It would be intriguing to see a small but well-maintained Buddha temple in a nondescript agrarian village with hardly any followers of the Tathagata. Located at Kakkayur on the outskirts of Chittur town, the temple is attracting a large number of people.
The shrine is built beneath a Bodhi tree (Pipal tree), grown from a seed collected by a local farmer about 65 years ago from Bodhgaya. “The seed was collected by my maternal grandfather Kuttikrishnan Nair from the same Bodhi tree under which the Buddha meditated. A devout Hindu, he used to travel around the country inspired by traditions and cultures. He brought the seed from Bodhgaya and planted it here,’’ says E.V. Gopinathan, owner the land on which the temple located.
Kuttikrishnan Nair constructed the temple using his own resources. The Mahabodhi Movement in Chennai was contacted for the Buddha idol to be installed in the temple. The idol, believed to have been made in Colombo, has Sinhalese inscriptions on it.
“The temple has been lending a distinct identity to the Kakkayur village for the last six decades. Though there is no Buddhist family in the village, its residents are now taking turns to light candles on a daily basis in the temple. On occasions like Buddha Poornima, followers of Buddhist ideals from the State and outside gather at the temple to pay homage to the Buddha,” says S. Guruvayurappan, a local resident and noted environmentalist.
“Though Buddhism was widespread in Kerala once, this region is was not among the Buddhist centres. It may be one among the few Buddha temples built and maintained by people of other faiths,” says Haridas of the Kerala Mahabodhi Mission.
The mission has over 1,000 followers in the district and they assemble at the temple on Buddha Poornima. The mission is running a meditation centre and Buddhist library in Palakkad town.