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(Pics by Sakuna M Gamage)

During the three decades when the armed conflict existed, people – Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Catholics-suffered, especially those who resided in war-torn areas. It’s no surprise that they need larger statues of Gods or big temples or kovils to frequent, to tell the Gods what they had endured. Some have complaints, big ones, and some are extremely thankful now that they can walk freely.

In Maruthanarmadam, Inuvil in Chunnakam, Jaffna there is a huge statue which at once grabs the attention of a traveler.  This statue of God Hanuman stands tall amidst the busy Chunnakam town, taking his stance of Maruti as the courageous one, ready for battle. “The statue of Hanuman is 72 feet tall,” says the Chief Priest of the Sri Sunthara Anchaneyar Kovil, Sivasri R Sundareswara Kurukkal. This statue was built by a group of artists who specially travelled to Sri Lanka to renovate the Kovil.

Hanuman prayers are believed to help people to overcome negative attitude and induce courage. He said that betel leaves, aarlands – a special kind of vadei, gee and Tulasi plant holds a special place among the offerings made to lord Hanuman

According to the chief priest, this Hanuman temple was first built following a dream the founder of the kovil had. He said that the signs of the dream indicated that he build a hanuman kovil at this place. The foundation for the temple had been laid in 1999 and the first grand pooja festival – Kumbaabishekam of the temple was held in January 15, 2001 which marked its opening.

“Hanuman is the God for air,” Sundareswara Kurukkal said adding that Lord Hanuman is worshiped for his courage, intelligence, strength and the power of speaking and predicting the future.  This is the same reason why there are so many devotees coming to worship lord Hanuman on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He said that these are the three special days to worship lord Hanuman.

According to Hindu mythology Hanuman is the first God in the form of a Vanara (Ape) and there are several beliefs regarding how he was born. Some consider him to be incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. Some say he is a son of Shiva and Parvathi. However, as Sundareswara Kurukkal explained, Hanuman was born as the son of Anjana, a female apsara who has been turned in to a monkey by a curse, and the wind god Vayu.  Hanuman is known more for his own devotion to Rama than being God; all that while being equal to Rama in power and divinity.

According to Valmiki’s Ramayana, Hanuman met Rama whilst Rama was in banishment. Rama, together with his brother Lakshamana, was searching for his wife Sita who was abducted by Ravana from Lanka. Hanuman goes off in search of Sita, discovers and consoles Sita in Lanka. He burns Lanka and kills many demons. He brings together Vibhishana and Rama, returns to Lanka with Lord Rama, and plays a significant role in the battle that ensues between Rama and Ravana. It is also said that Hanuman saves the life of Lakshmana by bringing the Sanjivani (life giving herb) from the Himalayas. He served Lord Rama for as long as He lived a human life on earth.

Karthigesan is a devotee who visits the Kovil in Inuvil every Saturday to invoke blessings. The Monkey God is often being worshipped for bringing happiness and prosperity in the family. Karthigesan said that people come to this Kovil with the prime intention of seeking blessings when they are in search of foreign jobs, during weddings and when they want good health. Also, Hanuman prayers are believed to help people to overcome negative attitude and induce courage. He said that betel leaves, aarlands – a special kind of vadei, gee and Tulasi plant holds a special place among the offerings made to lord Hanuman.
Women are not allowed to touch the idol of Lord Hanuman. They can enter the temple and pray, but they cannot touch the statue as he was a Brahmachari. It is a symbolic ritual which mainly signifies that both men and women have an inherent desire which can only be overcome with great will power. Till it’s achieved, it is best to avoid too much contact with each other.

Hanuman mantra is often known as the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ is often chanted at the kovil. They also believe that chanting or reading Hanuman mantra every day, keeping a routine affair is considered to be a powerful force on earth which would drive all evil from both inside the residence of a person and along with that help the person to live a happy and prosperous life ahead.

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