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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Madayi kaavu

Madayi Kavu
Was one of the temples we visited near Kannur
Details copied from Wikipedia ..
Pictures mine
Thiruvarkadu Bhagavathi Temple (a.k.a. Madayi Kavu) is the mother temple of all Bhadrakali shrines of North Kerala. The deity is the Fierce form of Bhadrakali. The Bhagavathy is addressed by tantrics in the vicinity as Tiruvarkkad Achchi due to this. The temple administration is Malabar Devaswom Board. The temple is a revered shrine of Chirakkal Royal Family and a shrine of Chirakkal devaswom before. The temple is situated in Madayi, Payangadi, hence prominently known as Madayi Kavu.
The Arayal Thara in front of Tiruvarkad Bhagavathy Temple (Madayi Kavu). Arayal in Malayalam is synonymous to Bodhi Tree or Pippallam
The temple is addressed as Thiruvarkkadu Bhagavathy,
Thiruvar-in proto-Tamil-Manipravalam is used to address Shiva of the shrine, i.e. The most respectable one. The temple architecture of some shrines in the region shows how the Goddess is perceived in the region. The temples such as Annapoorneshwari temple and Madayikkavu has strong Brahminic influence. The Brahmin women in ancient time, were not allowed to show their faces in the sit-out, they were mostly inside their home and was addressed as Andarjanam by Kerala Brahmins. The Goddess is considered as Brahmin Mother and hence do not face the temple entrance gate, her sanctum is inside the shrine; the sanctum that one can see while entering from the front entrance is of Shiva (also due to the tantric temple architecture Rurujith Vidhanam) and in Annapoorneshwari Temple it is Krishna's shrine in the front entrance. So the temple is known by the name of Shiva rather than the Goddess. Tiruvarkaadu means The forest of the Lord.
There are different folklore about the origin of the temple. One of the legend says, The Bhagavathy, Madayikkavilamma was residing in the Rajarajeshwara Temple. But, as she was non-vegetarian she could not exist in the Shiva temple. She ordered the then King of that region to construct a separate shrine for her.
Saraswathi Mandapam
In another legend, long ago Madayi was troubled by a demon Darika and Madayikavilamma killed him and requested Shiva to enshrine in a temple near him. Lord Shiva ordered his disciple Parashuram to consecrate a shrine for the Shakti. Parashurama created the Madayippara and the Holy shrine on it.[3] The shrine is considered the last resort for the removal of Occult Sorcery(Black Magic and Witchcraft).
There used to be a "strothasamuchayam" known as "panchasthavi" in Kashmir province. There were Laghustuthi, ghatasthi, charchasthuthi, Ambasthuthi, sakalajananeestuthi. These five came unbder "sreevidyasambrathaaya" which stipulates like Aanavopayam, Saakthopayam, saambhavopayam, anupoyam etc. These were practiced by the Bhattakaaras of kashmir. One of the Bhattakarar travelled from kashmir towards south and he has built 13 temples of saakthyaaradhana. they are from north starting from mannampurath kavu of Neeleswaram, Thiruvarkkattu kavu or Madaayi kavum, Kalarivathulkkavu of Valapattanam, Mamanikkunnu kavu near Mattannur, Thiruvancheri kkavu near Koothuparambu, Kaliyam kavu near edacheri of Vadakara, Koyilandi kollam pisharikkavu, thiruvalayanaadu kavu of Kozhikode, Modikkunnathu kavu near Pattambi, Thirumandamkunnu kavu of Angadipurath, Kodungallurkkavu, Muthoot kavu of Thiruvalla, Panayannar kavu of Mannar near thiruvalla.
The Pradanmar or the Brahmins performed the poojas came from Kashmir and they practiced Saaktheya pujas, which is practiced here at Madaayikkavu/
During the incursion of Hyder Ali into Malabar, Circa 1780, Madayi Kavu was desecrated with the entrails of slaughtered cattle, following which a local Nair warrior named Vengayil Chathukutty beheaded the miscreant responsible for the act, delivering the severed head to temple authorities. Thereby the Nair family of Vengayil received the title of Nayanar.[4]
Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (Head Priest) of the shrine. Kattumadom is one of the 4 major Mantravada clan of Brahmin families in Kerala.[5] The priests at the temple belong to the Podavar Brahmin community which allows meat and alcohol consumption.
The temple rites are in Koula sampradaya. The ability to control Ashtapaashas (eight chains) – ghrina (hatred), lajjaa (shame), bhaya (fear), shanka (doubt), jugupsa (reproach), kula (caste), jaati (creed) and sheela (modesty) – is key for meditation especially in Koula Sampradaya. If a devotee is able to control these, the Bhagavathy raises our[who?] consciousness to Shivam.[6] The major festival of the temple is Pooram in March. There are also festivals in the Malayalam months of Thulam, Vrishchikam and Makaram in addition to the Pooram in Meenam. The Perumkaliyattam is in the Malayalam month of Idavam.[7] The temple is also associated with the Bhadrakali temple of Mannanpurathu Kavu (Nileshwaram) and Vadukunnu Shiva Temple.
The Shiva shrine faces east, while the Bhadrakali shrine faces towards the west. The priests at the temple even though Brahmins are not Namboothiris, they are Pidarar Brahmins, belong to a particular sect associated with Kali worship, and are not barred from consumption of meat. A particular aspect of the temple is Kozhi Kalasham, which is the sacrifice of poultry for the goddess which is held in high regard.

