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Sastha plays midwife

THE TEMPLE of Sri Porsadayachi and Sri Sadaiyudaiyar Sastha is situated among paddy fields surrounded by hills on the old Koprathope Road that connects Kalakkadu and Papanasam and Kizha Ambur villages skirting the Western Ghats. It is not a temple built according to the Agama sastras. There is no flag mast or prakarams. No utsavam is performed or festival celebrated. And it has a moving tale behind its origin.

A brahmin from Kizha Ambur was taking his pregnant daughter home for delivery. Dusk fell as they appraoched Pappankulam, a slight drizzle started and so did the girl's labour pain. The father desperately prayed to Sastha and looked around for help. Finding a hut nearby he approached it hoping to find a woman.

There was none and he returned crestfallen. But to his delight and relief he found that his daughter had delivered a boy and a dark skinned woman had played midwife. The girl did not know the woman's identity.

Sure that it was none other than Sastha who had appeared as a Harijan woman to save his daughter's life, the brahmin profusely thanked Him and offered whatever he had with him — raw rice and coconut that the girl was taking home from her husband's place.

He heard a voice that said that it was the deity, Sri Sadai Udayar of the temple located nearby, that had helped the girl and that she would give birth to eight sons all of whom would serve the Lord of that temple. The oracle came true and the tribe, known as ettu pillai kootathar, became staunch devotees of the Lord.

Sri Sastha of the temple is seen as an endearing child, in a standing posture. The members of the family, spread across the country, visit the temple now and then to offer worship. In the olden days Sri Sastha, Sri Raja Rajeswari and the other deities were housed in thatched sheds. Hence the temple, even after its develpoment, is referred to as kudisai.

The offering continues to be raw rice and coconut (kapparisi). Cooked food is not allowed. Only a learned priest from the family does the puja — once in a day and that in the morning. Devotees do not visit the temple after 5 p.m. During Thai all the members of the family (adimai as they are referred to) gather and offer worship in the night on all Fridays. Before the festivities, the Harijans in the neighbourhood are invited to Ambur and showered with gifts.

The members performed Kumbabhishekam in 1933 and 1969. Now they have made arrangements to conduct kumbabhishekam on June 30. For details contact K. Narayanan 04634-287337 and Uma Shankar 0462-2554487.

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