No Males Allowed

Goddess, temple, curse,
Saraswati is usually sweet and pleasant, but this time her husband upset her to the point of putting a curse on him….on all married men

 

I recently learned that there are some temples in India that deny entry to non-Hindus. The Swami who told me that said that he thought it had to do with some westerners who disrespected the temples by their dress and or behavior. Later, I learned that there were also temples that deny entry to women.

I am frankly OK with barring people for behavior, but to exclude an entire gender was, I thought, a bit antiquated. I have since done research and have learned the reasons. Although I cannot say I am in agreement with excluding women based on a natural biological process, at least I know the reason.

It seems to me that since sweat, or perspiration is also released from the body that a sweaty man should also be denied entrance to a temple, but that is another subject. My initial reaction being one of annoyance, I blurted out, “what about Sarasvati, is she allowed?” The others with me chuckled, but I have since learned that Sarasvati is doing just fine. There are also temples in India where males are not allowed, or who are only allowed at certain times, and one of them, is because of Sarasvati!

At the Brahma Temple in Pushkar, priests refer to a strictly followed religious practice. House holders, meaning married men, are not allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum to worship the deity. The temple has an interesting history, being one of the few dedicated to Lord Brahma. There are two versions of how Sarasvati influenced its destiny. According to the Padma Purana, the story behind Pushkar temple is that Lord Brahma was in search
of a suitable place to perform a yajna when the lotus he was holding fell from his hand and landed on the Earth. Miraculously a lake sprang up at the place where the Lotus touched the earth and Brahma, considering it a good omen decided to perform his yagna and named the town as a flower in Hindi is ‘push’ and hand is ‘kar’, therefore the land was named Pushkar. But when his wife Sarasvati failed to join him, he married a local maiden Gayatri and completed the ceremony. Upon learning this, an enraged Sarasvati cursed Brahma, that from that day forth he would be worshiped only in the land of Pushkar and nowhere else on Earth. 1

That is one version, however I rather like this one in which Lord Brahma performed the yagna at the Pushkar lake which he had to perform with his wife Sarasvati who was en-route to join him but according to legends, she was late because she was waiting for her companion Goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Indrani. Thinking she might not show, Lord Brahma requested Lord Indra, The King of the Gods, to find another for him to wed. Indra selected Goddess Gayatri and completed the rituals. When Goddess Saraswati and company arrived, she was so upset she cursed the temple that no married man is allowed to visit the inner sanctum or trouble will arise in his marital life 2

Priest, Goddess, Saraswati
Brahma Temple in Pushkar

In this temple, only ascetics (sanyasis) can perform the puja to the deity. Hence, all offerings by pilgrims are given, from the outer hall of the temple, through a priest who is a sanyasi. The priests of the temple, in general in Pushkar, belong to the Parashar gotra (lineage). During the Kartika Purnima(Full Moon) in the months of October- November, Pushkar temple is crowded with thousands of devotees as it is the time which marks the period during which Brahma performed his Yagna in Pushkar.  This is also the time when the sleepy town of Pushkar comes alive with the joyous Pushkar festival. 3

Brahma Temple Information
The temple is open for worship between 6:30 am and 8:30 pm during winter and 6:00 am to 9:00 pm during summer, with an interval in afternoon between 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm when the temple is closed. Three aartis are held in the temple: Sandhya arati in the evening about 40 minutes after sunset, Ratri Shayan arati about 5 hours past sunset and Mangala arati in the morning, about 2 hours before sunrise.

The Bhagati Maa temple in Kanya Kumari, Kerala is dedicated to Bhagati Maa and is located at the Cape of Kanya Kumari and surrounded by three oceans The Bay of Bengal, The Indian, and The Arabian Sea. It is one of the Shakti Peeths which are holy places of cosmic power consecrated to the Goddess Shakti, the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of The Shakta Sect. These holy places are found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Briefly, a shaktipeeth is a piece of the body of Sati who killed herself because her father King Daksha Prajapati did not like her husband Lord Shiva whom he felt disrespected him. He gave a party one night and did not invite Shiva and Sati. Although Shiva shrugged it off, Sati went anyway. While there, she was neglected by her siblings and when her father started to really degrade Shiva she could bear it no longer and ended her life. Out of grief and sorrow, Shiva (God) carried Sati’s body reminiscing their moments as a couple, and roamed around the universe with it.  Uusing his Sudarshana Chakra, Vishnu cut her body into 52 parts which fell to Earth and become holy spots. These spots, called Shakti Peeths are the holy cosmic power centers where we  pray to the named Goddess. It is said that her spine fell at the spot of the Bhagati Maa temple and that is a reason that men are not allowed therein.

