Palakkad is a place in East Kerala, which receives copious rains because of its occurrence on the windward side of the Western Ghats. Nemmara is a taluk of Palakkad District and is at about 30 km south of the Palakkad railway station. Nemmara includes a few villages. One of them is Kannimangalam, where three temples exist: one is a Siva temple on the north-eastern corner of the village, the second is a Devi temple at the south-eastern end, and the third is a temple for Nagasubrahmanya on the western end. The idol of Nagasubrahmanya faces the east and the rays of rising Sun illuminate the deity early in the mornings.
Subrahmanya is worshipped in Tamil Nadu more intensely than in Kerala. His six padai-veedu-s (or warrior abodes) are in Tiruttani, Swamimalai, Tiruchendur, Thiruparankundram, Palani, and Pazhamuthircholai. These six temples are said to correspond to the Shadchakras or the six tantric points in human body, viz., muladhara, swadishthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi, and ajna. The temple which corresponds to Sahasrara is the Subrahmanya temple in Kathirgamam, Sri Lanka.
Naga refers to a snake and Subrahmanya to Muruga. How did Muruga come to be worshipped in the form of a snake? Once Brahma visited Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, where Brahma was questioned by Muruga how he carried out the art of Creation. Brahma replied that he was creating as indicated in the Vedas. Brahma recites the Vedas, starting with pranava (Om). Muruga interrupts Brahma, seeking an explanation of the pranava. Unable to explain its meaning, Brahma was imprisoned. Muruga takes on creation and Brahma’s absence goes unnoticed.
The only folly that occurred was that in Brahma’s creation no two beings were identical, whereas during Muruga’s creation no variation occurred. Attempts to persuade Maha Vishnu to meditate failed and Siva interferes in securing Brahma’s release from imprisonment. On Siva’s intervention, Muruga refused to relent on the reason that a person ignorant of the meaning of pranava is unsuitable for doing a critical task such as creation. Siva demands that Muruga explain the meaning of the pranava.
In Brahmopadesam ceremony (Upanayanam), the biological father of the disciple officiates as Guru for the disciple. Here Siva – father of Muruga – should be the Guru. But by accepting Muruga as Guru, Siva displays an egoless state. Muruga explains the meaning of Om to Siva and the place where this incident took place is Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu. As mythology goes, later, Muruga repented for His action of imprisoning Brahma and decided to subdue Himself with the thought: “Since I thought I am higher than the highest, let me become lower than the lowest”. With this thinking, he transformed himself into a snake, which by crawling shows that nothing can be lower than it. This story explains why Muruga is worshipped as a snake. When Goddess Parvathi came to know of this, she approached her consort, Lord Shiva to restore Muruga to his original form. Lord Shiva advised Parvathi to observe Shashti Vrtha, which Parvathi, in all sincerity, observed for 108 Shashtis. On the 108th Shashti, Lord Muruga appeared in his snake form. Lord Vishnu and all the Devas were also there, and on receiving Vishnu’s Holy touch, Muruga regained his original form, that of a small boy (Muthukumara), much to the joy of all those present on that occasion.
The main idol and a kavadi are worshipped. The kavadi was originally in the house of a devotee in Kannimangalam village, who used to conduct abhishekam with milk. Being poor and unable to afford the cost of this practice, he decided to leave the kavadi in Palani. It so happened that a person travelling towards Kannimangalam took the kavadi. On reaching Kannimangalam, he was tired and rested in the verandah of a house, which, incidentally, belonged to the same devotee, who was carrying the kavadi to Palani. Being surprised to regain the kavadi, the Kannimangalam devotee resumed his usual practice of worship.
His house caught fire, and everyone thought that the kavadi was burnt. The kavadi was safe at the top of a tree in the backyard of his house. The devotee placed the kavadi under the banyan tree, which is now a part of Nagasubrahmanya temple. The kavadi at the temple precincts is worshipped on Thaipoosam day in January—February each year.
