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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Chotanikkara temple

 Chotanikkara Temple
Chotanikara  Bhagavathy temple is one of the famous Devi temples of central kerala situated around 30 km from Ernakulam city .
Its just around 10 km drive from where my house   .
A temple with several legends and a very popular one too .
During Sabarimala season as this forms part of pilgrim circuit it is very crowded .

Bhagavathi or Devi is supposed to be in three forms here one in resplendent white dress as a fount of learning and creatitvity blessing devotees with intelligence the  Godess Saraswathi in the mornings .

As crimson adorned Mahalakshmi the Godess of wealth at noon ,and
 blue attired Sree Durga the Godess of power in the evening .

The temple is an example of ancient temple architecture of Vishwakarma .

It was once admidst dense forests when it was built with several tales to its origin .

One talks of a tribal devoted to the Godess who used to sacrifice an young calf as his offering every day but  he loses his beloved daughter as a punishment for the sin of seperating calves from thier mother cows and regrets his actions ,while searching for his daughters corpse in the forest he comes across two divine stones one is Vishnu and other Devi .
Kanappan the tribal prays to the stones every day to forgive his sins .later after his death for years they lie in the forest forgotten till a grasscutter  attempts to sharpen his knives they bleed so later a temple is built there which is Chitanikara temple .
Another story talks of Adi Sankara who in his travels pleads to mother Godess in Chamundi hills to come to kerala as there was no temple to the Godess there .
The supreme mother tells she would follow  him but he should not be tempted to look back to see if she is following him .
Adi sankara agrees walks all way from Mooghambika in kodajadri hills  listening to silver anklet of Godess tinkling .
At one time not hearing sound he sneaks a look back and Godess says since he broke promise she would stay there in Moogambika .
Adi sankara pleads with her to reconsider her decision ,impressed by his sincere devotion the mother tells him that she would be in kerala at dawn in white and would return back to mookambika by noon
Thats why chotanikara temple opens at early dawn a bit earlier than mookambika .

The temple on a small hillock has a gradual  descent into a kali or fierce form of Godess Durga in the Keezkaavu which was supposed to have been built later when swami vilvamangalam found the idol in the temple pond .
The keezkaavu is associated with cure of mental illnesses and many devotees who believe in this stay here for days to pray as penance .
The trees inside have strands of thier hair nailed on them as a belief that thier sickness is nailed to tree .
Faith and belief may have strong placebo effects these are medically proven too .
One of the most famous days here is the magam thozhal when the Godess is given a ritualistic bath in temple pond later taken in seven caprisoned elephants into poora parambhu with Sastha as escort where she stays till 11 am .
At 2 pm she is dressed in her best with jewelery ,arms ,sanghu  puspham  ,and gives a befitting visual spectactle blessing those able to see her form into eternal bliss .

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thrissur pooram

Thrissur pooram
Raja R ama varma thampuran or famously known Shaktan thampuran wouldnt have dreamed his revenge would decimate his avengers.
Iam talking of the Thrissur pooram in Kerala
Thrissur the cultural capital of Gods own country is a quaint town of temples ,lovers of elephants ,pageantery ,abd the rhythm of drums .
Way back the temples of Thrissur sent thier teams to Aaratupuzha festival to participate as what then was the most famous temple festival in Kerala .

Once the Thrissur delegates reached late and were derogatively dismissed from participation by the authorities with thier pleas ignored.

A furious Rama varma created Thrissur pooram in 1798 as an answer and today Thrissur pooram is the king of all temple festivals in kerala ..
Shaktan thampuran divided the temples of Thrissur into two groups of five temples each headed by paramekkaavu Bhagavathy temple and Thiruvambady Vishnu temple .
The two groups of  temples  would have a healthy competition under the benign gaze of lord Shiva in Vadakunathan temple in the  vast Thekinkaadu maidan or yesteryear teak  forested grounds but today occupying the center of Thrissur like central park of New York with the Swaraj round going arounf its hillocked eminience .
The festival starts with flag hoisting in day seven
On day 4 there is a fireworks preview called sample vedikettu running for an hour .
This would show what is planned for the D day of pooram on its morrow at 3 am .

The festival would begin with the slow progress of individual processions from each temple at dawn to reach the maidan .
Kaniamangalam sastha temple would start the day .
The ten temples would reach vadakunnadan temple by forenoon to huge crowds waiting in the scorching sun go into temple after maadathil varavu  to pay obeisance to lord Siva come out to arraign themselves in two groups in the ground .

There are two important percussion competitions that take place in maadathil varavu where the tradtional drum ensemble unique to kerala show thier prowess .
The ilanjithara orchestration is a more subtle highly valued show of connouiussuer rhythm professionals who show thier skills under the shade of ilanji tree inside Vadakunathan temple led by doyens in the two teams .
The slow cadence of beats in orchestred symphony tuned in the mathematics of pulsating rhythm rise to a  crescendo of musical sounds and later fall gently into a strummer of beats and then to rise in its frenzy all in the measured tones of developed  art much enjoyed by hordes of its fans who would die to listen to this annual spectacle unsurpassed .

