A journey to the Navagarah in Tamil Nadu leaves mind, body and spirit invigorated.
IN Indian astronomy our mood, actions, health and life are governed by the nine planets based on the position they occupy in our natal chart.
Auspicious and inauspicious periods in our lives can be calculated from the position of the stars in our astrological birth chart.
In India, to appease the negative astrological period or to enhance the good period, there are nine main places of worship dedicated to the respective planets.
Fascinated by the cluster of temples devoted to the major celestial bodies, I visited the abodes for the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Ketu (dragon head) and Rahu (dragon tail) in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu last week.
Popularly known as the Navagarah (nine deity influences), these holy places were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and are located within a 60km radius in remote villages.
One of the main reasons people visit these sanctuaries at least once in their lifetime is because they believe that setting foot in the temples can ease all the sins they committed in their past life and liberate them.
Locals, foreigners and tourists throng the temples daily and many of them return experiencing relief, happiness and comfort after paying their devotion.
According to nadi astrologer Durai Subburathinam, when planets move from one location to another in an individual’s horoscope, it brings about changes and the outcome can be harmony or misery. (Nadi astrology is a form of Hindu astrology practised in Tamil Nadu.)
He said worshipping the deities representing the specific planets can reduce negative effects and improve one’s life.
Subburathinam said the planetary positions of the nine planets in a geocentric orbit determine the way a person will live and progress, and be an example to others before death.
Although our experiences of happiness and sorrow are a way of life, performing prayers at sacred sites can lessen suffering and provide strength to handle difficult situations.
I started my tour by showing grace at the Surya temple, which represents the Sun god, marked as the most powerful of them all.
The temple was an awesome sight; it was built during the Chola dynasty and stands strong today. The deity here is the giver of energy, strength, power and obedience.
Jupiter, which helps to ward off past life issues, was my next stop and I was told to prostrate myself and seek health and longevity.
At the temple for Mercury, which bestows wisdom and wealth upon people, I joined other devotees to light oil lamps.
The fire ritual is important because it is the carrier of the message to the Lord and also the remover of all ill effects.
My journey was a gruelling one because the roads to these places are narrow and the trips, long.
Chandra temple, which represents the Moon and rules emotions, gave me a sense of balance and grounding.
Performing my spiritual duties at the temple for Mars instilled in me the importance of removing ego and being humble.
My stop at Venus, the giver of happiness, made my body, mind and spirit feel lighter and more cheerful instantly.
I felt my worries disappear when I took a dip at the Saturn temple.
My final stops, at the Rahu and Ketu temples, made me feel that I had completed a marathon tour in three days and I came away with a feeling of bliss.
My pilgrimage also gave me an opportunity to receive blessing from an elephant at a temple and a holy man who has been chanting mantras for several years.
Among the items offered for prayers were coconuts, flowers, betel leaves, bananas, honey, incense sticks and camphor.
Although the planetary orientation in my birth chart is favourable at present, I still undertook the journey to connect to the divine energies at these places.
One thing I am sure of after my journey is the overwhelming feel good factor.
Vasthu Sastra talk
T. Selva will present a talk on ancient secrets, how to create a peaceful home and choose a property following Vasthu Sastra principles at 3pm on Dec 21 at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) at Jalan Sungai Long, Bandar Sungai Long, Kajang,
Admission is free. To register, call 012-3299713.
T. Selva , associate editor at The Star, is the author of the Vasthu Sastra Guide and is the first disciple of 7th generation Vasthu Sastra master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, India. Selva provides tips on Vasthu Sastra on RTM’s TRAXX fm at 11.15am on the last Friday of every month. You can follow him on Twitter at @tselvas and write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column appears on the last Sunday of the month.