The main festivals of the temple are Kumara Shasti (November– December), Thai Poosam (January—February) and Pratishta day (April–May, celebrated on Hasta star, Chitra month).
Almost all the best drummers in Kerala assemble for Kumara Shasti and the popular view is that the quality of the music for that festive occasion is as good as that of Thrissur Pooram. Some of the drummers say that the vibration in the temple mantapa is such that they forget themselves and what comes out is divine music – exactly the reason why they are not able to reproduce the same music, while performing at other places. A drummer, who had earlier agreed to come to Kannimangalam recently withdrew, since he had later signed for attending a music festival overseas. The Kannimanaglam programme organizers were saddened that they were losing on a stalwart for an important occasion. It so happened that the overseas engagement got cancelled suddenly and the musician turned up as promised. Such events occur commonly in the context of Kannimangalam temple festivities. A devotee who had some health setbacks donated jaggery and in a short period he was completely cured. People of the village and devotees of the temple are usually blessed with long life and high levels of education by the grace of Nagasubrahmanya.
The following is an incident that happened in 2005. A devotee, a native of Kannimangalam, came to Chennai from Bangalore to finalise his daughter’s marriage. His daughter had white patches on her limbs, about which she was naturally, unhappy of. Another Kannimangalam native suggested to him to seek the blessings of Nagasubrahmanya; asked him to donate a silver vel and perform abhishekam to Nagasubrahmanya with milk during the annual festival. The father of the girl to be married followed the suggestion, participated in the annual festival of Kannimangalam ( Shasti Vilakku), submitting a silver vel and completed the other votives. In two months, the white patches on the girl disappeared. That summer she was married and is now settled happily and blessed with a baby.
A lady, who is also a native of Kannimangalam, had just returned from the Middle East with her children to stay with her parents in Chennai. On reaching their house in Chennai, the lady removed the ornaments from her children, so that they play freely without the fear of losing the ornaments. While doing so, two gold bangles were misplaced. The family panicked, since losing gold ornaments is inauspicious. Intense search did not provide any result. A family friend suggested them to light a ghee lamp in front of Nagasubrahmanya. The stressed family did that in sincerity. Within 48 hours, they spotted the missing bangles. Lord Nagasubrahmanya’s words, “Why fear when I am here?” came true. This incident occurred in July 2012, and the family which experienced this miracle is related to me.
Recently a devotee had kept aside a sum of money to be donated to Nagasubrahmanya temple. She forgot about this, only to be reminded by a snake which appeared in their house. Promptly the money was secured to the temple.
Four peacocks settled near Kannimangalam temple on 30 December 2011. Peacocks have never been found in Kannimangalam so far and of course, this was unusual. As the chief priest was about to commence usual puja, a snake emerged from the sanctum sanctorum on January 5, 2012. What appears significant in these two events is that 30 December 2011 was Sukla Shasti and 5 January 2012 was Krittika, both days auspicious for Subrahmanya. Since the occurrence of these events, Sukla Shasti is being celebrated every month.
Subrahmanya – Devasenapati — is a soldier. Recall Krishna’s statement in Gita: “I am Skanda, among generals”(Chap X; 24). Therefore Mars is the governing planet for Subrahmanya as Mars denotes bravery, weapons, victory in war, and combat skills. Snakes are denoted by Rahu and to some extent by Ketu too. People who wish to propritate Mars or the nodes achieve fulfillment by worshipping Nagasubrahmanya.
According to Nadi–Astrology, a person born near a temple of Muruga could have either Mesha or Vrischika as lagna, being Martian signs. Factually speaking, a number of people born in the village have these rising signs, which indicates the influence of Muruga, as a deity who bears affinity to Mars. Since Nagasubrahmanya is present here as a principal deity, all troubles attributable to nine planets would abate by His grace. Those who have Naga dosha, Manglik or Kala Sarpa dosha would also benefit immensely by praying to Nagasubrahmanya.