Manjadikuru – The Coral Tree Seeds

Update for week ending 22 July 2011

Amminikutty was a devout Krishna worshipper. She would visit the village shrine each morning after her 5 am bath – dressed in her white “mundu” – cotton waistcloth commonly worn by people in Kerala. She would regularly pray for the needy and sick. One o fher relatives was seriously ill and she had taken a vow for that she would pray for him at the famed Guruvayur temple. Hailing from a poor hamlet on the foothills of the Western Ghats, she had little means of taking public transport to Guruvayur, so she decided to cover the journey on foot. Bhaskaran, the bus driver who brought in the bi-weekly load of passengers to this hilly village, once told her that though Guruvayur was not very far off, it was at least a few days of journey by foot. He could do the trip in a day, but if his bus owner heard of him giving a poor lady a free lift, he would lose his job. He however had an idea, he would carry her little luggage (a faded mundu-kattu – a cotton bundle containing more waistcloth inside) to Guruvayur and leave it at the bus-stand with Gopi (the security guard of the bus stand). With that taken care of, Amminikutty started her journey to the pilgrim centre. However on the way, as she passed the rainforest covered slopes, she realized that she did not carry any offering to her favorite lord. She looked around and saw the circassian tree (or the red coral tree) and the glistening red seeds scattered on the ground. They looked shiny and very attractive. She gathered them and when her fists were full of them she looked around for a container that she could store them in. Sighting none around, she decided to use her thorthu-mundu (dish cloth/cheese cloth like towel that men and women usually hung over their left shoulder) to wrap the seeds into. This she would offer to Krishna at Guruvayur.

She reached Guruvayur 3 days later and gathered her belongings from Gopi who grew worried as he expected the matron earlier. She was tired and Gopi offered her some plantains to eat and a glass of “kattan kaapi” – black coffee sweetened with jaggery. Refreshed, Amminikutty headed to the temple tank for her ablutions and she changed into the fresh pair of mundu – both as a waistcloth as well as an upper garment. She unwrapped the thorthu mundu to use it to dry herself with, and then loosely gathered the circassian seeds or manjadikuru into it, before heading to the temple. The day she arrived was the first day of the month and on this day it was the custom that the local ruler would visit the temple and offer an elephant to the lord.  Due to the prominence given to the ruler in the temple, the officers pushed people in arrogance to make way for the king.  The frail lady fell down and her loosely held “bag” of Manjadikuru seeds was scattered on the ground.  A tear rolled down her cheeks and fell to the ground.  As soon as this happened the elephant ran amok and there was chaos all around.  People prayed for this chaos to end.  Suddenly there was a divine voice heard, the lord himself was asking where his ardent devotee was and the offering of Manjadikuru seeds that she had brought.  The people understood their folly and helped the lady up and gathered the seeds and she was let inside to pray and see the Lord.  The elephant calmed down immediately and peace restored in the temple.

The D Boyz were hurt by the tragedy of the Red Palace (Lal Mahal – the Red Palace)and became weak and unable to do their duties on D Street well. So one of them approached a pious old lady who selflessly prayed for all. She looked for some offerings to take to her Lord, and as it was rainy on D Street, quite a few trees swayed and some branches came crashing down (in fact a huge banyan tree also fell in a nearby commercial district outside a movie hall). The old lady who took shelter under a tree barely missed the heavy branch that fell by her – and she crouched out of fear. Some of the Boyz did come to her rescue and took her for medical attention – and at the clinic, she still held onto the little pouch she had of little red seeds (resembling crimson red coral beads). With a little first aid, she was well and ready to go on her little pilgrimage to her shrine praying for the Boyz that were hurt. Her prayers were answered, as the storm blew over and the skies cleared a little; the Municipal authorities got to work mending the damaged roads and trimming the errant branches on overgrown trees. The old lady’s prayers were answered as the weak Boyz could actually get back to work on Friday and lift their fallen SENSEX to reach a 2 week high of 18722 – 121 points up from last week.

In the famous Krishna temple in Guruvayoor, Kerala there is a big heavy vessel filled with Manjadikuru/Circassian seeds placed near the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum in memory of Amminikutty. Even today, people walk up to the brass vessel and scoop up handfuls of the seeds to symbolically offer it to the lord, in respect to the old devotee. This is especially done for health.

Have a safe and happy weekend.



5 thoughts on “Manjadikuru – The Coral Tree Seeds

  1. Very nice article.. Transported me to Guruvayur and the ambience around the temple.. Somewhere I thought manjadikuru was onlyto be used by kids for good health!! Looks like I can offer next time as well! Nice weekend

    1. Radhika, thanks. I am glad that you touched the spiritual side to yourself today. Not wanting to be preachy but it is nice to hear that you felt transported back to Guruvayur. And here is to your health… Happy Manjadikuru offering!

  2. I still collect manchadikkuru along the many paths of Bombay. Home always has a way of finding me wherever I am 🙂

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