cancer treatment

Cancer treatment in India
From an international perspective as having worked in premier oncology centers outside India I can sum up in one sentence that we Indians are lucky to have centers and skilled professionals in oncology compared to many other countries specially so in Kerala
The cost of cancer treatment is prohibitive the world over
The reason for this is modern medicine is evidence based, every single drug to get an approval takes long years and has to go through rigorous trials based on scientific principles and have to be accepted by bodies like the FDA etc which are later accepted the world over ,
this makes it extremely costly as the medical companies who have invested In research for the molecule needs to get back their investments with profit the cost skyrockets .
Nonprofit and government managed research centers and universities also contribute their mite but the process is lengthy, costly and exhausting.
Patency rules prevent substitution of these molecules for cheaper versions though India so far has been getting away with this in the international market for eg when the breakthrough for Chronic myeloid leukemia TKI inhibitor and targeted agent Imatinib Mesylate came into being with the Times magazine calling it as the magic bullet for Cancer as a breakthrough in cancer treatment .
It produced amazing results in CML though the drug was very costly and then an Indian company Natco created a cheaper version which was more cost productive, with the newer drug policy which the Government is forced to accept these days if it wants to be an international player the cost of cancer drugs can rise abominably and one cannot accuse the government without knowing the intricacies of world trade complexities .
Cancer treatment in India is much cheaper compared to anywhere in the world
Still my point here is how much cheaper drugs used in cancer is in India when compared to the rest of the world
Similarly India today charges the lowest for surgeries, investigations like PET scans or for bone marrow transplants etc
Most of the countries around the world charges 10 to 50 times what is charged in India and this also shows how much potential India has for medical tourism if supported by proper infrastructure and awareness.
Just like in space industry we do it the cheapest with equally good results
The palliative care network in India especially in Kerala is something way ahead of many other countries in the world even in developed countries
Economics of cancer treatment and its burden
Still it is a blow to many families to be spending such huge amounts for a relatively long period as cancer treatment can go on for long in many cases
This is where projects like Sukrutham if done well will help people below poverty line as the government needs to take care of this group
For upper middle class and richer people there should be insurance schemes designed to cover cancer and people should also be made aware of taking medical insurances just like they do for their automobiles etc ,this would help in a big way in the unfortunate instance of their getting cancer
Employee insurance covering cancer should also be instituted mandatorily
Guidelines of Treatment
Oncology treatment in modern medicine all over the world including in all reputed centers in India is done following international guidelines
These like the NCCN,( national comprehensive cancer network )ESMO,( European society of medical oncology ) NICE guideline (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence ) lay down updated guidelines for oncology practioners globally of course the practioners have the flexibility to tailor it to their patients’ needs but generally follow its recommendations .
This makes it very objective
This is lacking in other systems of medicine which are not evidence based .
Research in cancer
there are no scientific trials to many claims which are advertised many formulations given to patients have not gone through stringent scientific scrutiny
systems of medicine where research in a big way is needed in big way like Ayurveda science may contribute a lot ot cancer treatment .
basic research in these systems of medicine indigenous to our country should be our focus as this can be done best here though western countries are also looking seriously into them these days
Research for oncology in modern medicine which is very cost prohibitive is a strain for Indian centers we need to focus more on early detection and intervention, screening and adequate treatment when diagnosed
Effective communication on Cancer
Myths needs to be broken
Public has to be informed of the strides made in oncology
This can be done effectively by media