The artistes who lead the orchestras of panchavadyam pandimelam etc like peruvanam kuttan marar and kizakootu Aniyan marar are greatly respected artistes with huge fan followings and much feted for thier skills .
They lead more than 200 artistes on different types of drums ,cymbals,wind instruments etc who create a genre of music never ever heard elsewhere .

Now starts the greatest spectacle in kerala
A total of 50 elephants on both sides stand facing each other and accompanied to the beats of the drums start thier competition show of elephant acourments magnificient kudamattoms or umbrella shows venchaamaroms ,or fluffy fans made of yak wool ,aalavatoms or peacock feather fans nettpattoms or elephant forehead decorations .
Every change alternatively by the two groups are cheered by thier supportersabd the frenzied but disciplined crowds go into joy and esctacy as they absorb the sight to be discussed on its merits for an year till te next pooram .
The creations are exhibited from day four of festival in two venues for oeople to get  a patient view to judge .
The firework display at dawn would last more than an hour its deafening sounds heard for large distances it brilliant colourful pyrotechnics unrivalled and again as a healthy competition of the two groups of Thiruvambady and paramekkaavu .
The fireworks would bring the curtain half closed as a happy tired crowd of locals retire for  a short rest to come back the next day for the pagal pooram or day festival on its end they bid farewell to friends and families who would have come from far and wide to be part of the annual spectacle lasting a week .
Thrissur pooram is really something different from any temple festival in india and today is symbolic of kerala itself .
Its participation is beyond religion or caste and is a great example of true secularism existing among its people
By traditon the christian and muslim sections of Thrissur have important roles in the festival and they are all part of the inspired crowds in Thekkinkaadumaidan on pooram day .
There are other dance events like pulikalli etc that follows as part of Thrissur pooram .

Monday, April 16, 2018


When u see the vishukkani, pl keep the following symbolism in mind. It is the day on which sun enters in to the first segment of the Zodiac circle,which is called  Medam raashi in Malayalam.This is the transit period of a season in Kerala. The auspicious day to commence agriculture and farming. Similarly after vishukani, have a feesh mind, fresh thought, fresh investment with the coin you receive as vishukainettam from your father. Do you remember, that the very  first coin of wealth u received from your father which is the first capital investment in your life.The wealth you earned till date is the multiple of your first vishukainettan filled the love and blessings of your father. Pithrudevo Bhava....
Watch the symbols of  each item  in the vishukani, as under:-

1. Idol of krishna....Godliness of the mind.

2. Mirror....your own reflection i.e. jeevatma
3. otturuli...The round universe
4, Rice....Good thoughts
5. Other cereals....earnings and Progress in life.
6. Fruits...Good results
7. Konnaflowers...The ormament of God
8. Cucumber..The fresh and clean mind
9. Gold.....Aiswaryalakshmi
10. White cloth...Symbol of white dressed Devi..
11. Coins....Dhanalaxmi
12. Book...Knowledge
13. Broken coconuts....Devotion with concentration
14.betel leaves...Mangalam & Guru dakshina
15. Kunkuman & kanmashi.. Mangalyam
16. Nilavilakku...The glowing life  in Your soul
17. Water.. the basis of living things on the earth.

Watch the Vishukani.. Not just see it. Happy vishu to all.

Friday, March 30, 2018

little blue pill

20 years back Pfizer the multinational pharmaceuticals hit a jackpot
Serendipity selects its rewards with no criterions but pure luck.
The chemical molecule called Sildenafil citrate was one of the several research molecules in the pipeline for Pfizer.
Millions of dollars are spent on three or more phases of meticulous laborious long clinical trials of several molecules by these companies with deep long pockets and one in say ten could
 be accepted one in hundred can make profit but only one in a million should hit the jackpot .
Sildenafil was more intended for pulmonary hypertension chronic lung and cardiac failures as it dilated blood vessels increasing vascularity and oxygenation and better cardiac output.
Now dilatation of blood vessels in male sexual organ produces erection and this was a side effect only but then this was something desired by the male population for aeons as a fantasy need and also by the female population depressed and dejected by universal flaccidity.
All the mumbo jumbo herbs ,amulets ,mantras ,grandmas cures concocted, conning medicines made more money to its makers instead of raising the spirits and organs of the men who swallowed them 
And then comes this short sweet potent dynamite raising dead objects in perfect salutes 
Suddenly Pfizer knew it was going to shake the world nay raise the worlds nether masculine regions and thus bring in zillions of dollars .
The little blue tablet Viagra became just that.
Urologist’s pulmonologists who generally prescribed them became as popular as film stars 
After all it was non biblical resurrection of faded hopes.
Actually India brought a slew of over counter ones with names like
this was a misnomer as cant associate erection to cadavers can we ?
Maybe they meant even raise the dead’s .
And thus two decades has passed since countless homes had bouncing beds
Invigorated spirits maybe thousands of toddlers populated the earth due to those pills
God himself should have wondered if Pfizer was competition

Monday, March 26, 2018



Mattancherry in Cochin was and is a cauldron of variety .
It has history in its very dust .
From Gowda saraswat brahmins fleeing from cruel  invaders like Tipu sultan to jews doing the same from universal persecution the tiny royal kingdom of Cochin was filled woth pockets of these communities .
The last of the jew having left to the promised land we still have a big number of konkanis .
Muslim colonies rising from migration and conversions
 tamil brahmins who migrated from tamilnadu in search of jobs .
Gujuratis Rajasthanis mostly jains who came to conquer the trade in the narrow streets of Cochin
A small group of Marathi brahmins .
All of them spoke a medley of languages had an array of tradition customs and living style that it added beauty to its rich tapestry .

