Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple

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Nagapooshani Amman Temple
MAIN NAGAPOOSHANI TEMPLE.jpg
Nagapooshani Amman Temple is located in Sri Lanka
Nagapooshani Amman Temple
Nagapooshani Amman Temple
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Location in Sri Lanka
Coordinates: 9°37′8.6″N 79°46′27.4″E / 9.619056°N 79.774278°E / 9.619056; 79.774278Coordinates: 9°37′8.6″N 79°46′27.4″E / 9.619056°N 79.774278°E / 9.619056; 79.774278
Name
Other names: Nainai Nagapooshani Amman Temple
Bhuvaneswari Shakti Peetham
Proper name: Manidweepam / Manipallavam
Devanagari: श्री मणिद्वीप नाकापूसानी अम्मान क्षेत्रं
Tamil: ஸ்ரீ மணிபல்லவ நாகபூசணி அம்மன் கோயில்
Location
Country: Sri Lanka
Province: Northern
District: Theevakam, Jaffna
Location: Nainativu
Temple Details
Primary Deity: Sri Nagapooshani (Bhuvaneswari) Amman
Consort: Sri Nayinaar Swami
Festival Deity: Sri Swarna Nagapooshani Amman
Festival Consort: Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami
Temple Tank: Kailasa-roopa Pushkarani
Amrutha Gangadharani Theertham
Poets: Adi Shankaracharya
Important festivals: Mahostavam (Thiruvizha), Navaratri, Shivaratri, Aadi Pooram
Architecture and culture
Inscriptions: Parâkramabâhu I
History
Date built: Unknown
Creator: Lord Indra

Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple (Tamil: நயினாதீவு நாகபூசணி அம்மன் கோயில்) is an ancient and historic Hindu temple located amidst the Palk Strait on the island of Nainativu, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Nagapooshani or Bhuvaneswari and her consort, Shiva who is named here as Nayinaar. The temple's fame is accredited to Adi Shankaracharya, a 9th-century Hindu philosopher, for identifying it as one of the prominent 64 Shakti Peethams in Shakti Peetha Stotram and its mention in the Brahmanda Purana. The temple complex houses four gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 20–25 feet in height, to the tallest being the eastern Raja Raja Gopuram soaring at 108 feet high. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, such as Manimekalai and Kundalakesi. The present structure was built during 1720 to 1790 after the ancient structure was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620. The temple attracts around 1000 visitors a day, and approximately 5000 visitors during festivals. The annual 16 day Mahostavam (Thiruvizha) festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Aani (June/July) - attracts over 100,000 pilgrims. There is an estimated 10,000 sculptures in this newly renovated temple.

Mythology[edit]

Legend[edit]

The Nagapooshani Amman Temple is believed to be originally established by Lord Indra while seeking alleviation from the curse of Gautama Maharishi. The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata records that Lord Indra was overcome by his sexual desires for Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi. Indra disguised himself as the saint and proceeded to seduce and make love to Ahalya. When the saint came to know, he cursed Indra to have a thousand marks resembling the yoni (female reproductive organ) all over his body. Indra was ridiculed and referred to as Sa-yoni. Unable to face the humiliation, he went into exile to the island of Manidweepa (Nainativu). There, he is believed to have created, consecrated and worshipped the moolasthana murti of the Goddess to atone for his sins. The Queen of the Universe, Bhuvaneswari Amman, satisfied with Indra's utmost devotion, repentance and remorse appeared before him and transformed they yonis on his body into eyes. She then took on the name of "Indrakshi" (Indra Eyed). Another legend states that, many centuries later, a cobra (Nagam) was swimming across the sea towards Nainativu from the nearby island of Puliyantivu with a lotus flower in its mouth, for the worship of Bhuvaneswari Amman (who had already been consecrated by Indra). An eagle (Garuda) spotted the cobra and attempted to attack it and kill it. Fearing harm from the eagle, the cobra wound itself around a rock (referred to in Tamil as; Paambu Sutriya Kal “the Rock around which the Snake wound itself”) in the sea about half a kilometer from the Nainativu coast, and the eagle stood on another rock (Garudan Kal “the Rock of the Eagle”) some distance away. A merchant by the name of Maanikan from the Chola kingdom; who was himself a devotee of Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman, was sailing across the Palk Strait to trade with the ancient Naka Nadu noticed the eagle and the cobra perched upon said rocks. He pleaded with the eagle to let the cobra go on its way without any harm. The eagle agreed with one condition that the merchant should construct a beautiful temple for Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman on the island of Nainativu and that he shall propagate her worship in the form of Sri Nagapooshani Amman for universal peace, prosperity and humanity. He agreed and built a beautiful temple accordingly. The eagle took three dips into the ocean to atone for its sins against the Nagas in the Mahabharata, and hence, the Garuda and Naga resolved their longstanding feuds.

