|The Goddess Kali worshipped by Tamil Poet Kambar|
A small tin sheet board with fading letters, used to catch my attention while travelling from Thiruvennainallur , to Sirumadurai where my in-laws live. With the words Vaidhehi Electricals occupying the best part of the board, the letters half visible would read " Kamban Vazhipatta Kali Kovilukku Sellum Vazhi" (Way to the Kali temple worshipped by the Tamil Poet Kambar). Every time I read the board, I would make a mental note to visit the temple. However, the time, somehow, did not come true.
About a year ago, I noticed the tin sheet board had been replaced with a concrete board with the details painted in bright colours. When I asked my father-in-law about it, he said that the temple had been renovated, and there were a number of children who came there to study every day. This gave me immense satisfaction, because I strongly believe that places of worship in villages should become part of social infrastructure and take a place in community development.
This Pongal we decided to visit the temple on our way back from Thiruvennainallur.We were soon at the board reading "Chinna Sevalai". The path that lead from the main road was clearly not meant for vehicle transport beyond a few metres. When we asked for directions, we were asked to park our car there and start walking.
|At the point from where one has to walk to reach the temple|
There were a couple of houses with thatched roofs at the beginning of the lane, after which one had to directly walk through the fields. The recently harvested sugarcane stubs and the high tension electricity wires hanging low were a potential threat as we slowly made our way towards the temple.
|Way to the temple|
In the middle of the greenery, one could see two brightly coloured shrines on either side of the lone statue that stood in the open field. As we went closer , we could see that the two shrines on either side were of recent times, and contained idols of Ganesha and Subramanya. Probably these were installed during the recent renovation.
|The temple is visible amongst the trees and the greenery|
My mind raced in excitement as I thought Here I am ....at the very place where Kambar - the Illustrious Tamil Poet who wrote Kamba Ramayana, must have lived and played in his childhood. Born in a village called Therezhundhur in Tamilnadu, Kambar and his mother moved to Tiruvennainallur in search of livelihood.
Here, they were offered shelter and support by Sadaiyappar, a rich farmer, popularly called Sadaiyappa Vallal, because of his generosity and philanthropy.
Every morning, Sadaiyappa Vallal used to go to his fields on the outskirts of Thiruvennainallur. After inspecting the fields, he took bath in the nearby stream, and prayed to Goddess Kali who stood in the middle of his fields. Once Kambar came into Sadaiyappar's household, the farmer took the young boy along with him everyday when he went to worship Kali. From the very first day, Goddess Kali's divine and compassionate look had fallen on the young boy.
Seeing the boy's keen interest in studies, Sadaiyappar made arrangements to teach him Sanskrit and Tamil. Soon he was well versed in both languages. Whenever he desired, Sadaiyappar used to ask Kambar to read Sanskrit verses and poems and explain the contents to him in Tamil. Kambar's grasp of languages, and his excellent translation skills, made Sadaiyappar think how good it would be if Kambar could translate an epic into Tamil thereby making it easy for anyone to read and understand the whole story, even if they did not have an understanding of Sanskrit.
It was here, in the presence of this Kali, that Sadaiyappar expressed his desire for Kambar to translate the Valmiki Ramayana into Tamil, to which Kambar readily agreed. The auspicious inauguration of "Ramakaadhai" happened at this very place.
The goddess stands in open air on a raised platform. No one knows the exact time from which she has been there, although people claim that she could be over 2000 years old. The idol is so old and blackened with oil and camphor that the features are not clearly identifiable. The best part of her body was covered by a Saree. I was tempted to take a picture of the entire idol, but was worried about incurring the villagers' wrath if I attempted that.
As she is reckoned as the Goddess who made Kambar a scholar, several children come to this temple to study. People who visit here brings fruits and biscuits for the children. Several others bring their children to pray to her before exams or important events. The Goddess stands here, granting Gnana to all those who seek her. Better transport facilities and better awareness about the existence of this temple could bring many many more people here who could benefit from her benevolence.
|Bells above the Kali temple|
How to reach here:
By road: Turn at Arasur if you are travelling on NH 45 - right if you are travelling from Chennai and Left if you are travelling from Trichy or elsewhere down south. About Seven kms down the road, you will reach Thiruvennainallur. At Thiruvennainallur, turn right on the road that goes to Thirukoilur. A couple of kilometres down the road, you will come across the cement board on the right side that shows the direction towards "Chinna Sevalai
By bus: Buses plying between Villupuram and Thirukovilur via Thiruvennainallur stop at Chinna Sevalai Village. One has to walk about 200 metres from the bus stand to reach the temple.
By train: Nearest railway station - Villupuram. I think Villupuram - Trichy passenger stops at Thiruvennainallur road although the exact timings are to be verified
By air: Nearest airports - Trichy and Chennai
Temple Timings: The temple is open all through the day.