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Patiram Trace Shiv Mandir

PATIRAM TRACE, PENAL WHERE HINDUS WORSHIP THE LINGAM ON THE NIGHT OF SHIVRATHRIPatiram Trace Shiv Mandir

Every year thousands of Hindus and non Hindus go to Patiram Trace Shiv Mandir where the worship of the Lingam takes place on the  night of Shivrathri. The Temple which is maintained by the Nancoo family of Katwaroo Trace is perhaps the major center for Shivrathri celebrations in Trinidad. Several persons will testify that they have had miraculous experiences as a result of worshipping at this Mandir. The following article was written by Dr Kymar Mahabir noted anthropologist and researcher on matters East Indian in particular.

 

The temple with a wishing stone: The Shiva Mandir in Penal

By Dr. Kumar Mahabir

The temple is located at the end of a narrow road in Patiram Trace, Penal, about twenty minutes drive south of San Fernando. It is in an area of wild tropical vegetation close to a secluded small village enclosed by lush green grass and tall shady trees. The gentle wind is cool and the fresh air is pure. Needless to say, there is an abundance of animal life in the area. This ecological paradise presents an idealized setting for self-reflection, study, meditation and devotion. In this unspoiled natural environment, a feeling of relaxation and peace seem to envelope and enter the visitor’s soul. If there is heaven on earth, it is at this Shiva Mandir with its sacred serenity and miraculous wishing stone [lingam].

The temple has a fascinating history. The site of the temple was not chosen because of its seclusion in a natural environment, but because of its spiritual significance. Legend has it that one day a labourer named Manickchand accidentally struck a stone with his cutlass. Instantly, milk oozed from the stone. Manickchand did not tell anyone until he had a dream that night that the stone was a Shiva Lingam [symbol of Lord Shiva]. When he broke the news the next morning, scores of people from neighbouring villages converged on the site. They went not only to see the sacred stone but also to make wishes that are said to come true. About 1900, during Indian indentureship, a small thatched hut was built over the stone by the landowner, Mr Nancoo. The building was renovated in 1940 and later extended with an adjoining hall made of aluminum roof, brick walls and concrete floors. The temple is privately-owned and cared for by Mr. Ramlochan Nancoo and Mrs. Sanicharie Nancoo (now deceased) who were always present to welcome and guide devotees and visitors. Today their children and grandchildren as well as devotees maintain this tradition.

On entering the compound, the visitor gets a view of the first part of the temple. This is the sanctum which houses the Shiva Lingam.The one-foot high lingam [stone] symbolises the energy of the Creator. It has never been removed from its original position since it was discovered in 1900, and is literally rooted in the earth from which it seems to grow by the natural accretion of mineral material. Devotees claim that the lingam is a wishing stone that bestows anything that that the pure-hearted devotee desires. Those who seek health and happiness, or success and good fortune, congregate around the lingam to seek favours and make offerings of flowers, fruits, milk and money. They are many who can testify that they have received miraculous rewards through their prayers at the Shiva Mandir.

The sanctum chamber of the temple is very small. It can accommodate only four or five persons inside at any time. It has two narrow doors but no windows. Its design and construction are reminiscent of the traditional cave formation which is invariably small and dark with no natural light. The surface of the walls has only recently been adorned with decorative stucco tiles. Entry into the sanctum represents a progression from an open to a confined space, symbolizing the complexity of modern life to simplicity of devotion. The sanctum is the holiest part of the temple, inside which devotees circumnavigate around the lingam which is the focal point.

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