Shakti Peetham[edit]

The Shakti Peethas (Sanskrit: शक्ति पीठ, Tamil: சக்தி பீடம்) are places of worship consecrated to the Goddess Shakti, Parvati, Dakshayani, or Durga, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. They are sprinkled throughout the Indian subcontinent. Shakti is the goddess of power and is the complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti. The Brahmanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, mentions the 64 Shakti Peethas of Goddess Parvati in the Indian subcontinent including present day India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Another text which gives a listing of these shrines, is the Shakti Peetha Stotram, written by Adi Shankara, the 9th century Vedic philosopher.[1]

She has three chief manifestations;
1. Durga - goddess of strength and valour,
2. Mahakali - goddess of destruction of evil, and
3. Tripura Sundari - goddess of benevolence.

Sometime after Lord Brahma commenced the process of creating the universe, he grew weak due to the sheer task before him. He sought the help of Lord Shiva and offered a yagya (fire ritual) to please the supreme divinity. Lord Shiva pleased with his offerings, appeared before him and sacrificed his shakti (energy) to assist Lord Brahma in the task of completing the creation of the universe. Lord Brahma thankful for the compassion Lord Shiva bestowed upon him, vowed that one day his shakti would be given back to him. Therefore, Dakshin (son of Brahma) performed several yagyas to obtain Shiva's shakti as his daughter in the form of Dakshayani. It was then decided that Dakshayani would be brought into the material world with the purpose of getting married to Shiva.

In bidding the Goddess to take human birth, Brahma's design was that she should please Shiva with humble devotions and wed him. It was natural that Dakshayani, even as a child, adored the tales and legends associated with Shiva and grew up an ardent devotee. As Dakshayani grew to womanhood, the idea of marrying anyone else, as intended by her father, became anathema to her. Every proposal from valiant and rich kings made her crave evermore the ascetic of Kailasa, the God of Gods, who bestowed all on this world and himself foreswore all. Dakshin acts, both justified and unjustified, to wean Dakshayani away from Lord Shiva, to protect his egoistic stand that Lord Shiva doesn't confirm to the "worldly" principles that he is so fond of. However, Dakshayani just cannot forget Lord Shiva nor can she live without him.

To win the regard of the ascetic Shiva, Dakshayani forsook the luxuries of her father's palace and retired to a forest, there to devote herself to austerities and the worship of Shiva. So rigorous were her penances that she gradually renounced food itself, at one stage subsisting on one bilva leaf a day, and then giving up even that nourishment; this particular abstinence earned her the sobriquet Aparnā. Her prayers finally bore fruit when, after testing her resolve, Shiva finally acceded to her wishes and consented to make her his bride.

An ecstatic Dakshayani returned to her father's home to await her bridegroom, but found her father less than elated by the turn of events. The wedding was however held in due course, and Dakshayani (henceforth called Gauri) made her home with Shiva in Kailasa. Dakshin, depicted in legend as an arrogant king, did not get on with his renunciative son-in-law and cut his daughter away from her natal family.

