Monday, December 3, 2007

Gods and Celebrities

In the world of celebrities, even gods are riding piggyback on them. The relatively obscure Kukke Sri Subramanya temple in the remote foothills off Sullia in the Western Ghats in South Karnataka suddenly shot into fame recently with the visit of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar for a puja to ward of sarpa dosha, the wrath of the reptiles.

As the news broke out, almost a million hits came to the site of the temple in a matter of six hours before it simply crashed unable to withstand the heavy traffic. The temple authorities have managed to upgrade the site and they are now in a position to handle heavier traffic.

Temples are now taking on the cyber revolution and dozens of temples in Kerala and South Karnataka, including the famous Mookambika Temple in Kollur in South Karnataka, the Guruvayur Devaswom and many others are accessible to netizens worldwide.

Like the Kukke Subramanya Temple, which became quite famous with the visit of Sachin and his wife Anjali this week, an ancient temple in north Kerala, which had fallen on bad days for a long period, recently got a shot into prominence with a celebrity visit. When Tamil Nadu chief Minister Jaylalithaa chose to visit the Rajarajeswari Temple in Talipparamba, a small town north-east of Kannur, the police authorities and mediapersons were so surprised by her choice because this ancient temple is quite unknown even among the ardent devotees. But historians said the temple was one of the most prominent in ancient Kerala as the important deity of the kings of the Mooshika Vamsam, a royal lineage in north Kerala which ruled the area for many centuries before its decline into oblivion more than five hundred years ago leaving the temple and some dilapidated palaces as their only memorials.

Kerala's famous Guruvayur is another temple that is often graced by such dignitaries and celebrities. It is a temple that keeps out non-Hindus, no matter how famous they are like legendary singer and Krishna devotee, Yesudas. But politicians are a class apart. When the Sri Lankan prime minitser and his wife came for a darshan, no one appeared bothered about his Christian wife. But when churidar clad girls were allowed by the devaswom inside the temple, the jyotishis who conduct the regular consultations on the god's wishes said, No: girls with churidars is not welcome.

That means visiting your favourite god in god's own country is no easy matter.

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