The number of tiny ants that are crushed under our feet every day is countless. They never seem to be bothered whether we use chemicals like DDT or insect repellents like Laxman Rekha. Moreover, these tiny insects are everywhere, even at places where there is not a trace of sugary substance. Often, their presence not only annoys us but also makes life difficult.
We wonder why the ants don't leave us alone. There are beliefs which suggest that ants trouble us owing to some curse inflicted by enemies.
All such doubts could be cleared if a trip is arranged to a village where ants are worshipped. More surprisingly, the place hosts a shrine dedicated to the tiny creatures. Though lacking a sanctum sanctorum or idol, the shrine comprising a platform with a lamp attracts devotees from far and wide seeking deliverance from ant trouble.
Even more interestingly, the shrine for ants isn't located in some remote corner of states where strange beliefs exist like Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, but in God’s Own Country. The precise location of the shrine, known as ‘Urumbachan Kottam’, is Kuttikkakom on the Thottada – Kizhunnapara Road in Kannur district.
Ants are being worshipped at Urumbachan Kottam based on an ancient legend. Long ago, the residents of the village decided to build a Ganapathy Temple to remove the obstacles they faced and obtain prosperity. Learned men and astrologers were invited to find an ideal spot for the purpose. A location was soon identified and a marker fixed.
However, a miracle occurred the next day. An anthill had formed at the spot where the marker was fixed, while the marker lay at another place.
Astrologers were consulted again. As per their advice, the Ganapathy Temple was constructed at the spot where the marker lay and the shrine to the ants at the location of the anthill.
Now Urumbachan Kottam has a prime place in the Udayamangalam Ganapathy Temple. After the first ritual of every month at the Ganapathy Temple, the offerings (prasadam) are served to the ants. Moreover, the rituals start at Ganapathy Temple only after completing the ceremonies at Urumbachan Kottam. There is also a belief that the ant shrine has the presence of Subrahmanya, based on which a lamp is kept lit there every day.
Devotees reach Urumbachan Kottam from many lands seeking a way out of the ant menace. As per belief, ants will no longer trouble devotees if they offer a coconut before the imaginary deity. It is the temple priest who would break the coconut brought by the devotees and allow the water inside it to flow along the platform. This would please ants, says the legend.
The shrine sees a big rush during the ‘Mandalam’ season and other occasions when special rituals are conducted.
Though it could be termed as superstition, the shrine has been found to offer succour to people harassed by ants, attest believers. Urumbachan Kottam also highlights a deep philosophy. In olden days, people held nature in such reverence that they built a place of worship for ants, a tiny insect. Moreover, by paying obeisance to a seemingly inconsequential creature, the pride and ego of man vanish.