Dakshin's arrogance[edit]

Hence one day, in Satya Yuga, Dakshin performed a grand yagna with a desire to take revenge on Lord Shiva. Dakshin was angry because his daughter Dakshayani also known as Sati had married the "yogi" Lord Shiva against his wish. Dakshin invited all the deities to the yagna except for Shiva and Gauri. The fact that she was not invited did not deter Gauri from attending the yagna. Wanting to visit her parents, relatives and childhood friends, Gauri sought to rationalize this omission. She reasoned within herself that her parents had neglected to make a formal invitation to them only because, as family, such formality was unnecessary; certainly, she needed no invitation to visit her own mother and would go anyway. She had expressed her desire to attend to Shiva who had tried his best to dissuade her from going. Shiva eventually allowed her to go escorted by ganas and bid her provoke no incident.

Self-immolation[edit]

Gauri was received coldly by her father. Gauri, being an uninvited guest, was not given any respect. Furthermore, Dakshin began to insult Shiva. Gauri was unable to bear her father's insults toward her husband, had a heated argument about the virtues (and alleged lack thereof) of Shiva. Every passing moment made it clearer to Gauri that her father was entirely incapable of appreciating the many excellent qualities of her husband - the supreme divinity of the universe. The realization then came to Gauri that this abuse was being heaped on Shiva only because he had wed her; she was the cause of this dishonour to her husband. She was consumed by rage against her father and loathing for his mentality. Calling up a prayer that she may, in a future birth, be born the daughter of a father whom she could respect, Gauri invoked her yogic powers and immolated herself.

Virabhadra with Dakshin

Shiva's rage[edit]

Shiva sensed this catastrophe, and his rage was incomparable. He created Virabhadra and Bhadrakali, two ferocious creatures who wreaked havoc and mayhem on the scene of the horrific incident. Two temples on the island of Nainativu propagate the worship of these energies - namely Nainai Virabhadra Temple and Nainai Kali Amman Temple. Nearly all those present were indiscriminately felled overnight. Dakshin himself was decapitated.

According to some traditions, it is believed that an angry Shiva performed the fearsome and awe-inspiring Tandava dance with Gauri's charred body on his shoulders. During this dance, Gaurī's body came apart and the pieces fell at different places on earth. According to another version, Shiva placed Gauri's body on his shoulder and ran about the world, crazed with grief. The Gods called upon the Lord Vishnu to restore Shiva to normalcy and calm. Vishnu, used his Sudarshana Chakra to dismember Gauri's lifeless body, following which Shiva regained his equanimity. Both versions state that Gauri's body was thus dismembered into 64 pieces which fell on earth at various places. These 64 holy places, known as Shakti Peethas,. Some of these places, like the Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple, have become major centers of pilgrimage as they are held by the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect to be particularly holy.

After the night of horror, Shiva, the all-forgiving, restored all those who were slain to life and granted them his blessings. Even the abusive and culpable Dakshin was restored both his life and his kingship. His severed head was substituted for that of a goat. Having learned his lesson, Dakshin spent his remaining years as a devotee of Shiva.

Silambu Ornament[edit]

Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple is believed to be where the silambu (anklets) of Gauri had fallen. Anklets have been given immense importance in the worship of Shakti since time and memorial. This ornament is also referred to in the famous Tamil epic Silapathikaram - where the story begins and ends with an anklet.

Architecture[edit]

Sanctum Sanctorum[edit]

The moolasthanam or garbhagriha ("womb chamber", central shrine) of Nagapooshani Amman and her consort Nayinaar Swami are in traditional Dravidian Hindu architecture. The inner wall of the temple together with the outer wall of the central shrine create a pradakshina (path) around the garbhagriha. The entrance is extensively decorated with paintings, sculptures and oil lamps. Over the garbhagriha is a 10 feet high vimana (tower). The garbhagriha has two entrances - the main entrance facing East, from which the Moolamurtis (consecrated deities) can be viewed and one facing South, from which the Utsavamurtis (festival deities) can be viewed. A unique feature of this temple is that Nayinaar Swami and Nagapooshani Amman are installed together as if they are one; granting darshanam to devotees as Shiva-Shatki (the primeval energies of the cosmos).

Gopurams[edit]

Nainativu Sri Nagapooshani Amman Temple has four decorative and colourful gopurams.

