“There’s the 9 o’clock bus”, Dinesh my coordinator says. We are still waiting for Miri, another volunteer and we realise we will have to take the next bus. The 3 of us are going to Kollur for a cultural visit today.
“There’s Miri!” I exclaim as Miri descends from the 9 o’clock bus and walks towards us. We burst into laughter. She is right on time, and didn’t know what bus Dinesh had planned for us to take. Oh, well, now at least we have time to listen to Dinesh telling us more about the temple place we are about to visit.
We arrive in Kollur and first go to meditation temple Dharmapeetha. The location is tranquil, beautifully situated in magnificent scenery with mountains and lush vegetation surrounding us. We step inside to listen to the peaceful silence and sit for a moment of meditation. I am appreciating the moment to the fullest, feeling the calm of the meditation temple.
After this, a quick pause for breakfast before we head to the main temple, Mookambika. It is a beautiful temple with a lot of different elements and people visiting from afar. The temple has a certain significance for Kerala people. We see children drawing symbols in sand to have blessing in their future education, for example. Initially, the mantra is written on sand or in a tray of rice grains by the child, under the supervision of a master who conducts the ceremony (usually a priest or a guru). Then, the master writes the mantra on the child’s tongue with gold.
Writing on sand denotes practice. Writing on grains denotes the acquisition of knowledge, which leads to prosperity. Writing on the tongue with gold invokes the grace of the Goddess of Learning, by which one attains the wealth of true knowledge. The ritual also involves an invocation to Lord Ganapathyy for an auspicious start to the learning process. We get very lucky to be one of the last groups to enter the inner temple just before lunch break. When we leave, the queues are already lining up to be the first ones to enter when inner temple opens again in 1 hour.
We head to the dining hall and eat delicious sambar, rice and sweets. When exiting, Miriam and I are stopped by the crowds. Especially a group of 10th standard students want to take multiple photos (the teachers also join in). We are asked where we are from, our names and so on. The language barrier, unfortunately, makes it difficult to continue conversation much further this time.
We spent some time in Masti Amma Peetha (known as the Tribal Goddess) and enjoyed Nature and interact with the Priest at the temple, who explained about the temple’s history and relationship with the Kollur temple goddess. The last stop is further down the main road from Kollur. We ring bells to scare off demons and bad spirits, and also for blessing of new born children. In the afternoon, we left from the temples to go back to Kundapur, where everybody could enjoy the rest of the day with their host family.
Miriam Wuertemberger, Germany: I really enjoyed seeing so many different places in one day. It was nice to get some background information about the places before we went there. Dharmapeetha is a wonderful place and it was nice to see a place so calm (so we also could have stayed a bit longer). While visiting the temple, we were really lucky, but also it was quite a hurry when we got into the inner part. I didn’t know about the blessing with holy water, so it was quite surprising to me. We took some time to explore the temple and Dinesh explained everything well. Eating in the temple is always something special. At our last destination, we could have stayed quite longer because we just saw the main part of it.
Victoria Busck, Sweden : When coming back home, I feel alive with all experiences from this day of learning. Thankful for the experiences and most of all, my mind is at ease thanks to the meditation temple visit, to which I shall, for sure, make more visits to in the future.