Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The way in which the name of this temple in Mylapore is spoken conjures up a rather awkward image of its principal deity. The fast paced description of this as "முண்டகண்ணி அம்மன்" (mundakanni amman) indicates eyes in a headless form; the actual name "முண்டகக்கண்ணி அம்மன்" (mundakakanni amman) conveys more elegance, of the lotus-eyed one. That is only one of the oddities about this temple to the Goddess in the form of Saraswati.
For starters, the temple's main deity is "svyambhu", having appeared spontaneously over 1,300 years ago. Of course, there is little evidence to support this belief, but it is agreed that it has been around for a few generations here. The sanctum is covered with a thatched roof, as it is believed that it is the best way for the Goddess to remain cool, being surrounded by natural materials. A banyan tree grows right behind the sanctum, adding to the cool of the temple.
The banyan is also home to the nagadevatha, the snake Goddess. Devotees coming to worship Saraswati are also advised to propitiate the snakes. To this end, one can get a puja package that includes an egg - something that is taboo at almost every other temple. The egg, and milk, are offered to the snake Goddess along with flowers for the main deity!