Devi Kanya Kumari
|Devi Kanya Kumari|
|Tamil||தேவி கன்யா குமாரி transl. The Adolescent Goddess|
|Affiliation||Adi Parashakti, Parvati|
|Abode||Southern tip of India|
|Mantra||kātyayanāya vidmahe kanyakumāri dhīmahi tanno durgiḥ pracodayāt|
|Mount||Tiger or Lion|
Devi Kanya Kumari (Tamil:தேவி கன்யா குமாரி) (Sanskrit:देवी कन्या कुमारि) (IAST:dēvi kanyā kumāri) is the manifestation of Parvati in the form of an adolescent girl child. Devi is also known as Shrī Bāla Bhadra or Shrī Bāla. She is popularly known as "Shakti" (Adi Parashakti) "Devi". The Bhagavathi Kumari Amman Temple is located in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, at the southern tip of main land India, there by located on the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. She is also known by several other names, including Kanya Devi and Devi Kumari. She is also worshiped as an incarnation of the goddess Bhadrakali by her devotees. Sage Parashurama is said to have performed the consecration of the temple. The goddess is believed to be the one who removes rigidity of the mind; devotees usually feel the tears in their eyes or even inside their mind when they pray to the goddess in devotion and contemplation.
There is a temple of Lord Ganesha near the tip of the land at the confluence of the three seas, which one must visit before entering the temple. Some believe that the Bhadrakali Temple within the Bhagavathi Kumari Amman Temple is the Shakti Peetha.
As directed by his Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, came here to seek Devi's blessing in December 1892. It is in this location he decided to embark on the missionary work to a higher level of action rather than being passive like the usual Sanyasis. Swami Brahmananda (1863–1922) and Swami Nirmalananda (1863–1938), another two disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Parama Hamsa, also worshiped Devi Kanyakumari. In fact, Swami Nirmalananda brought several small girls from many parts of Kerala to worship goddess here in 1935-36 period. Seven girls later on became the members of the first batch of Nuns of the "Sarada Ashrama", a Hindu nunnery started later in 1948 in Ottapalam, Palakkad, Kerala by Swami Vishadananda.
Kanyakumari is situated on the southernmost tip of Indian Ocean of Tamil Nadu. The worship of Devi Kanya Kumari here dates back to the Kumari Kandam, an ancient missing land. Kanya Kumari is a Hindu goddess. Since Lord Shiva didn't keep his promise to marry her on one particular day, she was very upset and angry, and her anger was diverted to kill the demons, followed by continuous penance.
Devi Kanya Kumari has been mentioned in Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Sangam works Manimekalai, Puranaanooru and Nārāyaṇa (Mahānārāyaṇa) Upanishad, a Vaishnava Upanishad in the Taittiriya Samhita of Krishna Yajur Veda.
The author of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (60-80 A.D.) has written about the prevalence of the propitiation of the deity Kanyakumari in the extreme southern part of India; "There is another place called Comori and a harbour, hither come those men who wish to consecrate themselves for the rest of their lives, and bath and dwell in celibacy and women also do the same; for it is told that a goddess once dwelt here and bathed."  Kanyakumari was under the rule of the Chera Dynasty followed by the Rulers and kings of Travancore under the overall suzerainty of the British until 1947, when India became independent. Travancore joined the independent India in 1947. Later in the state partition, Kanyakumari became part of Tamil Nadu. 
The feminine aspects of Adi Parashakti (in its manifested and un-manifested forms) are called as Prakriti, and the male aspects are called as Purusha. The Prakriti is addressed in different names by different Hindu communities as Adi-parashakti, Bhadra, Shakti, Devi, Bhagavathi, Amman, Rajarajeshwari, Shodashi; in different locations. All the material manifested aspects the Nature is classified as feminine and is the Prakriti or Mother Goddess and also the un-manifested forms Knowledge, Prosperity and Power are considered as feminine Prakriti, and it is source of energy for Creation, Sustain and Control, which is the male aspect (Purusha) of Prabrahma.
In Tantra, the worship of Prakriti is done in different methods: Dakshinachara (Right-Hand Path) (Sātvika rites), Vamachara (Left-Hand Path)(Rajas rites) and Madhyama (Mixed) (Tamasa rites) in different temples. The name of Devi in temples during Sātvika or Dakshina rites is 'Shrī Bhagavathi' and Vaama (left method) rites is called 'Maha Devi' similar to Maha Vidya.
The mythological story dates back to the prehistoric Tamil period. "Banasura", a demon by birth, was the ruler of this land. He was a very powerful king. He practiced tapasya and obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that his death will only be done by an adolescent young girl.
With this powerful boon, he became fearless and wreaked havoc on the entire world. He went on to conquer and oust Lord Indra from his throne. He banished all the devas’ from there. The devas’ who were the personification of the basic natural elements, Agni (fire), Varuna (water), Vayu (air) went uncoordinated and havoc spread in the universe, because Indra (ether) was not able to administer and coordinate the Pancha Bhootha.
It is believed that Bhagavathi, the unbiased Prakriti, can only bring order because she is the nature within which everyone lives and hence is unbiased. Bhagavathi manifested herself in the Southern tip of Aryavartha as Kumari, to kill Banasura and recur the balance of nature. As an adolescent girl, she had immense devotion towards Lord Shiva. Then, Lord Shiva decided to marry her. All arrangements were made for the marriage. Lord Shiva started the journey from Shuchindram for the marriage. The marriage muhurat (muhurtam or auspicious time) was in the Brahma muhurtam early in the morning. Narada made the sound of a cock sending wrong information that the Sun had already risen and the auspicious time passed. The marriage procession returned. Sage Narada realized Banasura could only be killed by an adolescent girl and thus interrupted Shiva’s marriage with Kumari.
