29 April 2015
Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin as it is popularly known, is the southern-most point in India. The town is noteworthy for it is located at the confluence of the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the three massive water bodies that surround the Indian peninsula. Devotees soak themselves in these waters in the belief that these waters hold divine powers that wash away their sins. The name Kanyakumari itself is derived from the name of a Hindu deity just like many other Indian cities. The name is attributed to Goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, the sister of the Hindu God Krishna. The Kanya Kumari temple is dedicated to this deity and attracts fervent followers from all across the country. The temple is also believed to be one of the 51 Shakti peethas in the Indian subcontinent. A Shakti peetha (peetha means abode) is a Hindu temple ordained to the Goddess Shakti (also known as Sati), the principal female deity of the Hindu religion. Unlike other Shakti peethas, the Goddess here is in the form of an adolescent child and she is said to bestow upon her worshippers a peace of mind and a tranquil life. Some ardent believers who have difficulties finding a good life partner even believe that worshipping her would bring them suitable marital prospects. Surprisingly, she is also perceived as a symbol of sanyasa which is a stage in a devout Hindu’s life that involves renunciation of all worldly and materialistic possessions. Though the exact date of construction of the temple is not clearly known, the shrine is believe to be many a century old as it finds a mention in ancient Sanskrit literature such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Though the temple is located in the state of Tamil Nadu, the rites and rituals performed in the temple mirror that of a typical temple in Kerala, the neighbouring state. This is because the town was a part of Travancore state (erstwhile name of Kerala) until 1956 when the Government of India deemed Kanyakumari to be a part of Tamil Nadu. Though the town swapped states, the traditions continue to be carried across generations.