The general negative attitudes to the disease has to be broken only by good communication for this attitude discourages people from active treatment as they develop a fatalistic attitude to the disease
Communication sadly is not only restricted to lay people many medical professionals themselves are not aware of the importance of instituting timely and correct treatment and screening needs
The menace of half knowledge
The advances and reach of palliative care and pain management may be a feather in Kerala s crown but it has also created an army of people with half or less than half knowledge who by learning the basics of palliative care come to the conclusion that they have become oncology experts and even at times give wrong advice that but for pain management no other treatment is needed which is counterproductive
Any patient with cancer has to be evaluated by a qualified medical oncologist, surgical oncologist or clinical oncologist/radiotherapist as the need maybe before a line of management is instituted
There is a lacuna in the number of such qualified people but Kerala is better off compared to other states in this matter
Many of the cancers today if diagnosed early can be cured while some become like chronic diseases like Diabetes etc
The large number of people who fall for scams and quackery in Kerala is well known, misleading advertisements offering get quick cures for cancer patient make them easy prey to such charlatans and many lose a fortune on supplements most of which are not only useless but also harmful for the patient
Many of these supplements also contain heavy metals and steroids which can harm the patient and prevent him from having treatment later
Exploitation of cancer patients by false claims
This is not only in Kerala but all over the world
Cancer cures are multicrore business and umpteen claims which appear scientific for the layman are available today in the internet
Many are not only a waste of money that could be used for better nutrition and proper treatment some are potentially harmful by causing renal failure or liver failure and preventing much needed treatment ,some delay treatment as patients tend to put off their conventional treatments for the claims .
Its always advisable to discuss with the oncologist any food fads or cancer cures
The Government should bring effective scrutiny of such claims and spread the message that false calims are unscientific and harmful
Multispecialty inputs for cancer
Oncology treatment is multispecialty and it needs the services and skills of surgeon, radiotherapist medical oncologists and many other specialties like infectious diseases nephrologist’s cardiologists and so many other specialties during the treatment
the role of psychologists physiotherapists oncology trained nurses and palliative care physicians the holistic management of a cancer patient are equally important
The time has still not come when one could say that cancer is not a fearsome diagnosis to hit families it is still so its is devastating for the family materially, psychologically and morally and it is an uphill task to go through the treatment which has many complications
But the time has come to say that the progress made in modern oncology has decreased the side effects of treatment to a large extent the sophistication of targeted treatment precision radiotherapy sophisticated surgical skills and diagnostic equipment’s have all created a vast difference between the mortality and morbidity rates of cancer sufferers
The need for Kerala is to recognize its advantages in this field and try to support and improve its services
Involvement of government with newer projects participation of organizations lessen the burden of the patients while the medias role is in imparting the right information and in reducing the scare and panic the word cancer has brought along with it while explaining the changes happening over the years and warning the going astray from instituted evidence based medicine into the lure of charlatans
Screening in Cancer
There are only three types of cancer where screening is approved
Colon cancer Breast cancer and cervix cancer ,there are guidelines for screening ,this has to be encouraged by adequate media coverage and everyone should take up screening to detect earlier and have a better outcome
For this awareness is very important
For all the disadvantages a country like India has it also has advantages
We need to strengthen our positives and to fill in our deficiencies
The right picture of the disease is to be communicated efficiently while at the same time myths needs to be broken.
Cancer management is hardy path but a lot had been travelled and can be so too .
Picture was taken when i was in Brunei cancer center

