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DateLine Sunday, 13 January 2008

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In 'five corners' of the island

Historical Hindu temples of Lord Siva:

Nuguleswaram temple (Keerimalai Kovil)

Located in Northern part of Jaffna close to Kankeasanthurai. There is a cave complex close to the temple and is believed to be the hermitage of an ancient sage called Nugula Muni.

This temple was destroyed by Portuguese and reconstructed after four hundred years in about 1894 C.E. It was destroyed fire in 1918 and was reconstructed.

Due to the war conditions this temple is in the custody of Sri Lankan Army and devotees and priests have to seek prior permission to enter the temple premises.

***

Munneswaram Kovil

Also known as Muneswaram, Muniswaram and Munnicuvaram. Situated in Chilaw in the Puttalam District. Many Sinhala Buddhist devotees go on pilgrimage to this temple.

This temple is connected with Goddess Kali. Kali is known as a destructive Goddess and equally popular among the Sinhalese for curse and sorcery performances. This is associated with animal sacrifice and spiritual possession.

Munneswaran temple is mentioned in the Kokila Sandeshaya during the time of the Sinhala King Parakramabahu VI in Kotte. This was also destroyed by the Portuguese completely in 1578. Reconstruction was done in 1705 and again in 1875. Improvements were done again in 1919 and in 1963.

The annual festival continues 27 days in August and September. Festival starts with the hoisting of the temple flag.

The Day before the final festival they place God Siva's idol on a huge wooden chariot and which pulled it around the temple by devotees.

On the final day two large chariots gaily decked, are pulled along by devotees to the Deduru Oya review for the water-cutting ceremony.After the water cutting ceremony, the procession treks back to the temple along the decorated route through the Chilaw town, accompanied by traditional Hindu Nadaswaran music.

*****

Koneswaram temple

Koneswaram also known as Thirukoneswaram located in Trincomalee town. This temple is believed to have been a major religious shrine even before the arrival of Prince Wijaya, 2500 years ago.

This was ruined by the Portuguese and the main surface of this temple had taken out at festive season at that time. Portuguese soldiers had entered dressed as Brahmin priests and had plundered the temple. They had used the building materials of this temple to build Trincomalee Fort.

This has been later renovated by the Tamil Chola king from South India, Kulakottan.The present statues in the temple were found buried in a well in Trincomalee.After Independence it was rebuilt in 1952. But the size of the present temple is smaller than the original.

Indian devotees in large numbers travel from India to attend the annual festival time in Koneswaram.

***

Tondeswaram Kovil



Sivalingam

Situated in Galle town in Dondra head, which is also known as Dewinuwara located in a Sinhalese Buddhist oriented area, an important port in medieval Sri Lanka.

Although this is believed to be one of the five temples devoted to God Siva, after the destruction by the Portuguese. This was rebuilt by the locals but was more devoted to God Vishnu according to Buddhist tradition and is worshipped mostly by Buddhists, at present.

The long buried Sivalingam was found in Devinuwara in the foreground in the Othpilima Vihara.

***

Katheeswaram - Temple of planet Kethu, dedicated to God Siva.

Situated 7 miles away from the Mannar town. The history of this temple goes back to 2,500 years in the history. This temple had been maintained by South Indian merchant guilds.

Legendary sources reveal that Kethu Bhagavan worshipped Lord Shiva at this historic place and later it acquired the name Thirukatheeswaram.

This was destroyed by the Portuguese in their campaign to exterminate Hindu and Buddhist temples in 1505 A.C.E. After the destruction its ruminants had been used by Portuguese to build the Mannar Fort and a Catholic church.Reconstructed in 1910.

Further renovation of the temple which stands today, was done in 1976.The holy waters of the Palali tank is also venerated in the sacred hymns of two great Saivite saints who lived in 7 and 8 centuries.

Divine grace and blessings of this place for the followers of God Shiva in granting their wishes are numerous. This is the right place for those who have problems caused by planet Kethu (Kethu Dhosham).

***

The five major Kovils in Sri Lanka dedicated to God Siva are:

1. Nuguleswaram Kovil - North

2. Ketheeswaram Kovil - North West

3. Koneswaram Kovil - East

4. Munneswaram - West

5. Tondeswaram - South

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