Devi Kanyakumari

Banasura was a powerful rakshasa who undertook severe penance to gain the boon of immortality. Pleased with his tapas, Lord Brahma appeared in front of him and asked him what he wanted. He asked for immortality. The Lord said that it was not possible to grant immortality, but he could chose how death should confront him. He thought for a moment and said that his death should be at the hands of Devi in the form of Kumari (virgin girl). He knew that the Mother of the Universe, Parvathi was wedded to Lord Shiva and therefore according to the boon she would not be able to kill him. Brahma granted him the boon. Thinking that he was now invincible, he started torturing and killing all the sages and rishis.

All the devatas gathered together and invoked Parashakti in Her Kanya form. Devi appeared as a young girl – Kanyakumari, also known as Sri Baala. They handed over to Her all their weapons. Kanyakumari descended down to the southern most tip of the subcontinent and sat down in penance to propitiate Lord Shiva. After years of rigorous tapas, Lord Shiva was pleased and decided to marry Her as per Her wishes. The auspicious time for the marriage chosen was brahma-muhurtha. She was ready in all her bridal attire. Lord Shiva started from Suchindrum, his divine abode.

All the devatas now got worried. If Shiva marries Kanyakumari, then it would be impossible for Her to destroy the Rakshasa as per the boon. They approached Sage Narada and asked him to somehow stop the marriage. Narada immediately became a cock, and when the marriage party of Lord Shiva was almost approaching the venue, he crowed. A cock crows always announcing the break of dawn. Assuming that He was late and the muhurtha had lapsed, Shiva returned back. Kanyakumari waited in vain. She became very angry at what had happened. All the food items turned into sand. The tiny pebbles resembling rice and the different shades of sand found on the shore is attributed to this. Kanyakumari again sat down in penance. 

Meanwhile Banasura came to know of a young girl in contemplation. He came and saw Kanyakumari. He became infatuated with Her beauty and asked for Her hand in marriage. Kanyakumari denied, but he insisted. In his anger he attacked her and a fierce battle ensued between the two. Finally She killed Banasura with the divine chakrayudha. The devatas expressed their happiness and sang in praise of Her. She decided to make that place Her permanent abode. 

Even today, Kanyakumari stands in penance with a japa-mala in Her right hand. The unique feature about Her is the nose-ornament that She wears. Its glow and brilliance is incomprehensible. Mother Kanyakumari stands facing East. The light from her nose-ornament is so powerful and focussed that sailors used to mistake it for light-signals from the shores and approach the mainland. Their ships used to get wrecked because of the rocks in that region. Hence the eastern entrance is closed and pilgrims enter from the northern entrance even today. The eastern dwara is opened only on special occasions.

The rock on which Kanyakumari performed penance before killing Banasura is the same rock on which Swami Vivekananda sat for three days (25-27 December 1892) and meditated before he came up with the plan and resolution for National Revival.

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