Raja Raja Gopuram just after Mahakumbhabhishekam 2012

Raja Raja Gopuram[edit]

The Raja Raja Gopuram is the largest of the three gopurams that adorn this temple. The largest of its kind in Sri Lanka, it soars to the height of 108 feet and appears to scrape the clouds. It has over 2000 intricately sculpted and painted figures on all four sides. It has 9 passages and 9 golden kalasams. From a distance it appears to crown the much older East Gopuram, and hence it adequately deserves the name of "Raja Raja Gopuram" ("king of kings tower"). It was constructed from 2010 - 2012 with the efforts of artists from Tamil Nadu, India. Mahakumbhabhishekam (great temple revival ceremony) was held in late January 2012. This event was attended by 200,000 devotees from various cities and towns as far as India, Europe, Australia, and North America.

East Gopuram[edit]

East Gopuram is the oldest of the three gopurams on the modern day structure. As the name implies it opens facing the rising sun across the sea in the East. It rises to the height of 54 feet from the base. This gopuram originally had the fewest number of sculptures. During the renovation period, a number of new sculptures seem to have been added and painted in brighter colours to match the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Upon entering this gopuram, one directly faces the Moolamurtis (consecrated deities).

South Gopuram[edit]

The South Gopuram as a fairly new structure built in the early 1970s. As the name implies it opens facing South. It rises to the height of 54 feet from the base. During the renovation period, sculptures on this gopuram were also painted in brighter colours to match the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Upon entering this gopuram, one directly faces the Utsavamurtis (festival deities).

South East Gopuram[edit]

The South East Gopuram is a new addition to the temple. Although this gopuram is in the South-East corner of the temple complex, it also faces South. Built in December 2011, its primary purpose is to welcome those coming from within the island to worship the Goddess, and visitors from the nearby Naga Vihara (Buddhist Temple). It reaches the height of about 20–25 feet. It is the smallest gopuram and has the fewest number of sculptures. It was also painted in bright and vibrant colours to match the other gopurams.

Mandapams[edit]

Vasantha Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam is used for special poojas during festivals and fasting days to house to Utsavamurtis (festival deities). It is grand in manner. It can directly be viewed from outside through a newly constructed archway on the Southern wall of the temple.

Vahana Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam houses the various vehicles the Utsavamurtis (processional deities) are seated upon during temple festivals. It is located on the North wall of the temple. It houses nearly 50 different vehicles. The most impressive being Ravana-Kailasa Vahanam. This vehicle depicts the demonized King of Lanka and ardent devotee of Lord Shiva; Ravana lifting Mount Kailasa while peacefully playing a makeshift veena created from one of his heads and arms by plucking the veins and arteries to sooth Lord Rakshaseshwara (who is the Lord of the Rakshas (of which Ravana is one), Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami). It is believed that Ravana resides within this vehicle and hence it always attracts thousands of devotees when in use. It has become an indisputable icon of this temple due to the myths that surround the visit of Ravana to the island to offer poojas to Lord Rakshaseshwara (who is the Lord of the Rakshas, Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami).

Kalayana Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam is used for conducting marriage ceremonies. It is located on the Northern premises of the temple property.

Annapoorneshwari Annadhana Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam is used for the distribution of free food during festivals and social events. It is located on the Northern premises, nearby the Kalayana Mandapam. Oftentimes this venue is used to serve wedding feasts after wedding ceremonies which are held at the Kalayana Mandapam. It houses Annapoorneshwari Amman, the Hindu Goddess of nourishment, however regular poojas are not offered here.

