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World Sparrow Day: Will sparrows ever return to this temple named after them?

Times of India, New, Delhi, 19 Mar, 2015

 J Arockiaraj

MADURAI: In the 1960s, late freedom fighter Govindasamy Naidu had a dream where a sparrow appeared and told him to build a temple for Goddess Kali near the North Masi Street in Madurai (Tamil Nadu).


In fact, an idol of the goddess and three tridents (her weapons) had been there for more than a century. However, there was no temple for the deity.


The area, which is a concrete jungle now, was home to house sparrows then. Naidu believed that the goddess had sent one of the sparrows to tell him to build a temple for her.


And it had not taken much time before the Sittukuruvi Kaliamman Temple was built in the area ('Sittukuruvi' in Tamil means sparrow)


And sparrows continued to live in the vicinity of the temple.


Renowned author of folklore A Sivasubramanian has said many local deities found an association with the fauna of the region.


"Sparrows found a mention in the Sangam literature, dating back to 300 BC, where they are mentioned as 'Manai Urai Kuruvi' (bird that lives in the house)," he said.


"Sittukuruvi Kali is one such example where even smaller birds living in the vicinity found an association with the deity. The surrounding areas were known for trading grain, and sparrows found it an ideal place to live," he added.


People believe that Sittukuruvi Kali is a powerful goddess. "She is a very powerful goddess and is known to cure lumps or pimples. If people pray to her for cure, she will cure them. And they will offer her salt in accordance with the custom," said 80-year-old T Kothaiamma.


For Kothaiamma, Sittukuruvi Kali has been her solace and strength after she lost her husband when she he was 25.


The temple remains intact, so also is people's faith in the temple. But the sparrows are missing.


"Sparrows used to fly around the goddess. They flocked the area during festivals. But I can't see them now. They all have gone," bewailed Kothaiamma.


The Sittukuruvi Kaliamman Temple in Madurai (TOI photo by Iniyan Lenin)


Pujas are performed at the temple daily, and people say the goddess hear their prayers always.


But will the sparrows ever return to the temple named after them?


March 20 is observed as the Word Sparrow Day.