Devi Kanya Kumari, known as Kumari Amman (the virgin goddess) is one of the forms of Devi. She is popularly known as “Bhagavathy Amman”. Bhagavathy Amman Temple is located in Kanya Kumari (formerly Cape Comorin) on the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. She is also known by several other names, including Kanya Devi, andDevi Kumari.
The worship of Devi Kanya Kumari dates back to the Vedic times. She has been mentioned in the Narayana Upanishad (belonging to the Taittrya Arayanka) of Yajur Veda. Here there is a hymn in the form of a Gayatri addressed to the Divine Energy.
Kanya-kumarim deemahi Tan no Durgih procadayat”
The Divine Mother enshrined in the Temple at Kanya Kumari and worshiped as “Bhagavati” or “Devi Kanya Kumari” is the eternal ancient symbol of a Hindu Nun. She is holding a rosary in Her prayerful spiritual ecstatic mood shedding pure spiritual bliss. Her only intention is to attain the “Supreme” by doing the repetition of God’s name (mantra-japa) and be a model to the whole of Hindu Womenkind an embodiment of eternal Divine Bliss.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), the modern Hindu Saint of India worshiped Her in December 1892 in Kanyakumari and from Her presence only decided to embark on the Missionary Work that his Master Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) always directed him to do.
Swami Brahmananda (1863-1922) and Swami Nirmalananda (1863-1938, another two disciples of Sri Ramakrishna also worshiped Devi Kanyakumari and got Her blessings. In fact, Swami Nirmalananda brought several small girls from many parts of Kerala and made them to worship Mother Kumari in 1935-36 period. To the surprise of all, SEVEN girls out of them later became the members of the first batch of Nuns of the “SARADA ASHRAMA”, a Hindu Nunnery started later in 1948 at Ottapalam, a remote village in Kerala by Swami Vishadananda.
The author of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (60-80 A.D.) has written about the prevalency of the propitiation of the deity Kanyakumari in the extreme southern part of India; “There is another place called Comori and a harbour, hither come those men who wish to consecrate themselves for the rest of their lives, and bath and dwell in celibacy and women also do the same; for it is told that a goddess once dwelt here and bathed.”
Many aeons ago Banasura, the demon king, harassed the Devas and imprisoned them. Unable to bear his atrocities the Devas sought the help of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the Universe. He advised them to pray to Goddess Parasakthi who alone could banish him. So the Devas started a ‘yagna’ to propitiate the Goddess who appeared and promised to destroy Banasura. It was pre-ordained that only a virgin could kill Banasura, so she arrived here as a Kumari (virgin) and started a penance to attain the special powers before setting off to kill Banasura. Lord Shiva (Lord of Suchindram temple about 11 km away) saw this beautiful virgin and wanted her as his wife. He let the Devas know this and wanted them to make arrangements for the wedding. The Devas, having known that only Kumari could kill Banasura, did not want the marriage to go ahead. So they sought the help of Naradha, the celestial roving trouble-shooter, to stop this wedding.
Arrangements for the marriage were made and an auspicious time was fixed as midnight of a certain day. On the appointed day the Lord left Suchindram and travelled with his entourage to where the bride was residing. As he was approaching the abode of this virgin incarnation, Naradha played his trick. On hearing this, the Lord thought that he had missed the auspicious time and returned to his abode.
The Goddess Kanyakumari was waiting eagerly for the arrival of the groom. When the groom did not turn up at all she was disappointed and in a rage cursed all the articles, ornaments and the food that had been prepared for the wedding. They turned into sand and seashells that had scattered along the seashore. That is why you see an abundance of coloured sand and seashells of every shape and form along the sea front in this town. Banasura heard about the beauty of the virgin Goddess and came to request her hand in marriage. When the Goddess refused, the demon king tried to take her by force. As he drew his sword the Goddess killed him with her ‘Chakrayutham’.The Devas were thus restored to their kingdoms and the relieved Devas requested her to remain there protecting them forever.
Devotees come to Kanyakumari temple with the main purpose of getting marriages happily settled in the families. Their prayers are granted by the goddess.
It is also said that those going to Kashi should visit Kanyakumari for safe results. This is a place that has great significance for a dip in the waters here so that the devotee gets relieved of his/her sins.