Amuthasurabi Annadhana Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam is used for the distribution of free food everyday to all those who visit the temple. It is located 2 mins walk from the Southern premises of the temple property. This mandapam serves to validate the values that are mentioned in the ancient Tamil epic of Manimekalai. The epic is set in both the harbour town of Kaveripattinam, the modern town of Puhar in Tamil Nadu, and in Nainativu, a small sandy island of the Jaffna Peninsula. The story follows the following plot: The dancer-courtesan Manimekalai is pursued by the amorous Cholan prince Udyakumaran, but rather wants to dedicate herself to a religious celibate life. The sea goddess Manimekala Theivam (Manimekalai Devi) puts her to sleep and takes her to the island Manipallavam (Nainathivu). After waking up and wandering about the island Manimekalai comes across the Dharma-seat, which was placed there by Lord Indra, on which Buddha had taught and appeased two warring Naga princes. Those who worship it miraculously know their previous life. Manimekalai automatically worshiped it and recollects what has happened in her previous life. She then meets the guardian goddess of the Dharma seat, Deeva-Teelakai (Dvipa Tilaka) who explains her the significance of the Dharma seat and lets her acquire the magic never-failing begging bowl (cornucopia) called Amurta Surabhi (”cow of abundance”), which will always provide food to alleviate hunger. As such, devotees and visitors are welcomed to enjoy a traditional meal after visiting the temple.

Sri Bhuvaneswari Kalai Aranga Mandapam[edit]

This mandapam is used for various performances in dance, music and art. It was recently renovated and repainted in 2011 to suit the design of the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Common performances in this mandapam include bharatanatyam, mridangam, nadaswaram and sankeerthanam.

Ambala Veedhi[edit]

This is the outside of the temple structure and forms the outer pradakshina (path) around the temple.

Nandi[edit]

According to the puranas, Nandi was born out of the right side of Vishnu resembling Shiva exactly and given as a son to the Sage Salankayana. Some others state that Nandi was given to Sage Silada by the grace of Shiva. Nandi plays an important role in Shivaism.

In one puranic story, it is stated that once Shiva and Parvati were playing a game of dice. For any game there has to be an umpire, who has to declare who is the winner. Shiva and Parvati agreed to have Nandi (the divine bull) as the umpire. Nandi is a favorite of Shiva, as he is Shiva's vehicle. Although Shiva lost the game, Nandi declared him the winner. It is stated that Parvati was indignant over Nandi's partiality for Shiva and cursed him that he should die from an incurable disease. Thereupon Nandi fell at the feet of Parvati and pleaded for forgiveness. "Mother forgive me. Should I not show at least this amount of gratitude to one who is my master? Is it not humiliating for me to declare that my master has lost the game? To uphold his honor I no doubt uttered a lie. But am I to be punished with such severity for so small an offence?", Nandi prayed for forgiveness in this manner. Parvati forgave Nandi and taught him the means to atone for his lapse. She told him, "The Chaturdasi day in the month of Purattaasi; Tamil: September - October (Bhadrapada; Sanskrit: August - September) is the day when my son's birthday is celebrated. On that day you must to offer to my son what pleases you the most". For Nandi the most enjoyable and relishing food is green grass. As directed by Parvati Nandi worshipped Ganapathi by offering green grass. Nandi was then relieved of his dreaded disease. His health improved and by the grace of Parvati he was redeemed.

Nandi (Sanskrit: नंदी, Tamil: நந்த), is now universally accepted to be the most common mount of Lord Shiva and the gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati. This close association of Shiva, Parvati and Nandi explains the presence of a statue of Nandi at the gateway of the temple. This statue is approximately 8 feet high and faces the Moolamurtis directly through the East Gopuram. It is undoubtedly the only large sized Nandi of its kind in Sri Lanka.

Dwajasthambam[edit]

The temple administration removed the silver plated dwajasthambam ("kodi maram"; flag post) in late 2011 to allow for renovations to the temple. It is expected that a new brass plated dwajasthambam will be installed before June 2012 to replace the one that had been removed. Currently the temple does not have a substitute.

Temple Chariots[edit]

The Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple chariot is, perhaps, the most beautiful and exquisitely sculpted example of a temple chariot in all of Tamilakam. This chariot is used to carry the Utsavamurtis (processional deities). The chariot is usually used only once a year for the festival Ratholsavam (Tamil: Ther Thiruvizha, "chariot festival"), which is drawn by several thousand devotees around the outer pradakshina (path) of the temple. It reaches the height of 35 feet and is covered with various sculptures depicting the history of the temple. Two other slightly smaller (30 feet) chariots for Sri Ganapathi Swami and Sri Valli Devayani Sametha Subramanya Swami always accompany the main chariot. The main chariot is unique and has become an iconic figure of this temple. It is one of the largest chariots in Sri Lanka.

