Saturday, February 24, 2018

Temples of Kerala- an over view


Temples of Kerala- an over view

By
 P.R.Ramachander

Present day Kerala, "God’s own country", is the ribbon-like green stretch of land placed between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats - a chain of high hills which begins from south of Thiruvananthapuram (also colloquially referred as Trivandrum) to the small town of Kasargode on the border with Karnataka state. Legend says that Parasurama, an incarnation of Maha Vishn, gifted all the land he conquered from Kshatriya kings, as per instruction of Lord Rama. When he found that he did not have any place to live, he came to a place called Gokarna near the Western Ghats mountains and threw his marble axe into the sea. The land reclaimed by him from the sea is the present day Kerala, although Gokarna and a large stretch of land, said to have been reclaimed by Parasurama, are now in the state of Karnataka. The transliteration of the name 'Keralam' is “Garden of coconuts”, but some people believe that the name came from Cherala (the garden of Cheras-the first kings of Kerala).Keralas or Udra Keralas were also mentioned in the Mahabharata Epic as a kingdom which took part in the Kurukshetra War on the side of the Pandavas.
Legends say that when Parasurama started living there he could not find any Brahmins among them. Hence, he seems to have brought in Namboodiri Brahmins, who remain the original Kerala Brahmins, and also consecrated 108 Shiva temples, 108 Bhagawathi (Shaktam) temples and 18 Ayyappa temples. The list of such temples, founded by Parasurama, are available in a few folk songs.
The first known rulers of Kerala were the Cheras and the first known language was Tamil. The first inscriptions were written in archaic scripts called Kolezhuthu and Vattezhthu. One of the greatest among the Chera kings was Cheran Chenguttuvan. His brother Elango wrote a great Tamil book called 'Silappadikaram'. Kannagi was the heroine of the book and has many temples in Kerala dedicated to her. After the Cheras, Kerala split in to several smaller principalities constantly at war with each other.
The first temples of Kerala were called Kavu (places of security or protection). Most of them were temples under a tree in the forest, with no buildings or roof. Similar temples exist all over Tamil Nadu as well. In a majority of such places of worship, the gods consecrated were the guardian deities of the village, who were supplicated to guard the village from enemies, both natural and supernatural. In some cases, a hero who defended the village, or Mariamma (the goddess of Pox) and Lord Ganesa were revered as the deity of the village. In the case of Kerala, most of these 'Kavus' housed the temple of Goddess Parvathi or Kali. Slowly these Kavus became transformed into temples. Side-by-side, large numbers of temples mushroomed up for Lord Shiva, and Lord Vishnu and his Avatharas. Unlike Tamil Nadu however, temples dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya were very few. There are a large number of temples for Lord Ayyappa, who was a prince of a small princely state called Pandalam, and he was considered an incarnation of Dharma Sastha (the son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu), whose temples are still popular in the Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Unlike temples in Tamil Nadu, most of the temples were neither of granite structures nor were they gigantic. In fact, brick and laterite stones were used in building these temples and they were comparatively small. The sanctum called the “Sree Kovil” was either square or round. The roofs were mostly clad with copper sheets or unbaked clay tiles. They were in the shape of a pyramid in the case of square temples and conical in the case of round temples. Some temples have 'Kalasam', which is an ornamental piece made of either brass, or in a few cases gold, embroidered near the edge of the roof. A very large majority of temples did not have entrance gopurams or Vimanams over the deity, like those in Tamil Nadu. Temple architectures similar to those in Kerala are also found in the coastal Karnataka districts. Many archaeologists are of the opinion that these structures closely resemble the Himalayan temples. The Sree Kovil was surrounded by a Prakaram (an enclosed space, sometimes with a small corridor). Just outside the Sree Kovil was the Namaskara Mandapam, which was used by the learned Brahmin males for reciting slokas and Vedas. In most cases, there was only one outlet from this enclosed space. On the south western corner, a kitchen was normally constructed, and some temples have sub-temples in this first Prakaram itself. Inside the prakaram there are several 'Bali peedams', which represent deities like the Nava Grahas. Outside this Prakaram, there normally is a Dwaja Sthambham (flag pole) and a big Bali peetam (stone for sacrifice). Big temples often have several small sub-temples outside the Prakaram. Some temples have a Koothambalam, where religious dramas are enacted.The outside walls of the 'Prakaram' are normally fitted with several oil lamps called Vilakku Madam. The structure with the prakaram and the Sree Kovil is called 'Nalambalam'. Very few temples have any sculptures. Some temples also have murals and small sculptures carved in wood.
The idols in these temples are normally made either of stone or wood, though in a very few cases they are made of Pancha-loha, an alloy of copper, gold, silver, brass, and iron, with copper as the major constituent (thus making Panchaloha generically a cast brass or bronze). Unlike Tamil Nadu's temples, there is no 'Uthsava-Vigrahams' which are taken out of the temples during festivals. Instead, a 'Thidambu', or an elaborate artistically created arch-shaped mount with gilded frontage, having the image of the deity, is taken out and mounted on caparisoned elephants. 'Ratha" or Chariots, or floats etc are rarely seen in Kerala. In most of the Kerala temples, only one God is consecrated inside the sanctum although multi-deity temples are also present in some places. For example, it is either a Krishna Temple, or Parvathi temple or a Shivatemple. Of course, the idol of Ganesa can be seen in most temples, since he is regarded as the common factor for any worship.
