Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

Standing strong as the pride of the town of Nallur in Jaffna, the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is a prominent place of worship for Hindus in Sri Lanka.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the god of war.

This elaborate temple was built during the 15th century and was in close proximity to the royal palace at the time.  This place of worship was built with four entrances, paving the way to four other temples.  Each opening is demarcated with a separate gateway, making the roadways to each destination distinct and precise.

The architecture and interior of the temple unveil intricacy combined with extravagance in large statues alongside other religious structures adorned with bold colours and ornate brass-work.  The long halls at the premises are marked with pillars on either side.

One of the most famous features and attractions of the temple is its statue series of deities.  Painted in gold, these statues sit on the mammoth gold-encrusted gopuram, the pyramidal tower-like structure at the entrance of the temple.  The latest addition to the temple of Nallur is its newly constructed ‘gopuram’ that is dedicated to deity Guperan, who is the divine figure of wealth.

Nallur Kovil is also the chief centre that hosts the annual Nallur festival, during which the traditional flag of the temple is hoisted ceremoniously.  The festival spans over a period of twenty-five days and invites one to witness a range of poojas (acts of worship) that are held here.  The most popular poojas during this time are Manjam, Thirukkarthikai, Kailasavahanam, Velvimanam, Thandayuthepani, Sapparam and Ther.

A socially and culturally important house of worship that plays a vital role in relation to Northern Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus, it stands as the embodiment of Hindu order and discipline in Jaffna peninsula.  Furthermore, it sets an example for all other Hindu temples in the island nation.  In addition, its fame has spread beyond the borders of Sri Lanka, and many Hindu temples in Europe and North America have employed the sacred name of this temple in honour and recognition of its supremacy among other Hindu temples.

Visitors can observe or take part in a range of religious practices during which offerings are made to the brass-framed image of Lord Murugan and the shrines of other Hindu deities at the compound.  The temple also has several friendly priests, through whom observers can obtain information regarding the temple, rituals, Hinduism and the like.

A helpful pointer to bear in mind is that when entering the temple, shoes and headwear must be removed and placed outside the temple.

Title image by: KnowSL




Culture and Heritage

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