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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Prayers for birth at Yama temple - Faithwise Review of the Week

What is making news?

Coimbatore in India is in headlines for a spiritual matter. Source: Deccan Chronicle on the web, August 07, 2006

Coimbatore, Aug. 6: A shrine for the Lord of Death, Yamadharmaraja, is very rare. A 306-year-old temple with Lord Yama as the presiding deity, which might well be the only one in the country, draws big crowds at Vellalur, about 20 km from here.

People seem in awe of the idea of a temple to a god who is more feared than worshipped. R.M. Pazhanisami, the seventh-generation priest of the temple, explains that Lord Yama is visualised not just as the god of death, but also as the god of dharma, of right conduct in life.

Devotees throng the temple with absolutely no sense of fear to seek common favours, such as a child for a childless couples or marriage for a grown-up daughter. “No, they do not ask Yama to call them later than it is due,” says the priest with a smile.

“My duty as a priest is to convey Yama’s advice to seekers who come with offerings of lemon, betel leaves, coconuts, fruits, sugar and ghee (clarified butter). Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for enquiries on business ventures. Other days are for guidance on family matters. And on Sundays, just like any of us, Lord Yama takes a holiday from his sessions with mortals,” he quips.

The priest, who performs puja thrice a day at the temple to the god of death, reveals that the temple, consecrated in 1971, is maintained by the Thevar community. “My great-grandfather had a dream as though Yama appeared in a place that seemed absolutely real and familiar. His search for the place began and ended in the fields at Vellalur, which belonged to a brahmin landowner. My ancestor found the brahmin and expressed his desire to construct a temple for Yama there. The latter agreed at once. The descendants of the man who turned this vision into reality have been in charge of the temple since then, with rights of worship by turn,” he says.

Says Neelamegalai, a resident of Vellalur and a devotee frequenting the temple for years: “The circle is sacred to Lord Yama and hence the temple flaunts spherical architecture. Nestled amidst the sugarcane saplings, the walk through the narrow footpath to get to the temple is a pleasant experience in itself.”

Before one reaches the Chittira Puttira Yamadharmaraja temple, a small shrine to Andichi Amman stands as a sentinel. She is the sister of Chitragupta (or Chittira Puttira as Tamils have it), Lord Yama’s celestial scribe. She is usually placated first.” At the entrance to the main temple is Lord Ganesha.

Then the main chamber opens the door to the sanctum into which only men are permitted. For women, the hall is the final halt for darshan. The fearsome figure astride a buffalo with menacing horns is Lord Yamadharma. The idol faces the south, holding in one hand the ankus to guide his black mount while the other hand grips the whip that draws man at the destined moment. Chitragupta sits to his right with his “register of good and bad deeds of humans while on earth”.

The temple has some strange myths. It is said that Lord Yama has strong likes and dislikes. He will not tolerate black thread or cloth. Coconuts must be offered whole, and no yellow flower is allowed in worship. His colourful garland is of oleander, tuberose and basil. Standing with the hands clasped at the back is considered “disrespectful” to Lord Yama and invites misfortune.

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    >>>>see also at Amazon: Decade of Greed - 1980s;

    >>>>Bribery: who pays, who refuses, what are the payoffs? / Jennifer Hunt, Sonia Laszlo.
    "We provide a theoretical framework for understanding when an official angles for a bribe, when a client pays, and the payoffs to the client’s decision. We test this framework using a new data set on bribery of Peruvian public officials by households. The theory predicts that bribery is more attractive to both parties when the client is richer, and we find empirically that both bribery incidence and value are increasing in household income. However, 65% of the relation between bribery incidence and income is explained by greater use of officials by high-income households, and by their use of more corrupt types of official. Compared to a client dealing with an honest official, a client who pays a bribe has a similar probability of concluding her business, while a client who refuses to bribe has a probability 16 percentage points lower. This indicates that service improvements in response to a bribe merely offset service reductions associated with angling for a bribe, and that clients refusing to bribe are punished. We use these and other results to argue that bribery is not a regressive tax"--National Bureau of Economic Research web site.

    >>>>Whither are we drifting? the opinion of an independent conservative journal on the situation, the Montreal "Herald" says ..
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