Monday, August 02, 2010

Worshipping Kansa: Unique idol in Uttar Pradesh

Traversing across North India, it's not uncommon to find rare architectural heritage or unique aspects of the culture.

But a temple for Kansa is truly a discovery. On Hardoi Road, I spotted this huge idol in a village. After crossing the village and going ahead for a distance, I decided to go back and inquire about the statue.

Villagers said that it was the idol of Kansa who was worshipped here for several generations, much to the astonishment of my companions also.

In Hindu mythology, Kansa is an evil king, who kept his sister Devaki and brother-in-law Nand incarcerated and killed every child born to them, due to a prophecy that one of his nephews would kill him.

But Devaki's eighth child, Lord Krishna, survives and later kills Kansa, who ruled the kingdom of Mathura, not far from this region where the temple exists. No wonder that Kansa is considered a negative figure almost at par with Ravana.

It is this reason that no one may have ever heard of Kansa being worshipped in India. In fact, there are a couple of temples for Ravana because he is considered a wise Brahmin and a devotee of Shiva apart from the fact that he was perhaps part of the entire divine plan in which Lord Rama as seventh avatar of Vishnu emerges and brings justice to the world.

Over the centuries, Kansa has been a demon in stories in countless households in India. In fact, a cruel maternal uncle is often referred as 'Kans mama'. There are certain positive traits in the character of Ravana but not one in Kans.

Everyone I asked about the idol including the family that has been taking care of it, said that it was indeed Kansa, but they failed to give any satisfactory reply as to how the structure was built and the locals made it a deity.

The caretaker who is a local BJP leader said that for centuries it is being worshipped and an annual fare is also organised. Perhaps, here lies the uniqueness of  Indian culture, that not just others but we also get surprised at such cultural diversities.