Madurai

Guides exposed to practical tourism

A view of the Rajagopuram of Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai.

A view of the Rajagopuram of Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai.   | Photo Credit: V_Ganesan

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Legends, rituals and beliefs dormant under tangible structures were brought out for the benefit of tourist guides to make their profession more responsible and ethical at a two-day workshop conducted by the Travel Club here last week.

Participants drawn from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Sri Lanka were exposed to a series of lectures on value addition provided by important places of the State to visitors by R. Venkatraman, former Professor of Art History, Madurai Kamaraj University, and V. Vedachalam, noted epigraphist. They took the participants on a tour of ancient culture that preceded the Vedic period and its manifestations in places of tourist importance, which included the Chennai region, with Mylapore Kapaleeswarar Temple as focus; Tiruchi region with Rockfort; Thanjavur region with Kumbakonam as the centre; Ramanathapuram region with Rameswaram in focus; and Madurai region with Jain vestiges in the forefront.

Museum of ethnic groups

Prof. Venkatraman, in his lecture on the significance of intangible heritage, explained how India became a museum of many ethnic groups with the arrival of people, especially those from Austric and Mediterranean cultures. All people were beneficiaries of a cosmic order and the ‘kolam’ drawn in the morning in front of homes was a symbol of that order.

Focussing on the spread of Saivism, Prof. Venkatraman described how Kapali, the god of cremation ground, came to be worshipped as Bairava and whose followers were in large numbers in Mylapore, coexisting with Digambar Jains. The Bakthi Movement transformed the worship of a “terrible god” into that of a “benign god” in the form of Eswara. He looked at Murugan cult as a syncretism of many gods like Skanda, Karthikeya, Visaka and Murugan.

Skanda, he said, was a youthful god with a lance, named after Alexander the Great. Alexander in Persian was Sikandar, which transformed in Sanskrit as Skanda, he said. Skanda was present in many temples of North India even when Alexander was alive. Murugan, who was confined to the Kurinji land as its god, was later made a universal god of Tamils. He also spoke about the importance of Kumbakonam and its association with Lakulisa of Gujarat and Mahamaham.

Dr. Vedachalam dwelt at length on the Sethu Nadu and its association with Rome and the architectural importance of Kancheepuram, especially Kailasanathar Temple. He said that a visit to Madurai would not be complete without seeing the Jain vestiges around it.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 4:13:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/Guides-exposed-to-practical-tourism/article14628869.ece

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