A temple where only men and cows are allowed

Forget about entry, women are prohibited even to partake the prasadam at the Hanuman shrine in Kadapa

The restrictions on entry of women into the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala and the controversies surrounding the tradition have been making headlines for years now. But not many know that a similar practice is in vogue in the little-known Hanuman shrine in Kadapa district .

The Sanjeevaraya Swamy temple at Thippayapalle in Pullampeta mandal is another ‘men-only’ shrine. By tradition, the men from the village perform the daily rituals and manage the temple affairs. Forget about entry into the temple premises, women are prohibited even to partake the prasadam.

What folklore says

Since decades, the residents of the cattle-rich village have been eking out their living by selling milk and butter in the nearby towns. A popular folklore has it that a strange disease had broken out in the village, affecting the livestock. A sage had installed a huge boulder etched with sacred text (Beejaksharalu) in the village and asked the village to let the sick cows rub their bodies against it. As the suggestion worked wonders, the villagers got the boulder consecrated in a temple and the villagers have been worshipping the consecrated stone as Lord Hanuman since then. The cows are made to pass through the shrine.

Sankranti rituals

The temple gets abuzz during the Sankranti festival every year as only males from the village prepare ‘pongali’ and offer it to the Lord on the weekend ahead of the Sankranti. This year too, male members from the 70 houses in the village gathered at the shrine and prepared ‘pongali’ with rice, jaggery and pulses which was offered to the deity. The ‘prasadam’ was then distributed among the male members of the village.

“The residents of Thippayapalle make it a point to visit their village on this special occasion every year irrespective of the places they have settled down,” says B. Ramanatham, a resident of the village .

Another legend has it that the village was shifted from its previous place as Goddess Kothapuri Yellamma, the village deity, got irritated with the sound of the churning of milk.

Apart from keeping the traditions alive, the village elders say, the sprawling grazing fields abutting the Seshachalam forest is also a key to the impressive cattle wealth,

In the recent decades, the temple has got a welcome arch and a compound wall. However, the consecrated stone at the heart of the shrine remains the same with no barriers, where only only men and cows are allowed.

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