Michael and I ride past the Kanichukulangara Devi Temple, almost daily. What interested me, what caught my attention was the gathering of people near the temple – seeming to be cooking food over little fire pits.
We stopped one afternoon to check it out.
What I’d later come to learn is that this Hindu temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy or Devi, the Mother of all Goddesses. The cooking near the temple is a tradition. Here women cook sweets – mostly pongala – a sweet coconut dish. The sweet dish is then brought to the monks of the Devi temple to be blessed with holy water. The blessings include an end of suffering, a bountiful life, healthy children, protection, etc… The blessed food is then brought back to the home, where the blessing spreads to the family.
Here, a woman called me over and shared with me what it was she was cooking! I panicked! I am SO picky when it comes to food, and a clean freak. But I couldn’t refuse and insult her. Next was….was it meat? Michael and I have stopped eating meat. Did she speak English enough to understand my question?
All this panic happened simultaneously! I gently asked if what she was handing me, that was nicely wrapped in a banana leaf, was meat? She smiled and shook her head no. I had no idea if she understood me and took a bite! Whatever it was, it was steaming hot and it was a sweet! I almost let out a happy cry of relief!!! A yummy brown sugary like ball with coconut.
She prepared another serving in a banana leaf and gestured it was for Michael!
Next, I walked over to check out the temple. I was shooed off the main area by a monk because I did not remove my footwear. I removed my flip flops and walked back. Next, this same monk, who did not speak a word of English, waved me over to his little kiosk where he blessed food items. He looked at the banana leaf wrapper in my hand and took it from me. He opened it only to discover it was empty. He abruptly gave it back to me, while looking at me as if he could not understand my purpose for being there, then dismissed me, shooed me away from his little kiosk. It was kinda funny!
As I walked away and started taking pictures of the temple, I could hear him having a fit about something. My instinct told me his distress was because I was taking pictures of the temple. But he seemed to be the only monk bothered by my presence. I refused to look at him, so he couldn’t shoo me away again! And continued taking pictures!!!
The shooing monk’s little kiosk is in the first picture – with the bright blue banner on the left.
Here, along the temple exterior wall, are where people light Diyas for blessings. Diyas are mini oil lamps where one lights a cotton wick dipped in coconut oil.
Prayer beads on a sacred tree.
Leaving I took a close up of the fire pits used.
Another sacred tree.
An ornate Diya under the protection of an awning.
This was a great experience!!