Congress Hand Symbol originated from Hemambika Temple, Palakkad

A lookback at the history of how Congress got their Hand symbol

A lookback at the history of how Congress got their Hand symbol
A lookback at the history of how Congress got their Hand symbol

Does the younger generation in Congress party know how their party got the symbol of Hand? Here is the answer: The Grand Old Party got it from a small temple called Hemambika Temple in Palakkad district. This temple in the town of Palakkad is also known Emoor Bhagavathy Temple and is popularly known as Kaipathy (Hand) Temple.

This fact is known only to a few senior leaders of Congress in Kerala. The symbol Hand was selected by the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when she was out of power, in the late seventies, after visiting this temple. Here the deity is two hands, believed to be the hands of Goddess Parvathy, seeking help, while drowning in water. Parvathy jumped into the water fearing attacks from demons, and Lord Shiva came to rescue her seeing the hands, say the epic tales about the historic temple.

Those days, Indira’s Congress symbol was Cow and Calf and the party lost the symbol after 1977 elections due to a split. The rebel leaders such as former Karnataka Chief Minister Devaraj Urs also put a claim on the existing symbol.

While on a visit to Kerala, the former Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran escorted Indira to the temple and the uniqueness of the deity ignited her creative mind. The visit to this non-descript temple was not pre-arranged and it was Karunakaran who took her to this temple when Indira landed in Palakkad town to address a rally. Senior leaders of Kerala say the epic behind the deity  – help-seeking Goddess Parvathy’s hands while drowning in water – fascinated Indira, who was facing all kinds of difficulties from the then Janata Party government.
Deity of Hemambika Temple

Here is a music video about the temple:

The beauty of the unique deity fascinated Indira Gandhi and prompted her to choose a Hand as symbol of her party. In the 1980 elections, the Hand become the Congress symbol, which brought Indira back to power. After winning the election, Indira always remembered this temple and Karunakaran used to give offering to the temple on her behalf till her death.

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  1. Folklore in TN has a different story. IG wanted to meet Swami Chandrasekara Saraswathi of Kanchi during emergency and he refused to meet her. Later she came during Morarji Desai government and he had shown his blessing hand (did not speak to her) and she then picked-up Hand as the party symbol.


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