Many forms of Sakti

Bhagati Maa is often associated with Gowri/Parvati, the benevolent Goddess of harmony, marital felicity and longevity, with Durga, Goddess of strength and valor, and Mahakali, Goddess of destruction of evil. She is also called the Goddess of Sanyasa which is why only Sanyasa men are allowed in the temple to the gate to seek the Goddess’ blessings. {3} {4}

Temple Info
There is a special darshan counter. But on most days the normal darshan itself is quite accessible. Ladies can wear Sarees or Churidhar. Please avoid skirts and maintain the sanctity. For men Dhothi is preferred but not compulsary. Shirts, Vests to be avoided https://www.tripadvisor.com

Kamakhya Devi Temple- This temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya Devi who is known as “Bleeding Goddess” and worshipped in the form of tantric goddesses located on the Nilachal hills in Guwahati, Assam. She is also known as Tara, Kamala, Dhumavati, Bagola, Bhairavi, Matangi, Chinnamasta, Bhuvaneshwari and Tripuara Sundari. This is the temple where only women are allowed to enter the premises during the time when goddess is menstruating and is closed for 3 days making the water of the Brahmaputra river red. It is opened on 4th day and the holy water is distributed among the devotees as prasad of the Goddess.

There is no scientific proof that the blood actually turns the river red. Some people say that the priests pour vermilion into the waters. But symbolically, menstruation is the symbol of a woman’s creativity and power to give birth. So, the deity and temple of Kamakhya celebrates this ‘shakti’ or power within every woman 5

Chakkulathukavu Sree Bhagavathy temple, dedicated to Mother Godess, is situated on the border of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts at Neerettupuram. The temple, which has a history of over 3,000 years, is open to people of all faiths. The famous rivers Pamba and Manimala flow on either sides of the temple.

The annual Pongala festival, Chakkulathukavu Pongala, here, which falls in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam (November/ December), is a grand affair. On this day, thousands of women devotees who assemble on the temple premises and line up beside the roads leading to the temple and prepare ‘pongala nivedyam’, a sweet dish made of rice porridge, molasses and coconut gratings. The ‘pongala nivedyam’, prepared in earthen pots, is believed to be a favourite of the goddess. Only women are allowed to participate in this ritual.6

There are more than these four temples but these pretty much capture the essence of how there came to be temples which regulate male behavior as opposed to them always being the “regulators”. The stories also fluctuate as to the temples involved, but the important thing to remember is that the Sakti energy is a valad and valuable part of God and should be highly honored.

I plan to visit India within the next year and I will be looking to visit at least one of the Goddess temples. Although I can’t imagine myself in a daothi, I look forward to giving it a try. I feel particularly close to Paravarti and Sarasvati and refuse to let such a materialistic concept as attire keep me from visiting her in her natural environment, so to speak.

Notes and References

{1}  http://www.rajasthandirect.com/tourism/temples/pushkar-brahma-temple 

{2}  http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/JM-RELI-men-prohibited-temples-5384013- PHO.html

{3}{4} http://18shaktipeetasofdevi.blogspot.com/2011/04/18-shakti-peethas.html

{5} https://www.boldsky.com/yoga-spirituality/faith-mysticism/2013/kamakhya-temple-story-032807.html

{6} https://www.keralatourism.org/destination/chakkulathukavu-bhagavathy-temple/458

 

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One Reply to “No Males Allowed”

  1. Dakxa was doing a jagya not a Party and he invited all the Devas but refused to invite Maha dev who is greater than all the other Deva which is Shiva, this was due to where he decided to live, which was in crematorium and also because Sati decided to marry him for who he was, rather than who he pretended to be and because of her choice she and Shiva were ignored.

    Sati could not accept the insult of Shiva, she decided to throw her self in the havan ( fire pit ) . This was most sacrilegious jagya in the world not because it took the life of Sati but it resulted in darkness in world for long term due to Shiva being lost with out Sati.

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