Manavari Kovil - one of only two Ramalingams in the world
Manavari Kovil is a Hindu temple 9 kms north of Chilaw. It’s a typical Tamil temple but of significance for Hindu pilgrims from India who travel along the Ramayana trail to visit places connected to Lord Rama. Manavari was the first place where Rama installed a Lingam. This was a remedy to Lord Shiva after commiting the worst possible crime in Hinduism, Brahmincide, by killing King Ravana, who had abducted Rama’s consort Shiva. Ravana was a Brahmin. The Shiva-Lingam in Manavari is called Ramalingam, as it was erected by Lord Rama. There are only two Lingams in the world named after Lord Rama, the other one being that of Rameshwaram in India, the most sacred place in Tamil Nadu. A Ramalingam is an extraordinary object of worship in Hinduism, as Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu and a Lingam is a representation of Shiva, Vishnu and Shiva being the highest gods of different groups of Hindus. Usually, in Vishnuism, Vishnu does not venerate Shiva. He does so as Rama, as told in the Vishnuite Ramayana epic, because the sacrilege of Brahmincide was indespensible to restore the order of the world by freeing Sita and returning to rule in Ayodhya. The erection of the Lingam as symbol of Rama’s devotion to Shiva hence is an extraordinary event in Hindu mythology.