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Rajarajeswara Temple

Rajarajeswara temple Taliparamba Kannur ..
It was dusk when we reached here.
There was a reason for the same .
Women devotees are allowed into the Naalambhalam ie inner sanctum here only in evening (i hope no one files a PIL as all devotees are fine with it ).
The reason is in evening the deity is supposed to be in a genial mood with his consort .
The temple is ancient and has lot of legends behind it .
It also achieved fame by visits of political heavy weights like late Jayalalitha and present Karnataka CM and some cinema stars .
But Rajarajeswara temple does not need these mortals for fame .
Its other way around .
The main deity is Lord Shiva .
The temple is very strict in its rules
No one can carry mobiles or cameras inside and hence my pictures are from outside only .
The men que was literally not there so i could go in and come out in a jiffy while the ladies que was long and tortuous .
Rajarajeswara temple is one of the 108 ancient Shiva temples of Kerala .
The temple has no kodi maram or flagstaff like most temples do .
The place Taliparambha is considered as a shakti peethams one of the places where a part of a dead Sathis body fell .
The story tells of how Sati committed suicide unable to bear insult to her husband lord Shiva by her father Dakshin in a yagna and lord Shiva in great anger destroyed Dakshin and his empire by opening his third eye and took satis body on his shoulders dancing the tandava for days .
The decomposing body was a great worry for all devas and lord shivas dance pointed to destruction of all worlds and devas appealed to lord Vishnu to save them .
Vishnu knew Shivas anger will not come down till Satis dead body was removed from him hence he cuts the body to pieces using his chakra and it falls in different parts of India and these places are called Shakti peethams .
These are legends however gruesome they may appear .
Its said that Lord Shiva pleased with prayers of Manchanda gave him one of three shiv lings ,he was told to consecrate it in a place where there are no cremation grounds and Taliparambha was selected and lingha was installed there.
After death of Manchanda the lingha sank into the ground .
His son Muchukunda prayed again ardently was given the second lingha and he too installed it in same spot which with time sank to the ground .
After centuries the third lingha was passed to Sathosoman who was a king of the kolathiri chirakkal dynasty who ruled these parts ..
On advice of sage Agasthya the lingha was installed by the sage himself and it did not sink into sands .
It was considered as a jyothirlingham .
Its said that lord Rama stopped here to pray on his victorious return from Lanka .
Lord Shiva is addressed as Rajarajeswara the emperor of emperors
Devotees address him as thampuran Perumthirukovilappan .
The other legend is another version which says Parasurama a Vishnu avatar on his wanderings in Kerala which he created from the sea comes to this place full of vibrations and ruined temple asks Naradha about it who says the Devas once take the dust of the sun after reducing its heat by spinning it and mixing the dust with amruth creted three linghas which are offered to Godess Parvathi who gives it to the three kings mentioned who install it here .
Parasurama with help of celestial architect Vishwakarma built this temple .
Inside the temple as one circumambulates which was not allowed when we went due to some reason .
There is said to be a figurine of an yakshi or guardian angel .
In front of the inner temple entrance is the Rishaba or Shivas bull and the huge Balikallu with a lot of carvings .
On circumambulating one prays in directions of kanjirangat appan or lord vaidyanathan in one corner Godess bhadrakali in Madayikaavu in another and Goddess Annapoorneswari in Cherukunnu
All these three temples were nearby and we had visited them .
I shall shortly write on them too .
In inner temple in front of jyotirlingham is an array of lamps and a bhadradeepam lit by sage Agasthya himself .
The jyotirlingham itself is most of time expect two times in the day one at nirmalyam at 5.30 am later at 9.30 am rest of the time its covered by Trinethram ,Shivas symbol of three eyes crescent moon and naghapaanam
In the background is a golden prabha and on top a vyalimugham face of a mythical being .
The three doors of sanctum have lord Dakshinamoorthy as a mural on one side lord Ganesha and lord Muruga .
Godess Parvathi is installed too there is a legend here too .
Once Godess Mahalakshmi Vishnus consort comes to Rajarajeswara temple to pray to Lord Shiva who assumes form of Mahavishnu so that Lakshmis prosperity adorns the temple .
Thinking its Vishnu , Lakshmi enters sanctum and stands near Shiva and when lord Shiva assumes his real self she realizes the mistake and attempts to leave but Shiva asks his attendant to close western side door so shes with parvathi till vishnu arrives and takes her home .
In meantime the prosperity associated with Goddess lakshmi is empowered to the temple .
The thanthris of temple belong to four families or manas .
Poonthotathil pudayur mana ,eduvalath pudayur mana ,Eruvesi pudayur mana ,and Naduvath pudayur mana .
During Shivarathri which is most important festival lord Vishnu from Thrichambaram temple nearby is brought here in procession .
Temple is also known for its chakiyar koothu and koodiyattam perfomances .
During Tipus invasion two prominent gopuras were destroyed but before further damage could be done the commander of Tipus army who ordered the destruction of the temple was bit by a poisonous snake and so the destruction did not proceed .
However several Namboothiri families left to Trivandrum at this time .

