Temple 1 (Sri Mariamman temple). The gate is 'decorated' with two banana trees forming an arch. United by a mango-leaf garland, the arrangement indicates a temporary (or cyclic) cult code of the temple entrance. Note that this code is achieved by referring to the primary fibroconstructive level of gate marking (see: 'access place scheme')
Same temple 1 (Sri Mariamman temple) in the inner temple compound.
The permanent copper pillar positioned axially in front of the related deity (Sri Dropadai Amman) is 'decorated'. This act of decorating the pillar with terpey grass initially opens the festival period. The picture at the right shows the same pillar from the same direction (from entrance) more closely. Note that the 'gate-code' (banana-tree and mango garland) is applied here too in the inner precinct of the temple. As with the outside gate, it indicates on the primary 'fibroconstructive'level, that the sacred place of the celebrated deity is in its festive period.
Same temple 1 (Sri Mariamman temple). The picture on the left shows the middle part of the same pillar from the back, that is from the sanctuary towards the entrance of the temple compound. The picture at the right shows the sacred flag at the top of pillar.
Plan of Sri Mariamman temple with sanctuaries and the corresponding
names of deities.
1 Sri Gothandaramar
2 Sri Ganesar
3 Sri Mariamman
4 Sri Visvana Visalakshi
5 Sri Subramanizu-valli-thervanai
6 Sri Durga Paramesvari
7 Sri Dropadai Amman, 7a Mobile representation of Sri Dropadai
8 Sri Krishnar
9 Sri Pandja Pandavar
10 Sri Sabtha Kannigal
11Sri Iyenar poornam (pushkala) Porkodial
12 Altar with sacrificial stone
13 Freestanding copper pillar
15 Entrance from South Bridge Road
Drawings showing the pillar of temple 1 (Sri Mariamman temple). The first coating around the pillar comprises a grass mat which protrudes loosely in its upper part, forming a bushy ending in about the middle part of the pillar. In its lower part this grass coating is fixed by a tight cord formed of grasses and cloth. In the lowermost part the binding is tight and covers the grass surface. Note also the textile strip in the lower part. It optically emphasises the notion of being bound. The uppermost top is 'decorated' by a terpey grass bundle which is loose towards the upper end. Note that this grass bundle has no formal relation to the symbolic top of the metal pillar. It is merely fixed to it slightly above. Below the symbolic grid with the bells a flag is fixed which shows the picture of the related deity, or its vehicle. The lower part of the textile flag mixes with the grass cord wound spirally around the pillar's shaft.
1 Terpey grassbundle
2 Mango twig
3 Textile strip
4 Copperplates with bells
5 Shaft of copper pillar
6 Bushy part of terpey grass protuding in lower part
7 Spiral cord and grass covering in lower part
8 Textile tie
9 Cord (tight)
Entrance gate of temple 2 (Sri Sinivasa Perumal temple). It was not festival time when this picture was taken, therefore the gate is not 'decorated' with a fibroconstructive gate marker.
Temple 2. Both pictures show the permanent pillar in front of the corresponding temple in the open temple precinct. Until 1997 this pillar was made of wood, then it was renewed and is now of copper. Since it was not festival time when the picture was taken, the pillar is not decorated with grass. Note the symbolic top of the pillar directed towards the permanent temple and the corresponding deity, as well as the bulges and torus like decorations of the pillar's shaft.
Temple 3 (Sri Senbaga vinayagar temple) with metal pillar (silver) under roof of main hall. The pictures show the whole pillar, its top, its base and its middle part. The whole pillar looks somehow decorative.
Neither the meaning of the top nor the ornaments in the middle and
lower part can be understood. They are just decorations. However, if they are compared with the following type, they clearly imitate the bundled symbol at the top and the lower part reproduces somehow the cords and the plant textures of the factual grass covering. Particularly the metal symbol at the top clearly confirms our hypothesis that the fibroconstructive type (see below) was the prototype of the permanent metal and wooden types.
Pillar of temple 3 (Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple). It stands in front of a permanent altar in front of the sanctuaries and deities. The structure uses a rough wooden support including a wooden grid at the top. The symbol at the top is formed by six grass bundles which are tightly bundled in their square part, and left natural in their parts which protrude upwards and towards the front. Evidently this is the primary part of the whole pillar and strongly charged with symbolic meaning. It can be 'read' as follows: the world at its ontological top consists of three (that is many) vertical and three (standing for many) horizontal polar orders (polar = like Yenning). The contrasting but - in each bundle - united categories are a model for the harmony of the world. Vertical and horizontal polarity (respectively harmony), are closely interwoven. In this model they form a quadratic structure with protruding bushes on two sides. The parts protruding at the top point towards heaven, and the parts protruding towards the front are directed towards the sanctuary, towards the deities. Evidently this is the anthropologically primary aspect of the entire pole, and the pillar clearly indicates the milieu into which this harmonious concept was born: in an early state of human settlement where grasses served as demarcators for the human environment. Evidently the flag is a much later element, but its close adaptation to the primary symbol, the identification of the textile part with the binding cord, indicates that it is of the same character in regard to its basic meaning. Note also the importance of binding in this type of religious symbolism. We thus gain an interesting insight into the earliest origins of the term religion.
Once this very fascinating type of pillar at the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple (4) was discovered, it was visited again in later years to confirm that the tradition was not arbitrarily changed. And, in fact, except for minor changes in the arrangement due to architectural renewal of the temple compound, the pillar remained the same throughout the years in regard to position, construction and accessories.
Plan of the temple 4 Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple.
1 Entrance gate with two banana trees fixed together in the centre
2 Open hall (slightly above ground)
3 Pedestal in heart form (temporary)
4 Grass pillar on quadratic pedestal (temporary)
5 Altar (permanent)
6,7,8 Sanctuaries with deities in front of the entrances
10 Open hearth
11 Room for washing
12 Small temple
13 Stone for offerings
14 Open hall
15 Open hall
(2) Temporary cult pillar of Sri Vadapathira-Kaliamman temple 3
1 Terpey grassbundle
2 White cloth twisted to become a string (flag cloth continued)
3 Red textile band
5 Terpey grassrope fixed in a spiral around pillar
6 Quadrangular base made of wood
7 Mobile base
(3) Detail sketch of pillar's top with (3a) internal wooden structure and (4) view of pillar on side of flag, (4a) stylised lion
1 Flower garland
2 Red clothband
3 Flag with emblem of deity
(5) Detail of the middle part of the pillar, (5a) section of middle part, (5b) sketch of the garland of flowers
(5) 1 Terpey grass bundle
2 white cloth (lower part of flag continued)
3 flower garland
4 Red cloth
5 strings of the lower part
(5a) 1 Flowergarland
2 Red clothband
3 Wooden support
4 Grass cover
(5b) 1 Flowerbuds, fixed with a liana string
2 Liana string
Parallelism in Japan: Sacred pillar of Yoshida shrine in Kyoto, Japan. A perennially reused wooden support is covered with suzuki grass in the lower and middle part. Three bundles of blooming suzuki grass decorate the top of the pillar. With several sacred strings (shimenawa) the pillar is bound to the more evolved historical building of the shrine. In Japan it can be clearly shown that this fibroconstructive type of markers belongs to a pre-buddhistic type of toposemantic Shinto demarcation. A striking similarity to the Hindu poles, particularly of temple 2 (Sri Vadapathina Kaliamman temple). The parallelism indicates that two very different cultures developped very similar structural phenomena evidently in their agrarian cultural substrate (see Egenter 'Semantic and Symbolic Architecture'  and our Maharasthra/Konkan survey in this website).