Abhishekams (anointment) are performed only to stone or metal idols. In the case of wooden idols, the preferred wood was that of the jack fruit tree. Abhishekam is not performed for such statues but the statue is coated with saffron mixed in oil (Chandattam). This ensures a very long life for the wooden statues. The preferred form of worship in Kerala temples is based on 'Thanthra'. The priests who do worship are either Namboodiris (Kerala Brahmins) or Embranthiris (Kannada Brahmins) belonging to coastal Karnataka. Some of them are also called Potthis. Since the worship form is centered round Thanthra, it is very much different from the Agama form of worship practiced in Tamil Nadu temples. As an example, were a thanthri to come out of the sanctum even for a moment, he has to take a dip at the temple tank -- that is fully immerse himself and remain in the wet dress right through his time inside the sanctum. Tamil Iyer priests are not recruited in Kerala temples, since they follow the agama type of worship. Rather, Tamil Iyers have built their own temples in Agraharams where they live, and follow their own way of worship. Uthralikkavu near Wadakkancheri is perhaps the only Kerala temple where a Tamil Iyer is a Thanthri.
Most of the temples were owned by kings or noble families. With the coming of democracy, most of them are under the management of autonomous organizations called Devaswams, which are part of the government. Most of these temples had huge lands as property, but with the enactment of Land Reforms Act by the communist government, most of them became very poor. Nevertheless, today only a very small percentage of temples are dilapidated or neglected. This is because every temple is visited by the local population in the mornings after a bath as a part of their culture and tradition, as also they consider the temple as their own. This community awareness is so great that wherever they are in India or abroad, they make it a point to attend the festivals of the temple and contribute to its upkeep. This fact is a little strange, since the major politicians of Kerala are atheists.
Unlike other states of India, while the worship in the sanctum is performed by Namboodiris or Embrandiris, the management of these temples is done by the rich landlords, assisted by a few Hindu castes called Ambalavasis. (People who live or are dependent on the temples). They are normally strict vegetarians and have different roles to play in the upkeep of a temple. For example, the 'Poduval' caste is in charge of management, the 'Warrier' caste is in charge of looking after the garden of the temple and providing flower garlands for worship in the temple, the 'kurukkals' are in charge of supplying milk to the temple, the 'Marars' are in charge of playing of musical instruments for the temple, the 'Poduval' and 'Nambeesan' are in charge of singing in front of the deity and the 'Chakyars' are in charge of propagating the ancient stories about the temple. Castes with such delineation of responsibilities in temple affairs are not found outside Kerala.
Apart from the 'Agama' practice in contrast to the 'thanthra' practice, several aspects of temple activities are very much different in Kerala. In most of the temples, the custom of Sribali (Seeveli) is carried out, which involves taking the Lord around the temple. In poor temples, this is done on the head of the priest, but in rich temples, this is done on the top of elephants. Chariots are almost never present in Kerala temples, except in those managed by Tamil Brahmins. However, the deity is taken out of the temple on the top of elephants to the nearest river. There the deity is given the ritual bath (called Arattu in Malayalam). Apart from this, most of the temples have festivals called Poorams and Vela. Both these festivals  are held in honour of the deity by the local people. The population is normally divided on the basis of the locality they live in and each locality takes a pooram or Vela to the temple. There is virtually a competition among each locality to excel the others. Most of them have seeveli on the top of elephants accompanied by an instrumental ensemble called Pancha Vadhyam with its own typical instruments. Musical instruments like Nadaswaram of Tamil Nadu are not popular in Kerala temples, though it is widely used in family functions. In many temples, as a grand finale, in festivals like Pooram or Vela, a display of a huge quantities of fireworks is done for entertainment. In fact, some temple festivals like the Thrissur Pooram have attracted large numbers of visitors, from both within and outside the country. The fireworks are an offering to please the God inside the temple. In most of the temples where the presiding deity is a Goddess, an oracle called 'Velichappadu' is present. These Velichapadus go into trances and perform activities which are paranormal. They are especially active during festivals and many devotees consult them as representative of the deity to mitigate their personal problems.
Another practice in Kerala temples is that males are allowed entry into the temple only if they do not wear a shirt or a vest - that is, they are uncovered above the waist. Most of them enter bare chested but some drape a towel. Women  devotees have to wear Kerala-centric dresses like Saree, Mundu or Pavadai (petticoat). They are not allowed inside the temple without these typical Kerala-type dresses. Most of the temples do not allow non-Hindus, and photography inside the temple is strictly prohibited.
As a reminder of the nature of worship practiced in this region in the past, there are temples dedicated to snake Gods, Para Brahmam, the individual Pandavas, and to Brahma, who normally is not worshiped. There is a temple near Kottayam, where the Goddess is considered to have menstrual periods. In Kodungallor, people believe that the Goddess would only be pleased by singing of very vulgar sexually explicit songs during the Kodungallore Bharani (a major festival).
Yet another interesting aspect of Kerala temple is the 'Ashta Mangalya Prasnam'. This is an astrological investigation to ascertain whether a particular decision by the temple management has divine approval or to seek specific remedy for calamitous happenings around the temple. For example, if the temple wants to find out whether a new idol can be consecrated or acquire one more elephant etc, an ashta mangalya prasnam is resorted to. A group of very capable astrologers carry out the Ashta Mangalya Prasnam, where there is a sustained debate as to what the position of each star means. The majority opinion is taken as the divine interpretation and the decision is finalized and carried out. Both the people as well as the Devaswoms strictly follow the recommendations of the astrologers.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Temples of Pallipuram Agraharam , Palakkad