Friday, October 05, 2018

Misty mount resort Munnar

Misty mountain resort promises mist and by Jove it delivers it !!!

On the curving sinuous tea garden bordered roads from Admiali as you near Munnar town ( about 8km from Munnar ) at Pallivasal on your left side one sees a looming white colonnaded facade rising up almost calling you to take a peek into it and we did that and how.

The first thing that impresses one when they reach the resort is its neatness and order ,be it the lovely red roses and other flowers in their beds or the way the cars are parked neatly with a couple of warm security uncles fussing you with love and welcome and large umbrellas to park in comfort and before you can say mist your bags are ferreted away to the reception leaving you to stretch your legs from the long drive and breath in pure oxygen laden with mist .

Cnce you are in the reception the smiling ladies or the GM greet you with smiles of love and in a jiffy you are going up to your rooms .
The front half with the view are a taddy bit more costly than the rear ones but worth every cent for the ethereal heaven laid before you at any time of the day .

The USB of the resort is this vast tea garden and the valley that lies beyond the road in front and the creamy mist that fills the valley ,in fact most cars weaving its way up stop here to have a look and out come the cameras and mobiles as its the best selfie spot but when you can do all this in the privacy of your room without getting wet in a drizzle it sure beats to stay here .
And once you drink enough of the scenery you can sink into one of the most comfortable beds i had sunk in hotels and i have done that a lot too mind you !

The suite we took was just exquisite with its spacious two rooms with TV and luxurious bathroom and well stocked freebies and mini bar of course 
The front lift is a viewing one and its soft touch buttons make it go up or down while we watch the valley and its mists .
Coming tot the restaurant there are two one for Chinese and continental and there for Indian read keralite and north Indian . 
The variety and taste of the buffet or the breakfast with its live counters and the executive chef personally finding out your needs the hospitality fills you up as much as the food .

In the morning we go up the terrace taking the lift and watch the distant hills undulating tea estates ,there is a trekking path behind and a trek guide form hotel will take you up a path and a walk .
After 24 hours of bliss we reluctantly checked out promising to return again and again 
a sure fire recommendation for this lovely resort

Monday, October 01, 2018

Parsinikadavu Muthappan temple

Years back in the thickly wooded areas off Kannur near the flowing vallapatanam river  there lived a brahmin couple from the famous Ayyankaar illam .
Ayyankara Devan and Padikutty Antharjanam
They were childless and sad .
The antharjanam finds a child abandoned near the river when  she goes to bath and the couple bring up the child .

Hes Muthappan .

Those were feudal times of Aryan dominance over Dravidians like the Parasuram created temples were managed by brahmin families and entry to lower castes were banned .

Muthappan they say is an incarnation  of Shiva and Vishnu in kali yuga .

His birth is in tune with sambhavami yuge yuge ie the Lord gets born in time to time as per need .

In those times the Lord needed to be a champion for the downtrodden lower castes .

So Muthappan used to spend most of his teen years in company of tribals and lower castes hunting animals for meat  taking fermented rice with meat fish and taking liqour .

This was shocking to his parents .
His father asked him to go out of the house .

Muthappan got furious but showed his true self to his parents who fell on his feet asking him to forgive them .

His eyes were so powerful that it burned anything in its path .

His mother asked him to wear an eye shield to avoid this .

The theyyam is a north kerala art form and like idols ,floor decorations called Kalam varakkal ,were considered as Gods .