Temple Tanks[edit]

Kailasa-roopa Pushkarini[edit]

This temple tank is located on the Southern premises of the temple. It was recently renovated in 2011 and has a 15 feet high sculpture of Sri Nagapooshani Amman embracing Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami atop the famous Ravana-Kailasa Vahanam. A unique feature about this sculpture is that the cobras with their open hoods, spit water resembling a fountain. Since the renovation, visitors are prohibited from entering its waters.

Amrutha Gangadharani Theertham[edit]

This temple tank is located approximately 1 km from the temple on the western shore of the island of Nainativu. It was built by Muthukumara Swamiyar (a resident saint of Nainativu) in the early 1940s. It is nearby the Nainai Siva-Gangai Temple and is accessed by flights of stone steps leading from the small stone shrine.

Rituals[edit]

Rituals being offered to the Moolamurtis (consecrated deities) and the Utsavamurti (festival deity of Sri Swarna Nagapooshani Amman).

Worship[edit]

There are close to 15 priests in the temple who perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like all other Shiva temples of Tamilakam, the priests belong to the Shivaite Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area North-East of the temple. The temple has a six-time pooja schedule everyday, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivedyam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Sri Nagapooshani (Bhuvaneswari) Amman and Sri Nayinaar Swami. Thepooja(worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. The temple street plans form a giant mandala (holy circle pattern) whose sacred properties are believed to be activated during the mass clockwise cicumambulations of the central temple.

Festivals[edit]

The most important festival associated with the temple is the 16 day long Mahostavam (Thiruvizha) that is celebrated in annually in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July). During this period, there are a number of events including the Swarna Ratholsavam ("Manja Thiruvizha"; golden chariot festival), Ratholsavam ("Ther Thiruvizha"; chariot festival) and Poongavanam ("Theppa Thiruvizha"; float festival). Major Hindu festivals like Navratri and Shivratri attract thousands of devotees. Like most Shakti temples in Tamilakam, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January - February) are given special importance at this temple. Aadi Pooram, the day Parvati is said to have attained puberty, and become a mother to all her devotees is marked in grand manner at this temple.

History[edit]

Literary Mentions[edit]

Ptolemy, a Greek cartographer, describes the temple and the surrounding Tamil territory including islands around the Jaffna peninsula as Nagadibois in the 1st century CE.

Naka Nadu was the name of the whole Jaffna peninsula in some historical documents. There are number of Buddhist myths associated with the interactions of people of this historical place with Buddha.[2] The two Sangam Tamil Buddhist epics; Manimekalai and Kundalakesi describe the islet of Manipallavam of Naka Nadu which is identified with Nainativu islet of the Jaffna peninsula. Manimekalai describes the ancient island of Manipallavam from where merchants came to obtain gems and conch shells. These objects are revered still today by Hindus. Furthermore, Manimekalai directly states that the island is home to Goddess Manimekala Theivam (Manimekalai Devi).

Inscriptions[edit]

The 12th century CE Tamil language inscription of the temple by Parâkramabâhu I states that foreign merchants must land at Uraturai (Kayts) before entering the island of Nainativu. This undoubtedly refers to merchants and pilgrims from South India. Furthermore it identifies the measures that should be taken if ships carrying elephants, horses and merchandise are ship wrecked.[3]

