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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Nine Days - Nine Goddesses!

The Chedda Nagar Murugan Temple has an interesting way of celebrating Navaratri. The focal point of the celebration is the elaborate homam (sacrifice) which is conducted over all the nine days of the festival. The temple is packed with devotees waiting for a glimpse of the sacrifice offered in front of a pot of water, which is invested with the power of the sacrifice, and then poured over the idol of the goddess. Sitting for any part of the homam is impossible when it comes to Samhith, and I have no hopes of attending any of the events there for the next few years. However, there is something which draws even Samhith to the temple religiously for all the nine days..... This is the image of the goddess made for the homam. Every day, for nine days, the decoration changes, and the image represents a different form of the goddess. It might depict a story, or just a form of the goddess, but it is interesting enough for Samhith to want to go and see which arrangement has been made everyday! Here are the decorations for this year....


The first day, it was Madurai Meenakshi with her consort, Sundareswarar.... Meenakshi's story is the same as that of Parvati, except that she belongs to the southern part of India. 



The second day, it was Abirami amman, and Subramanya Bhattar, who composed the Abirami Anthathi... This is a poem on the goddess, composed in such a manner that a new verse begins with the last word of the previous stanza. The story which led to this composition is an interesting one, which I plan to write soon!



The third day, it was Kovai Koni amman, a form of the goddess in a temple in Coimbatore...



The fourth day, it was Bhavani, or correctly put, Tuja Bhavani, who presented a sword to Shivaji. Unfortunately, I rushed to the temple that day, and left my camera behind, so I have no pic!

The fifth day had a very interesting depiction - Dhumavati Chandi - a terrible form of the goddess where she is shown as a widow!



The sixth day it was Padmavathy, the consort of Sri Venkateswara...



The seventh day, the main figure was Vishnu as Varadaraja Perumal, but accompanied by SriDevi and BhuDevi. 



The eighth day, it was Mahishasura Mardini - the slayer of the demon Mahisha....



The ninth and final day showed her as Saraswati...


And with that, my Navaratri series comes to an end! I had wanted to post everyday, but we got so busy that  it was impossible! There were also so many more things I had wanted to do - such as visit the Ramleela and also a gujrati home, but we had time for neither. I am also in the process of writing stories of the different forms of the goddesses, so they should be up soon! Meanwhile, I cant help heave a sigh of relief that the festival is over!! Now for the clearing and packing! All our toys have to go back to the attic securely packed so that they can be used next year! Lots of work still to be done!! Meanwhile I can get back to my posts about other places and events! 

Comments

  1. Wow , thanks for the virtual festival celebration .

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  2. Nice to see the different forms of Goddess spanning over the nine days! I am sure, just like these beautiful forms, the stories would equally be mesmerizing as well!

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  3. Have loved reading your blog for the past few days. Your photos of the various golus are awesome and provide me with ideas for next golu! Please do have a look at my blog as well and give me your comments..

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  4. Wonderful post. The photographs are a real treat. (Is it because I got my cataract removed)

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  5. Arti, the stories are also equally interesting... just need to get them written :(

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  6. Thanks ! glad to have been of use! heading over to ur blog!

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  7. Thanks a lot! great to hear u got ur cataract removed.. now u can enjoy my blog even more!

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  8. This is very interesting. The pictures look great! Must have been a great experience.

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  9. Nice post, and I actually didn't know this :) Pictures look great...

    p.s. a small suggestion, the font used is difficult to read; maybe a simpler font (Calibri, Verdana, TNR etc) would suffice...

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  10. how do you pack?  what would you use for packing - clothes or papers?

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  11. Thanks Siddhartha! for the comment as well as the suggestion.... will do that soon :)

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  12. both, clothes and paper, Madhu! i first wrap the dolls individually in newspaper and then in an old cloth, usually soft cloth like used veshtis... and then they go inside a trunk... have realised that aluminium or steel trunks are better than the cardboard boxes... a couple of naphthalene balls in the trunk, and the whole pack is as fresh the next year.... and i replace the newspaper every year, though i re-use the cloth!

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  13. Lovely pictures Anu. Saw people throwing colors at each other at Havelock on the day of visarjan!

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  14. This is perhaps the first post I've read on Navratri, and I feel like I know so much more now! Innovative temple celebrations too :) Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Wow ! Great Navratri has come to an end and everything is packed now. So, what's next? :-)

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  16. Thanks Mridula!! wow! so the colour throwing seems to be a common thread all over India!

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  17. Yes! everything is at last back to normal! next is Diwali, but looks like I wll be travelling! more travel coming up!

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  18. Anu,
    Its a fabulous post.
    Julia

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  19. Great Navarathri Shots. I've posted about the Navarathri Kolu at my home. Do have a look at it, at my blog...
    Pond's UV Cream ReviewKalangal Kalyana Perumal

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  20. Thanks!!! heading straight over to your blog now.. missed a lot of posts during Navaratri

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  21. I love the way you make even a routine temple decoration sound so exclusive. The pics add to the charm. I didn't know that the goddess is given a widow's garb!

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  22. Rashmie | Mommy LabsOctober 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Very interesting post, Anu. The Goddess depicted as a widow seemed strange. I wonder what's the story behind it...! The pictures made a whole lot of impact and value added much. :)

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  23. Thanks so much, Zephyr! I didnt know about that either..had to come home and search for info! apparently, as the story goes, the goddess was hungry, so she asked shiva to get her some food.... he was too deep in meditation and didnt even notice her, so she got angry and swallowed him up! since shiva was inside her, she was a widow, and also shiva opened his 3rd eye so smoke started coming out of her, and finally she had no choice but to throw up Shiva! since she had eaten up her husband, she is shown as a widow! what a story, na!

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  24. THanks Rashmie! just mentioned the story in my earlier comment! am planning another post on that.. when i get the time :)

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  25. Really thank you so much for your informations. . . . . Your way of presentation and also photography also good. . . . . Pls continue posting like this. . . . . Again thank you so much. . . . . God bless you. . . . . Om shakthi. . . :)

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  26. interesting report. Thank you. Greetings Dietmut

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