Kumari waited for Lord Shiva and finally, she thought that she had been snubbed. With unbearable insult, pain, grief, and anger she destroyed everything she saw. She threw away all the food and broke her bangles. When she finally gained her composure she undertook continuous penance. Ages later, Banasura, tried to lure and approach Kumari without realizing who she was. The infuriated Kumari, who was Bhadrakali herself, slaughtered Banasura at once. Moments before his death Banasura realized that the one before him was Adi Parashakti, the Almighty itself. He prayed her to absolve him of his sins. After killing Banasura, Kumari assumed her original form of Parvati and reunited with her husband Shiva. Kumari maintained her divine presence in the place, in the Bhagavathi Kumari Amman Temple.
The food particles she scattered around are said to be the source of the colourful sands of Kanyakumari.
The presiding image is sported in standing posture with an Akshamala in her hands. There is an image of a lion in her pedestal indicating that she is the form of Adi Parashakti. There is a four-pillar hall in the temple, each of which gives out sounds of Veena (a string instrument), Mridangam (a percussion instrument), flute and Jalatarang (porcelain instrument).
The Nose-ring Mystery
The idol has a nose-ring which gives the deity the name "Mookuthi Amman" (Nose-ringed goddess). The idol's nose ring shines brightly since, the stone studded in the nose-ring is made of diamond. Once, the diamond in the nose-ring shined so brightly, it attracted a ship from the British Empire, with the captain of the ship, mistaking the temple for a lighthouse. The British, stormed into the temple through the eastern door and stole the nose-ring. The British set sail for London to give it to Queen Victoria (a similar fate to the Koh-i-Noor diamond), but on the way, a miracle happened. The nose-ring began to increase its weight which gradually sunk the ship, killing all onboard. The nose-ring was found by the locals and returned, to the temple. This is why the eastern door of the temple is opened only on certain days of the year.
The shrine is accessed through the Western door. The eastern door is opened only on certain days of a year, as on the new moon days in the months of Thai, Aadi (Karkidaka) July, during Navaratri and in the month of Kaartikai. For the purpose of rites and rituals in the temple of Kumari is imagined as (Sankalpam) as Bālambika, the child goddess. The goddess is considered as Katyayani, one of the Navadurgas here. She is also considered as Bhadrakali by the devotees while worshipping her.
Devi Kanya Kumari is the goddess of virginity and penance. It is a practice that people choose to receive the Diksha of Sanyasa from here in olden times. The rites and rituals of the temple are organized and classified according to Sankaracharya's treatise.
The other attractions inside the temple are the Pathala Ganga Theertham, Kalabhairava Shrine. Kalabhairava is a ferocious form of Lord Shiva who annihilates everything, i.e. Kala or time itself. Each of the 51 Shakti Peetha has a Kalabhairava shrine within the temple meant for the protection of the temple. The name of the Kalabhairava in Kanyakumari temple is 'Nimish' and the Shakti is 'Sarvani' and in the Shakti Peetha of Shuchindram the Kalabhairava is 'Samhāra' and the Shakti is 'Narayani'. These are two Shakti Peethas out of the 51 Shakti Peethas all over South Asia. There are also shrines to Vijayasundari and Balasundari, friends and playmates of the Goddess in her youthful form.
Navarathri Mandapam is a hall where devotees can display their artistic ability in music as a dedication to the goddess, Shri Pāda Pāra is a rock in the shape of Kumari's feet. This is now famous as Vivekananda Paara, where Swami Vivekananda got enlightenment to dedicate his life as an active Sanyasi rather than the usual practice of being passive.
Red Sarees and Ghee wick lamps are offered to the goddess by devotees. Reciting Lalita Sahasranama while approaching and circumambulating the temple is considered auspicious. The location Kanyakumari, i.e. the southern tip of India has been held sacred by Hindus' as it is the confluence of three seas. Offering Pitru Tarpan and bathing in the sea in the Kanyakumari beach is considered holy because it the convergence of many important Theerthams. There are a total of 11 theerthams associated with the temple in the ocean surrounding Kanyakumari.
- Chitra Pournima Festival: on the Full moon day in May
- Navarathri festival: 9 day festival in (September–October). The music artists get an opportunity to offer their artistic skill to the goddess by performing in the Navarathri Mandapam.
- Vaisakha festival: 10-day festival in May–June culminating by a Thoni Ezhunellathu in May–June. During this festival Devi will be taken in procession both in the morning and evening, during Aaraatu the eastern door is opened. On the ninth day, the Thoni Ezhunellathu takes place. Devi will be taken round the water on the western part in a boat.
- Kalabham festival: The idol is smeared in Sandal paste in the last Friday of the month of Karkidaka or Aadi, in July–August.
Pooja and worship schedule
The temple is opened for darshan from 6.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.
The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
- Kumari (goddess)
- Suchindram Temple, Kanyakumari
- Nagaraja Temple, Nagercoil, Nagarcoil
- Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Trivandrum
- Attukal Temple, Trivandrum
- Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam, Kannur
- Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple, Thrissur
- Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram
- Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
- Mookambika Devi Temple, Mangalore
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