Friday, 1 July 2011

Legend of Kanya Kumari

As with typical Indian pilgrimage centers many legends abound as to how Kanyakumari got its name.There are two theories that are popular one is centred around Kanyakumari – the virgin form of Parvati and the other is weave around Kumari , King Bharat’s daughter and Shakuntala’s grand daughter. Both these legends are discussed here.
Kanyakumari as form of Parashakti
According to legends, bathing at Kanyakumari is said to absolve all from sins and that is why for thousand of years Kanyakumari stands out as one of the main pilgrimage centers in India. There is an interesting tale behind the name as well as the sanctified waters of Kanyakumari. This story primarily involves 3 characters from Indian Mythology, Lord Shiva, Parvathy and a demon called Banasura Let’s see why.
Banasura wreaks havoc
Once upon a time a Demon king protected by a boon that he can be killed only by a virgin girl was wreaking havoc in both heaven and earth. Gods and sages were both tortured alike with gods driven out of heaven. Unrighteousness prevailed all around.
Mother Earth was so exasperated by the agony of her children that she couldn’t take it any longer.
Lord Vishnu suggests ways
She approached Lord Vishnu for help. Lord suggested that Devtas should pray to Parashakti as she alone has the power to humble Banasura. Accordingly Gods performed a Yagna to please Parashakti.
Parashakti’s advent from Yagna Fire
Pleased, Parashakti came out of fire in the form of a small girl and promised to bring to an end the demonic havoc created by Banasura. She asked them to be patient and wait for the opportune moment for killing Banasura.
Parashakti as Kanyakumari
Saying this she traveled to the southern most part of India and started meditating upon Lord Shiva. Eventually the small girl turned into a teenager. This is how this place came to be known as <span>Kanyakumari</span><span>. It </span>literally means a virgin teenaged girl.
Lord Shiva gets attracted towards Kanyakumari
Lord Shiva was attracted towards this beautiful form of Parashakti and wanted to marry her. According to the tale, Lord Shiva’s abode was considered at <span>Suchindram,</span>   just 15 kms from here. Parashakti also gave her nod to marriage and arrangements for this great marriage commenced.
Narada the trickster
Narada, the shrewd thinker that he is immediately understood what a potential danger in the making it was. If the virgin goddess Kanyakumari gets married then the chances of Banasura getting killed becomes impossible as he can be killed only by a virgin girl. He started devising ways to stall this marriage at any cost.
Narada first tried to confuse Parashakti. She asked Devi how sure she is that it was only Lord Shiva and not Banasura in disguise she would get married to. He suggested that Devi should ask Lord Shiva to come with 3 items that were impossible to find in the world. If he can produce them then only she should become sure that the bridegroom indeed was Siva. The 3 things were betel leaf without veins, coconut without eyes and a stalk of sugarcane without the mandatory stump-joints.
Lord Siva easily brought these items and the marriage proceedings continued as per schedule.
Lord Siva fooled
Narada though temporarily stunned had another ace up his sleeve to save Devas and saints. The marriage ceremony was fixed at midnight on an auspicious day. On the appointed day Lord Shiva with the marriage party in toe started his journey from Suchindram to Kanya Kumari`s place. As he was just 5 km from Suchindarm , Narada started playing his tricks. He assumed the form of a cock and crowed, to falsely announce that it is already dawn.Lord Siva fell into the guile of Narada and returned to Suchindram thinking that he was late for the appointed hour of marriage.
Devi Gets Angry                     
It is believed that when Shiva did not turn up at the marriage venue Kanya Kumari got really angry. She threw all the food items prepared for the guests. This food items eventually turned into small pebbles and the multi-coloured sands. That is why they are found in abundance on the shore of Kanyakumari.
Banasura killed as promised
Banasura on hearing Kanya Kumari`s beauty, decided to marry her. Devi refused him. The demon king insulted by the refusal tried to teach her a lesson. In the ensuing fierce   battle,  Devi Kanya Kumari slayed Banasura with chakra at a place called Mahadana Puram just 4 km north of Kanya Kumari.
At the time of his death, Banasura understood his follies and begger for her mercy. Devi is epitome of compassion she forgave and absolved him of his sins.

Kanyakumari continues Tapas      
The goddess was crest-fallen but did not let her disappointment come in the way of her dedication to Lord Shiva. Till this day she continues to perform austerities with the hope that one day she will unite with Siva. A beautiful temple stands dedicated to Devi Kumari on the shore of Kanyakumari.
Alternate Legend
Another theory is that king Bharat, the son of king Dushyant had sent his daughter ‘Kumari’ to the southernmost part of his empire to act as his representative and manage the affairs there. As this place was ruled by Kumari it came to be known as Kumari Nadu and the city where she lived was called Kumarinpadi that eventually became Kanyakumari.

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