The people "snake-worshippers" of Nainativu, spoke Tamil based on Ptolemy's description.[4][5] The interchangeable names Nayar and Naka or Naga, meaning cobra or serpent were applied to and self described by these snake-worshiping people from classical antiquity.[6] The word Naga was sometimes written in early inscriptions as Naya, as in Nayanika - this occurs in the Nanaghat inscription of 150 BCE. Archaeological excavations and studies provide evidence of palaeolithic inhabitation in the Jaffna and Kerala region. The findings include Naga idols and suggest that serpent worship was widely practised in the Kerala and Jaffna region during the megalithic period.[7][8][9][10][11] The name Naka as either a corrupted version of the word Nayanar or may have been applied to this community due to their head covering being the shape of a hydra-headed cobra in reverence to their serpentine deities; Sri Naayinar Swami and Sri Nagapooshani Amman.[12] The rulers and society of Nainativu are described as an advanced civilization in the Vallipuram gold plate inscriptions.[13] H. Parker, a British historian and author of "Ancient Ceylon" considers the Naka to be an offshoot of the Nayars of Kerala[14] Many other archaeological inscriptions refer to the Chola-Naka alliance and intermarriange being the progenitor of the Pallava Dynasty of Tamilakam.

On the right side of the South Gopuram entrance is a large life saver-shaped stone - an ancient anchor. Arab ships used to carry such anchors.[3]

Invasions[edit]

The original temple was looted and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620 CE. The modern day structure was restored and re-established in 1788. The temple was later attacked, burnt, and sustained severely damaged, in June 1958, and in March 1986 by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The Nagadweepa Buddhist Vihara which is a few meters away from the temple, was established in the 1940s by a resident monk with the help of local Tamils.[15]

Upadevas[edit]

· Sri Ganapathi Swami
· Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman
· Sri Valli Devayani Sametha Subramanya Swami
· Sri Navagraha
· Sri Surya Bhagavan
· Sri Thingal Bhagavan
· Sri Vairavar
· Sri Chandikeswarari
· Nalvars
· 63 Nayanmars

Pilgrimage[edit]

The pilgrimage to this temple can be made throughout the year. However, the most popular time to visit the temple is during the 16 day long Mahostavam (Thiruvizha festival) that is celebrated in annually in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July).

Directions[edit]

Take any local bus heading to Kurikaadduvaan from Jaffna, and then take a short ferry to Nainativu Island.[16]

See also[edit]

Other revered locations of Shakti worship:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shakthi Peetha Stotram Vedanta Spiritual Library
  2. ^ Malalasekera, G.P. (2003). Dictionary of Pali Proper Names: Pali-English. Asian Educational Services. p. 42. ISBN 8120618238. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.angelfire.com/planet/heritagesl2/nagadipa/nagadipa.htm
  4. ^ Laura Smid (2003). South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Great Britain: Routledge. 429.
  5. ^ Chelvadurai Manogaran (1987). Ethnic conflict and reconciliation in Sri Lanka . United States of America: University of Hawaii Press. 21.
  6. ^ WWW Virtual Library Sri Lanka. (2009). The original inhabitants of Lanka: Yakkas & Nagas. Available: http://www.lankalibrary.com/cul/yakkas.htm. Last accessed 07 March 2010.
  7. ^ http://keraladotpark.com/pdf/Archacological%20wonders.pdf A research paper from archaeologist Dr. P. Rajendran showing evidence of paleolithic age human inhabitation in Kerala. This includes the pictures of serpent idols made of clay and metal which belong to the mesolithic age.
  8. ^ Department of Archaeology, Kerala University confirms paleolithic age findings in Kerala
  9. ^ General article for palaeolithic age findings in Kerala
  10. ^ A very detailed article including palaeolithic age in Kerala
  11. ^ "Anthropological museum to have new additions". The Hindu Newspaper (Kerala). 27 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  12. ^ Srilankanreference. (2009). Sri Lanka - Yakksha and Naga Times. Available: http://www.info.lk/srilanka/srilankahistory/yaksa_naga.htm. Last accessed 07 March 2010.
  13. ^ Peter Shalk. SERENDIPITY - ISSUE 02 - THE VALLIPURAM BUDDHA IMAGE - AGAIN
  14. ^ H. Parker (1909). Ancient Ceylon. New Dehli: Asian Educational Services. 7.
  15. ^ Meeadhu, Kalabooshanam (13 June 2008). "Nainativu Nagapooshani Chariot festival". Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  16. ^ http://migrationology.com/2012/02/pilgrimage-to-nainativu-island-in-northern-sri-lanka-jaffna/