- 01 Aug 2017
Chottanikkara is a place that draws out negative energy from the roots
There’s always a line that one draws, when it comes to science and beliefs. To talk facts, there’s no real evidence of God, but according to statistics, a total of 84 percent of the world’s population reportedly associate themselves with some religion. If you believe in God, is it so hard to believe that ghosts exist? For every positive, there is a negative, is there not?
Movies have commercialised the whole concept of ghosts, showing them in a typical white saree, sucking on the blood of innocent victims, but if you really dig deep into the history of ghosts and paranormal activities, you’d see that it’s got nothing to do with how it’s shown on screen, in most cases. With this concept in mind, and the fact that, for the first time, a book about ‘The Demon Hunter Of Chottanikkara’ by S V Sujatha, made me wonder if there’s actually a demon in Chottanikkara, a temple that I’ve frequented most Fridays.
Book in tow and an anticipation to know more, I head over to the Devaswom Board after a darshanam of the temple. I meet the Assistant Commissioner of the board who asks me to wait while he calls upon a colleague for me to talk to. Thirumeni arrives to talk to me, along with a co-worker, and the four of us engross ourselves in conversation. Do ghosts exist, I ask the Thirumeni. Is it real? Have there been instances? I bombard him with all the questions that I had about this topic.
He says there have been several incidents in the temple and the premises. The main issue lies in the fact that most of us confuse mental disorders as badhas. To simplify the term, here’s a story. Death can be divided into two, one being natural and one being unnatural death. Suicide and murder, to name a few, fall under unnatural death. It is said that those who don’t have a smooth passage during their death will have their spirits roaming around the world, looking for moksha. Most people who have an unnatural death are said to have some unfinished business in the world, and they look for a foothold here, and it could either be someone weak or someone they’re close to.
Speaking of facts, Chottanikara temple is the only one to hold a ‘Guruthy Pooja’ on a daily basis. This pooja is done in front of the Keezhkavu Kali as she’s believed to cure mental illnesses. The Thirumeni was kind enough to share a few examples of people who have come there and gone back completely cured. Here’s what he had to say!
The IAS Officer
Mental illness doesn’t differentiate rich or poor. One day, when I was walking around, I saw a big, burly, well built man who summoned me over. I didn’t know what was wrong and went over, only to notice that he had his hands were tied. All worked up, the man spoke to me in English, swearing at the people around him, while asking me to untie him. The same day, after the pooja, I saw him and he was a completely different person. It was only later that I learnt he was an IAS officer!
The gloomy child
Around 8 pm, not that long ago, a bunch of people in a taxi approached me asking me if they’re at Chottanikkara Temple. I told them they’re at the right place and that at the moment, Guruthy’s happening at the Keezhkaavu which they could attend. With the group, there was a little girl, probably around 12, who looked so gloomy that I wondered what could have happened to her. Once the group heads into the temple, the driver tells me that the little girl had apparently seen something and it scared her so much that for the past one week she hasn’t spoken to anyone or had a bite to eat. I wait around to see the girl and she comes back looking nothing like the one I saw go inside. She’d changed completely as she walked out with a broad smile on her face. Her father looked very relieved when he asked me for a decent hotel nearby because she was hungry!
The Hesitant Couple
I think they’re newlyweds, by the way they were around each other. They’d come to give Chottanikkara Devi a visit, when all of a sudden the lady hesitates to get in. She completely refuses to get in, no matter how much her husband kept pursuing her to. I approached them to ask if everything’s alright, when the woman said she will, under no circumstance, enter the temple. I ask the husband if she had a previous medical history, but he seemed unaware of anything as such. I think she was possessed by a badha, or else why would she hesitate to face the Goddess?
The Angry Kid
Like the story of the newlyweds, there was a kid, all of 10 years of age who apparently wanted to come to Chottanikkara to pray, but wouldn’t enter the premises upon arrival. No matter what his parents said to him, he just would not set foot into the temple. He kept pleading to his parents that he’d go to any temple but this. After several feeble attempts to convince his parents, he stomped hard on the ground and walked away. It amazed me, seeing a little boy behave like that, and walk away without so much as wincing, because when I tried to imitate what he’d done, my feet hurt! Tell me, how can I not believe in spiritual beings?
The Bilingual Woman
For someone who doesn’t know the basics of Tamil, talking fluently like a Tamilian is something that can’t happen overnight. Around 8 months ago, there was a lady who came for a visit. As she was praying in front of Lord Shiva’s deity, she fainted and then the Malayali lady who had never spoken a word of Tamil in her life was speaking in fluent Tamil. It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? After having her attend the pooja, she went back to normal with no recollection of what she’d done a few hours ago.
These are just a few such incidents that we see in abundance. There’s not a day that goes by with someone or the other who comes here to seek help from the goddess. How can we not believe in a negative force? You know what they say, don’t you? Babies and dogs have the ability to see and hear things that someone like us cannot. Dogs are capable of hearing noises below a certain frequency, something that we, as humans, can’t. This, I'm sure, is a lot to take in, but we can’t completely ignore the fact that there is a Yin for every Yang.
There are certain facts that are to be believed, according to the people I spoke to there:
- Dogs do howl when they see, hear or feel a supernatural presence.
- Babies who can’t speak are said to have the ability to see supernatural forces.
- Like in movies, the long nails you see on the trees in the Keezhkaavu are there, by belief that the spirit or badha that’s been haunting your body has been drawn out of your body and moved to the tree, so that it does not haunt anyone else.
- Not all mental illness can be treated by medicines, a bit of faith in God is a necessity.
- Fear of God is a sign that the body has been possessed.
- Not every spirit is in seek of vengeance, sometimes it just means that they have unfinished business to take care of before they move over to the other side.
- Just like the existence of bad spirits, there’s also the presence of good spirits.
- 12:30 to 3:30 AM is considered a bad time to stroll around alone, because that’s when there seems to be reports of supernatural forces. It’s called the witching hour for a reason.
- Ghosts don’t appear in front of us draped in a white saree, neither does God appear in all their grandeur.
- There is a certain positivity within the premises of the temple, which is considered holy, which is why these spirits fear to enter, because good always trumps bad.
While winding up my conversation, I asked them if they have any kind of records as to how many people have come there, seeking treatment. They said they have no official records, since it is quite impossible to do so as they see people come and go on a daily basis and since whatever they do is in their subconscious mind, making an entry would seem like holding onto something that they want to forget. The Thirumeni then told me that I’d be surprised to see how people react here, especially during a Guruthy, when sometimes, the most unexpected people show signs of being possessed.
Text: Devika V Menon Photos: Devika V Menon