Saturday, October 15, 2005

My Nagaraja - The Serpent God

Originally uploaded by trngam.

Kerala and Malayalis (Keralites) are wonderful & unique! I have meet many interesting people and travelled to the state on my own... again & again. I will soon try to share my opinions of both but before that let me explain these recent picture. The above picture is of Nagaraja.

This is a picture from my friends native home, where they have a temple for God Nagaraja (Naga: Snake. Raja: King). Its in their private land, shared by the entire extended family - a Nair family. This means only they have rights to it and that means me and you just cannot walk into pay our respects unless we know them. For that matter neither can the family themseleves enter the centre of this prayer area unless they have finished taking their bath and then again one must enter wet (&dripping) and for men this means barechest.In this case above the priest is cleaning and setting the place up for the puja to begin.

Anyways, the families have to co-ordinate their prayer dates in the year. Last week, was my friend & his close families slot to offer prayers to Nagarajav here. Offering are made as you see in the banana leaf in the picture and of course through prayers. In the middle of the leaf is a burning piece of long wood. The saffron powder on the leafs is 'haldi' (what do we say in English?.. Turmeric powder).

Of course you see a lot of flowers around too. The priest first sets the place up, cleans it and makes it ready. The prayers also include lighting of the lamps. These lamps are very traditional 'Kerala' and beautiful. Some quite heavy. Someone or the other will always takes care to keep them lit, throughout the year.

There are not many snakes around to see 'live'... at least you cannot see them at will. The forest density has reduced the numbers, but once you could see them around, I hear. Neverthless the temple includes a home for the God Nagaraja's manifestations to take shelter in. See the picture above.

I think this entire practise is so fine. Respecting the snake, a fellow living being and this case the Lord, with its role in the universe, is such a sense of being one with life? And if you do it in an environment that Kerala is, it builds such a nice feeling?

I think, Nagaraja, has been part of Kerala tradition since ancient times. There are numerous temples in his name in the state.

For me, Kerala is the place to visit in India. The reasons 'independent minds'; beautiful country; great & unique traditions; influence by the dutch, chinese, portugese, arabs and very very intelligent people who have huge patience in whatever they do. For me, Kerala is pretty much like Thailand minus the city life. In more ways than that meets our eyes. More about that later.


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