Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sri Sahasralingeshwara Temple, Uppinangady

Uppinangady is a small temple town in coastal Karnataka whose beauty is doubled by the sacred sangama of two prominent rivers of Dakshina Kannada – Netravathi and Kumaradhara. This town is regarded as the Dakshina Kashi or Gayapada Kshetra as people perform the last rites as Hindus do in Kashi, Rameshwara and Gokarna. More over, it is the only second sangama Kshetra in Karnataka, next to Koodala Sangama in Shimoga. Situated adjacent to NH 17 about 60 Kms from Mangalore, Uppinangady (meaning the salt shop) has gained religious, cultural and commercial importance.

The Sahasralingeshwara Temple here is known all over the south and we find thousand of lingas all over the banks of these two rivers. Every stone here is treated as Shivalinga. As a result, Swami Vadiraja Crawled on his knees and worshiped Lord Shiva to avoid stamping on linjgas

To quote a story from Skanda Puran, Bheemasena, the strongest of the Pandavas who was on the duty of Rajasooya Yaga, was attacked by Purusha Mruga, a giant animal. To escape from the clutches of Purusha Murga, Bheema droped a hair on the ground, which soon turned into a linga. Being the adorer of lord Shiva, Purusha Murga took a hault to worship shiva, allowing Bheema to escape. Whenever Purusha Mruga was about to catch him, Bheema dropped a hair, forcing the gaint to take a pause and offer worship. Finally Bheema dropped a handful of hair which soon took the form of thousands of Linga.Purusha Mruga took more time to worship every linga which helped Bheema to escape. This place was none other than Uppinangady.

The book Shree Gayapada Kshetra Mahathmyavu, edited by Purohitha Palthila Anantha Bhat (1910) hints at the existence of thousands of lingas in the river

Probably the Sahasralingeshwara temple is 2500 years old and the present structure probably belongs to 13th century. The original linga is hidden in sand on the bank of river Netravathi to the left of the temple. During annual festival, the sand is removed and a temporary structure is constructed of Lord Sahasralingeshwara. It is very difficult to remove the entire sand covering the lingas every year as it gets filled during rainy seasons

It is beived that the river Netravathi took its birth from the tears of Varaha, the third avatara of Lord Vishnu. The river Kumaradhara is originated at Kumaraparvatha and reaches Uppinagady crossing Subramanya. Kumaradhara joins Netravathi at Uppinagady, affecting the sacred sangama. During heavy down pour in rainy season, these two rivers get united in front of Lord Sahasralingeshwara. It is an auspicious occasion for people to take holy bath (Sangama Snana) and worship Lord Shiva, which assures eternal purity and Moksha after death. A Number of devotes throng this temple on holy occasion like Mokhe Jathre and take holy bath

Goddess Mahakali
The people of coastal Karnataka also worship Kali, the mother goddess of Bengalis. The Mahakali has a separate shrine here on the banks of river Nethravathi holding the trisen, trishula, khadga, damaruga and a bowl of beverage in her hands.
The goddess Adhishakthi took the form of Mahakali to destroy the wicked spirits of demon Rakthabeejasura. We can find the Co-existance of Shiva Parvathi and Kali Rudra in most of the temples. Lord Kala Bhairava also finds a place here Kumkumarchane and Boolya (Ranga pooja) are favourite forms of worship for Mahakali. People worship Kali when attacked by epidemic diseases.

The Second type of worship called Mecchi Nema is also offered to goddess every year. A ‘Pathri’ plays a major role during this festival, which takes place on second Makhe Jathre

A New shrine was constructed in 1934 and renowned sculptor Ranjala Gopal Shenoy carved the idol in 1953 without accepting any remuneration.

Makhe Jathre
Makhe Jathre is held thrice in one year on a full moon day (Pournami) of Magha month, Krishnapaksha Ashtami of Maghamasa and on Shivarathri. If Shivarathri occurs early, the festival continues to 22 days till Ashtami. If it is commenced from full moon day, the festival lasts for 15 days. Madimmaya – Madimmal (Bride – Bridegroom) or Kanyapu dance is an integral part of the festival. The Kalkuda Shrine is also said to be ancestral. 

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