The picture shows the  Dutch palace which strangely was  presented by the  Portugese  to the Maharaja of Cochin
Later renovated by the Dutch 
The Dutch palace has a qauint temple of the royal family and a temple in its opposite side .

The turrets of the famous Jewish synagogue are seen reflected in the sunlight

When we came to cochin in 1987 we stayed for a year in Mattancherry .
Everything was available from fresh fruits vegetables stationary grocery excellent vegetarian restaurants the very famous Rehmaniya restaurant with its celebrity chef founder kaayikaan .
I remember the small neat hotel filled to brim
We used to buy parcel as eating there was a bit crowded .
Kaayikaan himself stood shirtless like a pillar taking the orders and instructing his waiters to get them fast .
The air had an aroma of fine biriyani not available anywhere
Years later his children would start an upmatket version in downtown Ernakulam but that would not come near the kaayikkaan original .
There also was a humble homely veg restaurant where its one waiter chef owner took orders made the dosa and served you with elan and it tasted divine .
Many offices godowns were in mattancherry and it was very busy
Nearby Fort cochin sold frolicking fresh fish pulled in chinese nets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Abdullah is a grabdfather though not very old
Hes more known as uncle .
Hes the all time help available in our medical oncology OP.
Abdullah is always smiling ready to do any job people ask  him to .
I had never seen him angry or depressed  in thesefive years iam here .
Heshard working active always on move guy .
Hes a good friend to me .

Boatman Md Syedi

Mohammed Sayidi is my friend
I always call him when i take people for Brunei river cruise in motor boat .
He not only knows right spots to see the proboscis monkeys he takes us around in a relaxed way at oppurtune time and place for fotos hes safe intresting conversationist and ends with a water tour of kampong ayer water village
I would recommed Mohammed to anyone
Just ask for him in the jetty

Proboscis monkey

The Proboscis monkey (nasalis larvatus )is a rare dwindling speices of monkey found in mangrove forests in Borneo island which is north of Singapore.
Borneo island is a huge rainforest island in eqautorial waters .
Large swathes of forested Indonesia some parts of Malaysia of Sabah Sarawak states and the small  country of oil rich Brunei .
If one goes in a motor boat in Brunei river from yayasan jetty in downtown Bandar to the not very far mangrove forests one can see them on tree tops .
Best time is morning and evening when they come out to feed .
During the hot humid daytime they probably rest .
They are so named because of the fleshy long nose shaped like a proboscis which incidentally is an antennae nosy as your neighbour .
They have a large compartmentalised stomach with cellulose lined cavities in order to digest tge 95 % leafy diets .
Hence most have huge bellies
The posterior is red with a long thich tail .
They grow in 4 years live upto 20 years .
Our boatman took us to two good places sort of enclaves into mangroves cut the engine
The eerie silence of the jungle was only disturbed by the calls of a bird the flutter of wings of migratory birds the swish of something slimy and swift in the dark waters a scurry of a squirrel on a tree and then we saw them perched on top of trees eating the leaves like gluttons .
The first foto is from net tks
Rest by me the best i could take .
On return we went through the famous Kampong Ayer or water village with houses hospitals police statikn schools mosques and fire tenders .
And thus i sighted my last proboscis monkey in Brunei

Friday, March 09, 2018

Music Therapy

Good music has always been known to touch the soul .
Its proved by some that plants grow well,cows yield more milk and pregnant women listening to soulful music have a benifit to thier infants .

Music is said to change climates certain ragas sung with emotion even bring rains .
Its also known music helps in healing

But saying all this to me music is complementary to treatment and not a substitute .

Singer Yesudas is a great believer in musics influence to good health

And so it was in 2002 or so when working in Lakeshore hospital Kochi in medical oncology with the team of Dr V.P.Gangadharan I wanted to try it with patients undergoing chemotheraphy .
Generally they go through a lot of side effects like nausea vomitting loss of appetite lack of sleep pain etc though these days they are much less with good medications .
So with the nod of Dr VPG  who arranged for a good audio set to be installed .
I got old hindi malayalam songs from my CD collection .
One of our patients with gastric ca who had completed treatment had presented me with his singing in a CD as he was a singer
I used that too .
The volume was low and we switched off TV in the hall .
Most patients i found preferred old malayalam songs as they knew it well .
After a month or so i did a questionarre survey and found most felt less stressed with less symptoms .
Though it wasnt a serious study i did present it in national conference in palliative care in Tata cancer centre Mumbai .
But people shouldnt take it that music alone will heal
It helps for the medicine to be effective too

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