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THE POWERFUL,POIGNANT STORY OF KANNAGI



THE AWESOME FURY OF A WOMAN WRONGED.

This is an epic story about a chaste Tamil woman named Kannagi who wreaked revenge on a powerful king and the capital of his kingdom for unjustly executing her innocent husband.

Kannagi features as the protagonist in a Tamil epic by name ‘Silappadhikaram’.  The title implies that this is a story involving a ‘chilambu’ or anklet.

Kannagi, a lovely woman, is wedded to Kovalan, who is the son of a rich man. The couple lives happily in a town called Kaveripattinam, till a new woman named Madhavi enters Kovalan’s life. Infatuated by Madhavi, Kovalan forgets the faithful Kannagi for some time, and spends both time and money on this illicit affair. Finally, when all his wealth is thus frittered away, Kovalan returns like a prodigal son to his wife’s loyal arms.

Kannagi epitomizes the amazing and true Indian loyalty of an Indian wife when she receives him back with love unhesitatingly, and even offers her only valuable possession- a pair of anklets- to be sold to get some money to enable their starting a new life.

The tragedy of ‘Silappadhikaram’ starts unfolding when Kovalan takes the pair of anklets to a city called Madurai, the capital of the Pandian kings. The Pandya  king ruling at that time was Nedunchezian.

At about the same time when Kovalan was trying to sell his wife’s anklets, a theft took place in the palace. An anklet belonging to the Pandya queen-unfortunately resembling the one possessed by Kovalan- was stolen by some courtier. As fate would have it, Kovalan, who was seen trying to sell Kannagi’s anklets was nabbed by the palace guards.

What followed was injustice of the highest order when Kovalan was summarily executed without any trial, his pleas of innocence falling on deaf ears.
If only the King had given a chance to poor Kovalan, he would have shown that his anklets contained rubies inside, unlike the Queen’s which had pearls inside.

A valuable life would have been spared and justice done.

It was a raging Kannagi, a woman like a volcano spewing red hot lava, who confronted the King with the crucial evidence which ought to have exonerated her beloved husband. Like a powerful cyclone, she lashes out at them in righteous anger and uncontrollable grief.

Unable to bear the stigma of the gross injustice done to an innocent man, the king and Queen die of shame, it is said. But this doesn’t satisfy Kannagi who curses that the entire city be consigned to flames for the wrong done by Madurai to Kovalan. It is written that the city actually started burning and there was loss of life and property before Kannagi forgave and withdrew her curse at the earnest request of the city’s Goddess.

Such was the power of the righteous wrath of a pure, chaste and dedicated wife.

Later, after venting out her fury, Kannagi proceeded southwards towards present day Kerala. By this time, her story had spread everywhere and people received her with awe and reverence wherever she went. In fact, there is a temple at a place called Attukal near Thiruvanthapuram, capital of Kerala State and another one at a place called Kodungallur near the famed Guruvayoor, where Sri Krishna temple is located.
The presiding deity at Kodungallur temple is also believed to be Kannagi, who, it is widely believed, made that place as her final destination.

In both Attukal and Kodungallur, worship of this powerful deity goes on every year, with their own special, exotic rituals.







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LINGUA-WOES

A Tamil gentleman nearly got clobbered when he appreciated the food served for lunch at his Telugu friend’s place.

The poor guy innocently said ‘Pramadham’ which means ‘Excellent’ in Tamil, but unfortunately means ‘Danger’ in Telugu!

‘Tamasha’ means ‘light stuff’, ‘Comedy’ etc in Malayalam, but beware if you use it flippantly with the Hindi speaking people.

Indiscreet use of this word- which means a street dance or something in Hindi- is not received kindly by them.

The simple word ‘Avasar’- which also is a Sanskrit root word- means ‘Occasion’ in Hindi; ‘Avasaram’ means ‘Requirement’ in Telugu; ‘Opportunity’ in Malayalam and ‘Hurry’ in Tamil!

There must of course be several such examples in the various languages ‘spooken’ in our delightful India.




RIGHT WRONG

Seeing her eyes glow in excitement,
Obviously though she has it all wrong,
I rush to grab the correction opportunity,

Till I have another look at the gleam in her eyes.

Hell, I think, let me be wrong a hundred times over,
If only to preserve that glorious joy,

Rather than prove her wrong
And watch her enthusiasm wither.

THULABARAM

There is, in the Lord's Abode in Guruvayoor,
A common balance for weighment of offerings.

It's called Thulabaram.

Only, it is anything but common.

A priest there is entrusted the task
Of weighing the offerings you committed
To Lord Krishna.

It may be a few kilos of some vegetable
Or fruit, grains or sugar or what you will.


But it got to be necessarily what you committed!

For,

Have seen with my own eyes
The priest struggling to weigh
A couple of kilos or maybe three
Of a certain vegetable, think it was yam.

But it simply wouldn't balance, though he
Kept on heaping the yam on it!

Then, on the priest's asking,
The devotee said he had thought
Of a different vegetable, maybe raw banana,

But had settled for yam since he couldn't
Get the banana.

The priest quickly removed the yam
Asked the devotee to be back
With the vegetable committed!

Only then, the priest said with conviction,

The weighment would happen.