Category Archives: Hinduism

Exploring the Etymological Strands of the Word “Thiruketheeswaram”

Chandre Dharmawardana

The word stub “ket,”, கேத, in the place name:  Tiru-k-keteeswaram,  திருக்கேதீசுவரம்

In finding a meaning for the component –ket– in Tiru-ket-heesvaram, well known Engineer Thiru Arumugam has quoted an interpretation given in 1849 by Pridham which leans on a mythological tale of Vishnu’s exlir of mortality that fell into the hands of a demon. The demon was said to be cut into two and became Rahu and Ketu (.இராகு கேது) recognized in astrology.  Predham stretches his imagination very far to convert the Tamil -கேத- sound to கேது in finding  an “explanation” or rationalization for the stub  -கேத- found in the place name.

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Thiruketheeswaram: the Site of a Temple from Pre-Historic Times

Thiru Arumugam, being an article presented recently in The CEYLANKAN, Journal of the Ceylon Society of Australia. No. 3, August 2021

Thiruketheeswaram is located about eight km north of Mannar Town. It is on the coastal mainland of Ceylon, near the seashore on the direct coast road from Mannar to Jaffna. It has been the site of a Temple dedicated to Siva from pre-historic times. The place name of Thiru-Kethu-Iswaram has been devised as follows.  ‘Thiru’ means sacred or holy and “Iswaran” is another name for Siva. As regards ‘Kethu’, Charles Pridham in his 1849 book A Historical, Political and Statistical account of Ceylon and its Dependencies describes how the gods asked Vishnu to prepare an elixir which would make them immortal. The elixir was prepared by churning the oceans but a demon who was a bystander also managed to drink the elixir. When Vishnu realised this, he cut off the demon’s head, but he was too late as the elixir had already made him immortal. The two parts became Rahu and Kethu, which are significant planets in the Hindu astrological system. In order to propitiate his sin, Kethu (Fig. 1) wandered from place to place and ultimately reached the shores of Lanka. He performed severe penances and he   was ultimately blessed with the Lord’s vision and the place where this occurred was named Thiru-Kethu-Iswaram or Thiruketheeswaram.

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In Search of Archaic Practices & Features in Ancient and Medieval Lanka

Two foreign personnel, one a British man and the other a Taiwanese Chinese lady, have developed a deep interest in Sri Lanka and a considerable  äcquaintance”, so to speak. with the land and its peAnswer: perhaps Sigiriya?oples, and have recently sent me these fascinating inquiries on arcane topics. Michael Roberts

ONE:  A NOTE from Lewis Bower [i], late February 2021

 Have you heard the term “Argyra” before? It was mentioned in Stephanus of Byzantium’s contribution to the geographical dictionary Ethnica to describe a “thriving metropolis” that he came across on his travels of Sri Lanka… Typing that made me feel like I’m on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.

We’re talking 5th/6th Century AD so I’d be really interested to find out where he was talking about,”

… Answer: perhaps Sigiriya? … Michael Roberts

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Myth-making Ridiculous: Raavana on Fire!

Grace Bains in  Scoopwhoop where the title is A Demon For Us But A Hero For Sri Lankans, The Fascinating Story Of Ravana, According To Lanka” and Chandre Dharmawardena, in Island, 11 September 2020

As we celebrate Dussehra, we recount Ramayana and the lessons that come with it. For us, the Ramayana isn’t just a story of Lord Rama winning over Ravana and rescuing Sita. It is about good winning over evil despite the many obstacles. It is the story that gives Indians hope and motivation to keep fighting for what they know is right.

But we all know that every story has two sides.

Source: Daily Mirror

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Cultural Cross-Fertilization as the Road to Amity

Raj Gonsalkorale, in DailyFT, 4 August 2020, with this title “The Northern Province: The centre for Tamil culture in Sri Lanka”

As much as the Sinhala Buddhist culture and its richness should be recognized, the Tamil culture, in particular the Tamil Hindu culture and its universality, too needs to be recognized. All Sri Lankans should be proud that the country has two such ancient cultures as its foundations.

– Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

http://www.ft.lk/columns/The-Northern-Province-The-centre-for-Tamil-culture-in-Sri-Lanka/4-704036

 

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. … The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture.

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Sacrificial Devotion in Comparative Perspective: A Workshop at Adelaide University in Late 2005

Daya ….. Rohan…. Shyam…. Riaz ….. what a South Asian spread! …………………. a dinkie-die curry’

I = Michael Roberts: An Explanatory Preamble Cast in May 2020

By 2004 I had retired from teaching in the Anthropology Department at Adelaide University and was proceeding with the pursuit of my research interests at my own pace within my limited resources. Sri Lanka and my connections therein was one such resource. When researching in Colombo in late November 2004 I flew to Jaffna on a wing and a prayer[1] with the intention of exploring the Tamil Tiger “cult of suicide.” Previous contacts with two Tamil Canadians and a visit to the University of Jaffna as soon as I landed assisted me no end: partly via the invaluable support provided by the Krishnaswamy family[2] and the readiness of their medical student son Chenthan to become my aide and guide during peregrinations within the Peninsula.[3]

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Chettinad’s Palaces in View

T. S. Subramanium,in Frontline, 7 December 2018, with photos by Velankanni Raj …. where the title runs “The Palaces of Chettinad”

The palatial decorated homes of Chettiars in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu are symbols of a colonial-era architectural heritage marked by opulence. The stately mansions of Nattukottai Chettiars of the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu are a statement of the affluence the mercantile community enjoyed at the height of its prosperity during the British Raj. The palatial houses, with the built-up area measuring anywhere between 20,000 square feet (1,858 sq. metres) and 70,000 sq. ft (6,503 sq. m), were mostly built in the period between the early 1800s and the 1940s. The Chettiars had set up flourishing trading and business enterprises in Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (including Java and Sumatra), Vietnam, Mauritius and the Philippines.

       At the Chettinad palace, a large patio with “thinnais”

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Tamil Tigers: Dead Body Politics and Sacrificial Devotion

Michael Roberts, reproducing here an article  entitled “Tamil Tigers:  Sacrificial symbolism and ‘dead body politics’,” that was first presented in  Anthropology Today, June 2008,  vol.  24/3: 22-23. The re-working of this article was seen to by Ms Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Battaramulla.

Scholars and journalists often mistakenly treat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) as a ‘secular organization’ at a time when stereotypes of the Islamic ‘terrorist’ or ‘Hindu fundamentalist’ dominate popular thinking about political extremism. Political scientists devote space to the Tamil Tigers in their global surveys of what they term ‘suicide terrorism’.[1] Recently, Roland Buerk of the BBC presented a similar view: ‘They are not religious and believe that there is nothing after death. Their fanaticism is born of indoctrination from childhood.[2]

Tiger fighters relax in camp but retain their kuppi with cyanide in chainsaround neck-Pic by Shyam Tekwani c.1989 whne embedded among the LTTE

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Visvakarma’s Celestial Manifestatations in Asia and Sri Lanka

Lopamudra Maitra Bajpai, in newsin.asia, 17 September 2018, where the title reads “Vishwakarma, the celestial architect who built Sri Lanka”

The Vishwakarma puja, which was observed on September 17, is not restricted to India but is observed in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The puja closely follows the celebration of the Ganapati festival. In some places, it is performed the day after Diwali in October or November.

Vishwakarma puja or Kanya Sankranti is celebrated in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand in North India; Karnataka in the south; and Assam, West Bengal Odisha and Tripura in the east, in honour of Vishwakarma – the celestial architect.

Vishwakarma idols of Bengal made of clay

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Potency, Power and People in Groups– British Ceylon to Modern Times via Pictures

  Penance on road, Sri Maurpthy Pathirikaali Temple, 2009

This book is both a display and a reflective exercise on the power of imagery, whether from camera or painting or etching. Images can be as captivating as seductive as misleading.  They can serve as raw data that provides glimpses of facets of life lost to the modern generations. They must, of course, be deployed by social scientists with attention to context and in association with other forms of data.

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