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Temple

Nallur Murukan Kovil

  Province Northern
  District Jaffna
  Nearest Town Jaffna
  Period 948 AD
  Ruler King Udaya IV

Introduction

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil or Nallur Murugan Kovil is one of the most significant Hindu temples in the Jaffna District of Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It stands in the town of Nallur. The presiding deity is Lord Muruga in the form of the holy Vel. The idol of the Nallur Devi or goddess was gifted to the temple in the 10 century CE by the Chola queen Sembiyan Mahadevi, in the style of Sembian bronzes.

History

Origins

The Nallur Kandaswamy Temple foundation year was 948 AD. According to the Yalpana Vaipava Malai, the temple was developed at the site in the 13th century by Puvenaya Vaku, a minister to the Jaffna King Kalinga Magha. Sapumal Kumaraya (also known as Chempaha Perumal in Tamil), who ruled the Jaffna kingdom on behalf of the Kotte kingdom is credited with either building or renovating the third Nallur Kandaswamy temple. Nallur served as the capital of the Jaffna kings, with the royal palace situated very close to the temple. Nallur was built with four entrances with gates. There were two main roadways and four temples at the four gateways. The rebuilt temples that exist now do not match their original locations which instead are occupied by churches erected by the Portuguese. The center of the city was Muthirai Santhai (market place) and was surrounded by a square fortification around it. There were courtly buildings for the Kings, Brahmin priests, soldiers and other service providers. The old Nallur Kandaswamy temple functioned as a defensive fort with high walls. In general, the city was laid out like the traditional temple town according to Hindu traditions Cankilian Thoppu, the facade of the palace of King Cankili II can still be found in Nallur. The third temple was destroyed by the Portuguese Catholic colonial Phillippe de Oliveira in 1624 CE.

Current temple

The fourth and the present Temple was constructed in 1749 A.D. during the benign Dutch colonial era by one Krishna Suba Iyer and Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar in the 'Kurukkal Valavu', which is the original temple premises.

Social Significance

The temple is a socially important institution for the Sri Lankan Tamils Hindu identity of north Sri Lanka. In the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, many temples have been built in Europe and North America using the same name as a cultural memory. There was a shrine dedicated to an Islamic sufi saint located within the temple complex from 1734 to 1749 when the temple was built. The dargah was relocated in 1749 when the temple structure was built.

Festivals

The temple hosts the annual Temple car festival.

Thaipusam is an annual religious event celebrated by Hindus to commemorate the victory of Lord Murugan over the demon, Tarakasuran. Devotees and penitents can seen bearing kavadis, and piercing their bodies with hooks and spears without seeming to cause any pain or harm as an act of faith and atonement.