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Nurani is one of the eighteen villages in Palakkad town, (Palakkad District, Kerala State, India) one among 96 of them (called Agraharams) in the entire district. This village is a beautiful one with its own tradition and culture. Palakkad is basically an agricultural district. During the times of the rules by various Kings, they felt the need to bring in more knowledge to their kingdoms. So they invited people from Tamil Nadu which had strong kingdoms, and there was also need for priests, cooks, musicians, administrators, philosophers etc. so as to develop a society of all round cultural values. Palakkad had its own folklore’s and traditions, even otherwise. This intermixing of people of different cultures added to its own beauty and divergence.
Palakkad Fort is a magnificent monument in Palakkad town. It is named after Tipu Sultan. But it was not built by him. There is no recorded history as to who built this fort. It must have been built centuries ago by the rulers of Palakkad, and perhaps modified and restructured by different rulers. At the time of Hyder Ali, the ruler of Palakkad sought refuge in him as protection from East India company. So the fort went to the custody of Hyder Ali, and thereafter Tipu Sultan.
It is said that people from Thiruvannamalai and Tirunelveli etc. from Tamil Nadu came and settled down in Nurani village some centuries ago and made their Grama Samooham. So they brought in Tamil culture along with them and their spoken language is Tamil. During the course of years, they became part and parcel of Palakkad population and their identity got merged in the new culture. Their Tamil accent and cultural milieu, in the present generation of people, can be seen distinctly different as compared to the people of Tamil Nadu.
The legend has it that when some agricultural activities were going on in a field, named Kaikuthu Paramba, adjacent to Nurani village, people found three idols, in cylindrical shape, looking like Shivalingh. They brought them to the wise men of the village. When some research were made on these idols, it was concluded that they are representative of Dharmasastha with His consorts, Poorna and Pushkala. It is believed that a Namboodiri Brahmin, who was a great devotee of Aryankavu Sastha, was worshipping these idols years ago. Looking at the sanctity of these idols, it was decided to consecrate them in a temple in Nurani village.
In the place from where these idols were recovered in Kaikuthu Paramba, a Bhagavathy statue was installed, named Elaya Bhagavathy. The Bhagavathy is representative of all pervading force in the Universe. This is the background in which the Dharmasastha temple came about in the village. The concept of Dharmasastha temple is, even today, always connected to the Bhagavathy temple nearby.
From the time, the Dharmasastha temple came about, Thulasiamman Pooja and Sasthapreethi celebrations are going on every year in the months of December to January. The functions and poojas are spread over a period of 40 days, during the Mandalam period in each year. There are vedic recitations, both in the morning and the evening on all these days, called Vaaram, by more than twenty very learned vedic scholars, reciting together in rhythm and grandeur. This is apart from Rudhrabhishekams, laksharchanas, Bhagavathy Seva, and many other vedic rituals. On Wednesdays and Saturdays there are special songs on Dharmasastha sung in traditional way by the people of the village in front of the sanctum. These songs were created by the elderly people of the village, with special meanings, characteristics unique in style and in different ragas. They are in Tamil. It is a sight to see how even young children pick up these culture and sing songs very well.
The whole programmes culminate with Thulasiamman pooja and Sasthapreethi on a Friday and Saturday. These functions are very unique and special. There are many other programmes of art and culture, by inviting musicians and Upanayasas on these occasions for performing in front of the temple. On the concluding day, the functions are interconnected with the functions in the Elaya Bhagavathi temple. The traditions are kept up even today.
Dharmasastha is different from Lord Ayyappan, though they are part of one and the same. Dharmasastha concept existed even before Ayyappan. Dharmasastha is the potency of Hari and Hara, both positive energy, as we think. But, I feel, there is nothing as only positive energy because Shiva is also in the form of Ardhanareeswara and Hari is always with Lakshmi. At that point everything converges. Their potency, Dharmasastha, appears in any form to sustain the Sanatana Dharma. Therefore, Lord Ayyappan is an Avatar of Dharmasastha. All poojas and vedic rituals are carried out for Lord Ayyappan as if they are doing to Dharmasastha.
The population of Nurani, over a period of years, spread to all over India and abroad. But, because of these functions and traditional values, there is a binding and commonality of people originating from Nurani. They are Nuranians. Though majority of the people are settled elsewhere as compared to the present number of inhabitants of Nurani village, these people who are outside their village do keep a connect because of these traditional values. So they keep doing their support to these traditions, and whenever possible, most of them make it a point to attend them. In many places in India and abroad, similar functions are conducted by groups of these people and joined by many others, thereby they keep in contact with the culture and traditions. Apart from Nurani village, many temples in South India and other places in the country emulate some aspects of this age old unique Nurani tradition and celebrate at some time or the other.
India is a diverse country with different faiths and culture. But there is deep rooted instinct in most of the people to connect themselves with their faith and through that to the truth. This is a binding force and a live wire among communities and people. The diversity and beauty of our tradition and culture make a unifying divine force and bonding par excellent.