One can’t cover Kerala in one wandering or in one writing. Meandering through the endless roads of Kerala, one realizes that Kerala is not a state; it is a city, one mammoth city. None can infer where a town ends and the other begins. Consequently, at times, money orders from the Gulf have reached wrong persons in neighboring towns! Covered only in mundu, most of the times, Malayali men are all over the place, from dawn to dusk. Mundu, the other cousin of dhoti, is an all time attire: when draped around one, you can’t discern whether he is returning for the day or retiring for the day. The prolonged influence of the communists is all too evident; there is widespread awareness of rights than duties. Nothing, not even a coconut, comes cheap in Kerala. Thanks to their itching propensity to prosper quickly, the only people doing brisk business are the lottery agents who are as omnipresent as the divine beings. Talking of divinity, temples stand as a testament to the unwavering faith of the local populace in the Almighty and most temples have retained their reverential flavor, over the centuries. Priests, as peddlers of faith in God, have ensured longevity of the temple culture.
Every town boasts of a few majestic and resplendent temples that are not only distinct by their grandeur and expansiveness but have either a historical or a mythological linkage. And, when it comes to worship, Keralites strictly follow custom mandated rituals. In the two years that I was stationed there, I experienced the pleasure of visiting most of these famed places of worship. I must admit, of all the temples that I visited, Padmanabha Swamy temple, at Trivandrum, is the one that is most beautiful. Set in Dravidian style, it is an architectural marvel. The principal deity, Vishnu, is enshrined in the “Anantha Shayanam” posture, the eternal yogic sleep on the serpent Anantha or Adishesha. He is sleeping over a large quantity of undisclosed wealth, completely oblivious of the riches that lie beneath Him! The complete statue, though appears completely black, is of purest gold!! The affluent God, I was informed, now enjoys Z plus security, for his undeclared amount. A detailed inventory of the temple assets, consisting of gold, jewels, and other valuables is yet to be made. I recommend, during your sojourn to the God’s own country, you must pay a visit to this historical temple at Trivandrum and relish the wealthiest divinity, in all his splendor.
Kerala, without doubt, is a “ Land of the Lords” and a spiritual destination to those seeking Kaivalya. However, whether the Keralites have made the Gods famous or the Gods have made Kerala famous is a matter of conjecture. In Kerala, if you have observed the vehement objection to the ban on liquor, you would realize, not just ‘spirituality’, even for matters pertaining to ‘spirit’, they are pretty strict. ‘Spirits during the day and spirituality through the night’ is the magical mantra of their men for a happy living. Best time to visit Kerala is from November to January but that also is the worst time because of the Sabarimala season. Over these three months, majority of their men, adhering to their vrutham, circumambulate all the legendary temples in the state, finally culminating their yearly ritual by their sojourn to Sabarimala. Conspicuous by their black robe, recognized all over, they have a preferential passage to all the temples in the state during this period.
For most of you, work may be worship, but for many of their men, worship itself is work!