys as and when they see them. “We buy around two plants a month and try to have a variety,” says Ravi Kumar. The group has planted over 50 plants and take it in turns to water the patch. “Maintaining it can be quite difficult as people pluck leaves and even spit in the area.

    It is very frustrating because after all the effort we have taken we want the place to look nice,” says T Sekar. They hope to erect a plastic fence shortly but are yet to raise funds. “As autorickshaw drivers we don’t earn much, so we try to put in whatever we can, be it Rs 10 or more,” says Mathivanan.

    Since they started planting saplings, things at the auto stand have never looked better. In fact, an actual pavement has also been built around the green patch. “It feels good when the doctors compliment our work,” says Hamsa. W Santosh adds that these comments encourage them to nurture their patch of green.

    “We plan to do this as long as we are here and will try to work on other dry patches in the area as well. After all, Kilpauk has given us so much. We would like to do our bit for the society by keeping the area clean and green,” says Mathivanan.
    lakshmi.kumaraswami@timesgroup.com

  • Sikhs in Pakistan forced to pay Jizia

    Heading back to the days of Mohammad Gazani, Ghori and Aurangzeb?

    Sikhs pay Rs 20m as ‘tax’ to Taliban


    Islamabad: Members of Pakistan’s Sikh community living in the Aurakzai tribal region have paid Rs 20 million as “tax” to the Taliban after militants forcibly occupied some of their homes and kidnapped a Sikh leader.

    The Taliban had demanded Rs 50 million as ‘jizia’ — a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule — but the militants finally settled for Rs 20 million.

    After the amount was paid, the militants vacated the homes they had taken over and released Sikh leader Saiwang Singh, officials in the tribal region were quoted by a newspaper. The officials said the Taliban had announced that the Sikhs were now free to live anywhere in Aurzakzai Agency.

    The militants also announced they would protect the community, saying that no one would harm them after they had paid jizia. Sikhs who had left the area would now return to their homes and resume their business, the officials said.

    The militants had occupied at least 10 homes of Sikhs in Qasimkhel village on Tuesday. About 35 Sikh families have been living in Qasimkhel for many years.

    The Taliban demand for jizia was resolved at a jirga or council held on Wednesday through the efforts of local tribal elders. The militants had said the Sikhs should pay jizia in accordance with Sharia or Islamic law. PTI

  • Under trials : stuck in prison, despite getting bail

    new-picture-32

    A matter of great shame. Judicial processes are teriibly slow and convoluted. It benefits the criminal wonderfully.  Innocents especially the poor are always at the receiving end.

    Over 40 undertrials stuck in prison, despite getting bail

    They Can’t Walk Free As They Have None

    To Stand Surety For Them

    A Subramani | TNN

    Chennai: That any arrested person is entitled to walk out of jail once he obtains bail and furnishes surety to the satisfaction of a magistrate, is common knowledge.

    But do you know that more than 40 persons are languishing at Puzhal Central Prison-II though they have got bail but are unable to find persons to stand surety for them? Also, do you know that one such less-privileged prisoner — P Muthu of Kumananchavadi near Poonamallee — died of cancer after remaining in prison for nearly three years?

    While Muthu and at least 43 others remained behind bars because they had no one to stand surety for them, 91 others are in Puzhal-II for more than a year as the police concerned had not filed a chargesheet as yet.

    “Most of them are petty offenders, and are ready to plead guilty. Even if convicted, they would be sentenced only for a few months. But, unless the police file a chargesheet, the magistrate cannot dispose of the matter,” said a prison official. “Delaying chargesheet is a way of delaying their release,” he added.

    Puzhal Prison-II has 116 inmates who are in jail for more than 90 days but less than one year. There are 43 others who are staying in jail between 60 days and 90 days. “In regular crimes, if the police fail to lay chargesheet in 60 days, the accused could avail the statutory bail benefit and walk out of jail,” said special public prosecutor for human rights cases, V Kannadasan.

    The Puzhal-II is home to about a dozen inmates facing charges under Section 75 (public nuisance) of City Police Act and Section 7(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. They are inside for periods ranging 3-4 months, in spite of the fact that if convicted they would be sentenced to serve only a couple of weeks in jail.

    “Personal liberty is the most sacred of all fundamental rights,” said Kannadasan, adding, “prison authorities cannot be blamed for this sorry state of affairs.” He said that the data itself was being compiled only as per the directions of the director-general of police (prisons) R Natraj, to be sent to the legal services authority for redressal.

    Even in the case of Muthu, the prison authorities took note of his poor health condition and forwarded his request to be sent out on own bond to the jurisdictional court. As there was no response either from the court or from legal aid authorities, he was admitted in the Government Royapettah Hospital in February 2009. Till his death on April 9, he did not get any help, lament prison staff.

    He was arrested by the Poonamallee police on charges of preparing to commit robbery (crime no. 735/2006) in 2006, ahead of the assembly elections. “His three-year incarceration was meaningful in one sense. It exposed the insensitivity of the judiciary and ineffectiveness of the legal aid system,” said Kannadasan.