Muthappan is represented by Vellaatam or the fiery Shiva form with metal  eye pieces .
He wears a crescent shaped head gear ,eye shield etc .
Thiruvappana who pairs with Vellatam  is the milder Vishnu wearing a fish shaped headgear .

In the theyyam its Thiruvapana who guides vellaattam as his eyes are closed .

These theyyam.forms are forms of worship and the devotee in full faith accepts the advice on his pleas with implicit obedience .

So both forms are a combination of confession and counselling for the multitudes .

The Thiruvappana vellatam theyam takes place every single morning in Muthappan temple in Parsinikadavu .

The area of the temple is called Madapara and the chief person accepted in administering the temple is Madayan or eldest son in law of the extended family by marumakathaayam or maternal lineage followed in kerala .

The Maadayan is the intermediary to the theyyam forms in conveying thier advices to the devotee.

The muthappan form of God is offered different type of offerings unlike in satvic form of worship .
Its thamasic .

Liqour is a favourite as it was for the real muthappan who was said to have stolen toddy from a palm of a chundan who gets angry and shouts at him .
Muthappan turns him into stone and later on impassioned pleas from his wife turns him back to living form .
They then pray to him with liqour as offering
Muthappan is also always accompanied by stray dogs who protect him in his wanderings .
Hence near the temple too one does find a few dogs but they are harmless and docile
The temple offerings are given to the dogs too and two bronze dogs gaurd the entrance .
All this may surprise regular temple goers in kerala  as they are not used to meat or fish anywhere in vicinity of a temple and liqour too is abhorred .
This is a bit similar to aghora form seen in the north
The aghoras have no rules of civilisation they mostly wear no clothes and are covered with ash have dirty unkempt hair and eat anything even dead bodies .

Some of them are highly educated scholars .
It might shock most to think these people live like this and are even considered divine but thats the wide spectrum of hinduism which includes the most base of idol worshipping rituals aghora sadhu practices meat and fish offerings on one hand or highly selective satwic practices in temples with great purity and  prohibiton of anything which is not falling in its gamut on the other .

The madapura of Muthappan is hardly built like a temple in its aghamic form .

Its more like a multistoreyed hall with in built altars for the idols because here more than the idols its the theyyam forms which are representative of divinity a form of live real time personification of divinity to whom the devotee can directly interact .

Its from the vannaan community or washermen families the theyyam dancers come from taking turns maintaining thier purity and strictures asked for during this period and going into intervals of trances where they behave as muthappan himself .

We had reached kannur in the morning and took an auto rickshaw from railway station to Dharmasala about 16 km .
We checked into KTDC Tamarind already booked online .
This was opposite cannore technical university and it had a indian coffee house with great ambience serving excellent food at bargain prices .
It was around 12 km to Parsinikadavu which we reached by an autorickshaw .
The temple as i mentioned looked more like a hall was pretty crowded .

We entered from back side the front had a multistoreyed facade with elephant edges .
It faced the broad flowing Valapattanam river .
One could see the highway bridge from the temple
With the sun rising up it was meant for taking photographs but more was happening inside temple
The vellatam and Thiruvappana had already began thier ritial dance graceful to the tunes of clashing cymbals and echoing drum beats .
Men were neatly sitting or standing on one side while women were on the opposite side .
Many mingled too with children on thier hips.
Most kerala temples and kerala society women are not repressed in fact they are more adorned and given greater importance which is difficult for the rest of india to understand ..look at the confusion a distant supreme court created in sabarimala temple which had nothing to do with women repression but a traditional habit accepted by kerala temple going women (not the card carrying commies ).

After a long time the dance and movements stopped when i itched to take a video or snaps unfortunately prohibited inside temple .
People thronged around the artistes for thier blessings and pronouncements.
I heard thiruvattam saying to a school going boy to concentrate on his studies and blessing him to the delight of the parents and the shy boy himself .

We too took his blessings giving him.a small dakshina or offering .
All the small cash collections would go to the theyyam artistes but the bigger amounts or gold should be shared with all temple people .

We then moved into a hall for the prasadam which thankfully was not liqour or fish it was fresh boiled peas with coconut pieces steamed and glasses of tea which was served in moving trolleys like in a flight as we sat in benches .

After some more pictures we left the famous parsinikadavu muthappan temple .

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