|Kannagi Statue in Marina beach, Chennai|
Kannagi statue in Marina beach (pictured below) is a part of many political maneuvers in the last an present decades. We tend to take sides with the two political rivals on whether the statue needs to be there or not. However, the statue represents Kanangi, similar to Boudica of pre-Roman Britain. Understanding history and culture is essential to have a point of view on the cult of Kannagi.
Silappathikaram - a synopsis
Kannagi of Kaviripoompattinam married Kovalan from the same city in a marriage arranged by elders as per the customs of that time. Both Kannagi and Kovalan hailed from very rich family of merchants. Early portions of Silappathikaram deals with the detailed courtship of Kovalan and Kannagi and the romance of the arranged marriage. Kovalan, rich and famous, had contacts at the highest levels.
|Romance of Kovalan - Madhavi|
He accompanied the Chola king Nedumudikkilli to the arangettram of Madhavi, a young exotic dancer/courtesan, fell in love with her and left Kannagi for her. Madhavi started to lead a chaste life away from her dancing days and bore a daughter Manimekalai to Kovalan. As time went on, Kovalan's wealth dwindled and he broke up with Madhavi.
Kovalan then went back to Kannagi, who took him back with love and they decided to rebuild their life. They moved to Madurai, the capital city of Pandiyan where Kannagi offered her anklets to Kovalan to finance their new life. When Kovalan placed the anklets for sale, the goldsmith, who stole the anklet of the Queen consort of Pandiyan King, framed Kovalan. Paandiyan king on hearing same being angered very much, without having any formal inquiry or checking into the truth of same ordered his city-guards to behead Kovalan immediately, and the order was executed by his city-guards.
|Furious Kannagi in Pandyan court|
Manimekalai is the central character of the sequel to Silappathikaram.
The Construction of the first Kannaki templeChera King of that time, Cheran Chenguttuvan decided to build a temple for Kannagi and believed it to be of high esteem for emperer of his calibre to bring the stone required for the carving of the Kannaki statue at this proposed temple only from Himalayas instead of from a hilly region within Chera country. He went on an big expedition to the north crossed Ganges river were met the resistance thereafter of the other kings in the north headed by kings Kanakan and Vijayan. He waged war with them captured Kanakan and Visayan and proceeded to Himalayas cut out the stone required bathed same in holy Ganges river and made the two captive kings to carry same on their heads and came back to the Chera country. The lines "கனக விஜயனின் முடித்தலை நெறித்து, கல்லினை வைத்தான் சேர மகன்..." refers to this event.
Cheran Chenguttuvan instructed to his officers that on completion of the carving and the construction of the temple, a big consecration ceremony of the statue of Goddess Pattini in the temple built to be done with the statue dressed up with rich cloth and jewellery made by expert artisons, with floral sacrifices made and protective ornements fitted, the Velvi (fire sacrifice) and festival to be conducted daily to sanctify the Goddess.
The spread of Kannaki worship to other countries as stated in SilappathikaaramSilapathkaarem further states the new Paandiya king Vettrivel Cheliyan of Pandiya Nadu who succeeded Paandiyan Nedunchelian at Madurai, did Kala Velvi to Goddess Kannaki by killing 1000 goldsmiths and conducting saanthi ceremonial rituals, and the country prospered with fall of rain and free from he sickness and sufferings of the people after the great tragedy.
The Ilangkosar king of Kongu Nadu too did saanthi ceremonial rituals to Goddess Kannaki and his country too prospered with fall of rain.
The Chola king Perungkilli built a temple for Patthini Goddess who was considered as the one who gives boons in many ways at Uraiyur, and arranged daily worship at this temple.
The king Gayavaahu of ocean surrounded Ilangai (Sri Lanka) built a temple for Kannaki and an alter for daily offerings considering her as one who destroys evils and bestows favours, and in the month of August held a festival in the city taken several times there had been rain fall with unfailing agriculture and all prosperity.