By Sandrasegarampillai Jayachandren
We are blessed indeed to witness the Kumbabishekam at Koneswaram in 2015. May Koneswarar (Lord Shiva) with His consort Hamsahamanampiga Mathumamba Devi (Parvathi) bless us all at all places and at all times.
Koneswaram is situated at 8º 35´ N / 81º 11´ E Latitude / Longitude as same as some of the holy Hindu shrines such as Mount Kailas at 31º 4´ / N / 81º 18´ E, Thiruvannamalai at 12º 13´ N /79º 4´ E, Chithamparam at 11º 23´ N / 79º 41´ E and Kathirkamam at 6º 24´/ 81º20´. You can notice that all these shrines are lying in a straight line somewhat nearly close to the same Longitude line.
The American geologist Paul Robson stated that Thiruvannamalai was the first Lava thrown out of the crust of the earth. Koneswaram could also be a portion of the same lava.
Dakshina Kailasa Manmiyam, Dachana Kailasortpathi kalam in Skandapurana, the book that belongs to the 5th century before Christ, speaks of the period when Dakshina Kailas, Koneswaram came into existence.
Vayu Devan ( God of Wind ) for the betterment and prosperity of the world at large established this Dakshina Kailasa mountain ( Konewaram- South Kailas ) on the North of the Thirikooda mountain. Trincomalee is also known as Thiri Kona Malai meaning three mountains in an angle-a triangle of three hills, namely Konesa Malai ( Swamy Rock ) in Fort Fredrick, Kandasamy Mallai in Austernberg and Uvar Malai ( Orrr”s Hill) in Plantain Point.
The sanskrit sloka reads as “ On the auspicious day in Vasantha rithu (Spring) in the month of Chitrai ( April ) on a Sunday when the nakshatra the constalation was Hastha on Virutha yuga, on a Full_Moon day at the auspicious hour ruled by Jupiter ( Guru Horai ) and the Lagna being Rishaba (Taurus), when the Sun entered the Tropic of Capricurn ( Makara – Utharayana )
Lieutenant Colonel G.P. Thomas R.A. in his book “The History of Trincomalee” written and published by him in August 1940, states:“ The story of Trincomalee begins so far back as in the dim ages, that much of it is lost; and what remains is in the form of poetry and legends”. Further he says, “ The date of the building of the original temple is recorded in a Tamil poem by Kavi Raja Varotayan as early as 1589 B.C.”
Further Lieut Colonel G.P. Thomas, notes in his book, that “the beautiful temple at Konesar Malai ( Trincomalee ) was demolished by Constantine de Sa, and its delicately sculptured stones and pillars formed into the ramparts of Fort Fredrick”. It was on the Tamil_Hindu New year in April 1623 that the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.
From that time onward people deserted the place and only after 1802 when Ceylon became a crown colony, peace prevailed, religious privileges regained and the worship of Koneswaram would have commenced.
It was pre-war days. It was before the Japanese raid bombing on Trincomalee. It was round about 1938, I could remember going to Koneswaram for worship on Fridays. Devotees were allowed to perform poojas only on Fridays and Mondays. Those were the only two days civilians were allowed to enter the Fort Fredrick and solely for the purpose of performing poojas and worshiping our Lord Mathuami sametha Koneswara Swamy. That too escorted with the British army. On Mondays, pooja was performed by Brahmin Priest Brahma Sri Sivasubramania Kurukkal and on Fridays pooja was performed by Vaitheeswara Kurukal, Sangama priest.
As far as I could recollect, we used to go in a cart drawn by a bull. The cart would go up to the Gate of Fort Fredrick. Thereafter we had to line up in a queue. The priest would be in the front as the first person in the queue and then the helpers of the priest would follow. Thereafter only, the devotees with their families would join the queue.
The small door attached to the Main big gate of the Fort Fredric would be opened, and we had to bend our body and one by one move to gain entrance into the Fort. When the whole crowd had accessed the Fort, the queue of priests, helpers and devotees would be escorted by the British military personnel and all of us had to march up to Swamy Rock. There we would flock together near the edge of the mountain looking at the open sky and looking down at the vast blue water of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The priest would start performing the pooja standing down on a rock where a Kal_aal tree which is even present today.
That tree is the sthala virucham of Kneswaram and the sthala theertham being Papanaasam which is situated inside Fort Fredrick at Mango Groove near Ettna Barracks. The sthala Moorthy is Mathumam ambiga sametha Konanatha swamy, sung by the Saivaite Saint Thhirugnanasambanthar in the 13th century. Till 1950 or so, the pooja was performed at the same Rock facing the North over lapping on to the sea. Even to this day, it is continued, and is known as Malai Pooja, meaning the worship of the Mount, or worship at or on the mount.
And it was on a Thursday in the early hours of forenoon on the 27 th day of July 1950, Trincomalee Urban Council employers were digging a well for the people residing at the North Coast Road Trincomalee. It was awesome. The workers struck at some metal object at the depth of three feet from the ground. To their great surprise they excavated three bronze statues. One the premier object a statue of Lord Shiva- Somaskanda Moortham, the other the statue of the consort of Somaskanda and the third Chandrasekara moortham.
This incident made a great explicit change not only to Koneswaram but to every single soul of the entire Hindu community around the world living in all places and at all times. These three statues were taken around whole of Trincomalee District. For that purpose, before they were taken around they were placed at the house of former Parliamentarian N.R.Rajawarothayam, who escorted the deities taken around Trincomalee District for the dharsan, and at the house of Mr.S.Sivapalan, the President of the Punarutharana Sabai of Koneswaram temple (Restoration Committee of Konesar temple).
I had a divine blessing to view the deities with religious fervour late at night.
Four statues had been found a few months early and the story came up that they were excavated entwined amongst the root of a coconut tree.
The four of them were Ganesha; seated Parvathy and a Thrusulam and a statue of the bird hamsam (Annam);
Some where in 1946 when I was 11 years old and studying in the sixth standard at St,Josephs College, Trincomalee, we as students heard that two statues of stones, Vishnu and Luxmy were excavated and were placed at the Health Unit Office near the Viloontry Kandaswamy Temple at the Customs Road. I with my classmates went and saw these deities. These two statues were installed at Koneswaram now and poojas are performed.
In 1963, after a lapse of 140 years of demolishment, the new temple stood up and the first Kumbabishekam took place under the patronage of N.R Rajawarothayam. In 1964, during the first Mahottsavam of the Lord Konewarar held under the patronage of Dr. S.Sithiravelu, as President, I had had the Blessings for supplying Kusha Grass ( Thatpai} continuously for three years. I wa working at the Kandy Magistrate’s Court, and following a request by Dr.S.Sithiravelu, I sent the Thatpai from Kandy.
Now as far as this Kumbabishekam is concerned it is a repetition of the Kumbabishekam performed once in every 12 years. ‘The Lord, the God is all pervading. He is: He was: He will be. It is That that Is’: This all pervading God is in the Atmosphere. By the recital of Mantras and due to the High frequency of vibration, there is created spiritual energy which is brought down through the wind and to the fire and by nadi santhanam through the thread that passes on into the water inside the Kumbam that is placed in the Yajgna (Fire worship) performed, The Holy Water sanctified by the vibration of the Mantras manifested and filled with Divine energy settles the Divine Blessings, Divine Grace and Divine Will on to the Sanctified Deities installed in the shrine. Each and every deity and each and every kalasam placed on top of each and every shrine are too bathed by the holy water.
We pray that Lord;s presence is felt by all and every one on this auspicious day. May Mathumaambiga Devi sametha Konanatheeswarar shower His Divine Blessing on you One and All.