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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Guruvayur?

Rupali Khanna DEC 10 2012
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Certain places boast of a fascinating history. And you certainly would like to hear out a tale spanning thousands of years, a historical account that has been instrumental in shaping the cultural contours of that place. Isn’t that true? Well, here is the tale of Guruvayur, one of the most important pilgrim towns of India, situated in the state of Kerala.

The town is famed for
Guruvayoor Temple, one of the largest temples of Kerala. The presiding deity in the temple is Lord Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Hindu mythology has it that Lord Krishna in his famed palace in Dwarka used to worship an idol of Lord Vishnu. He foresaw the doom of Dwarka after his death, and therefore instructed Deva Guru Brihaspati (Heavenly Saint) and Vayu Deva (Wind God) to carry this idol to a place where devotees can worship it for the times to come.
Hence, when Dwarka was sinking, Guru and Vayu took away the idol and brought it here. However, a
Shiva temple existed already here. On Guru’s evocation, Lord Shiva agreed to leave the place so that it could be the exclusive sacred abode of Lord Vishnu.

When the nearby city of Kozhikode was under the rule of the Zamorins, this temple was given the stature of a royal temple. During the British times, the temple went into the hands of a private trust headed by a titular priest from the Zamorin family heritage. The priest is said to have encouraged several rigid and severe caste and class discriminations.
In the 1930s, the
Gandhian calls for social equality led many congressmen to protest against caste rigidities across Kerala. The temple was stormed by social revolutionaries in 1931, protesting against the discriminatory practices and prejudices followed in the temple premises, resulting in its closure. Soon, the temple was nationalised by the Madras Presidency, thereby ending a decades-old hold of caste-based politics over this sacred monument. This movement hailed a social renaissance, so to say, across the whole of Kerala.

Today, the temple is under the trusteeship of Guruvayur Devasom, a semi-constitutional temple trustee body, with the Government of Kerala handling the overall management. The temple, ironically, still follows a strict dress code and non-Hindus are prohibited in the premises, in spite of the government managing it.

Interestingly, the temple attracts more than 5 million devotees every year. The populace of the town is predominantly Hindu and most people here are religiously inclined and are simple-minded, god-fearing people. Understandably, Vaishnavism is dominant faith here.
Tourism is an important economic activity. The literate population in this town stands at an impressive 85%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. Thus, the place promises plenty of scope for progressive ideas.

Now isn’t that exciting enough to get you packing quickly and have your tickets to Guruvayur booked? We bet it is.

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