Temples of  Pallipuram  Agraharam  , Palakkad

By
Rajeswari Ranganathan




(My heart felt thanks to Smt Rajeswari for  permitting this  great  write up to be put in my blog.God bless her)

Pallipuram Agraharam ( my native agraharam) in the heart of Palakkad town is a settlement of Vaishnavites.. The Lakshmi Narayana Swamy temple in the agraharam is one, believed to be constructed by the immigrants who came here presumably 700 years ago. Inside the prakaram of Lakshminarayana Swamy temple, Poorna-Pushakalamba sameta shri Hariharaputra ( Ayyappa) sannidhi was also built years ago.The natives of pallipuram are followers of Sri Ahobila Mutt and Vaikanasa panchangam.
The temple is unique in its construction because the rising sun's rays on the mEsha Sankramam Day, falls on the lotus feet of the Deity. The unique "jala Pradhishta" of the murthy might have been done realising the difficulty in providing a sea bed to lord Narayana. The Deity is in a sitting posture with Mahalakshmi seated on the left lap". Kodiyettam for ( flag hoisting in Dwajasthambam) begins on the first day of mEsha sankramam ie on Vishu. And Rathotsavam is celebrated on the 9th day.
"Legend says that centuries ago when the village houses had thatched roofs, there were frequent fires and the villagers were put to lot of hardships. They did not know what to do and decided to perform Sahasrannama japam for a mandalam period at Brahma Muhoortham after taking holy bath in the temple tank.
During the course of the parayana, one of the villagers suddenly got inspired and said " to remedy this fire havoc, go to kurichimalai (2 kms away from Pallipuram) and bring the idol of Lord Ayyapa which is visible on the foot steps of the hill and install the idol on the right side of Lakshminarayana Swamy inside the prakaram." The villagers immediately rushed to the spot and found the idol and installed it".
Here Ayyappa is worshiped as Hariharaputra along with Purna and Pushkala. Every year in the month of Dec/Jan, the agraharam celebrates ShAshtaprIti (Ayyappa Festival) At the time of main DeepAradhana, the entire Payasam ( 2 different types of Kheer/pudding) is offered as naivedyam.
Until 3 decades ago, majority of the settlers were in business, banking in particular.As a result, the agraharam is known for it's hospitality and the Rathotsavam in the month of April and Ayyappan festival feast of the Pallipuram agraharam is quite popular. Majority of the natives lost their land holdings after the Land Tribunal Act.Slowly they began moving out in search of better opportunities.
The annual Shastapriti festival ( Ayyappan festival) falls today. Lord Ayyappa is offered the two payasams ( pudding) as Naivedyam. Thereafter the payasams are served during Anna-dAnam.
PS: The picture was snapped during last year's festival.


 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Alathiyur Perumthiri(Hanuman) koil

Pray  Lords Hanuman ready  to jump to Lanka  for mental peace

Alathiyur Perumthiri(Hanuman)  koil

Compiled by
P.R.Ramachander



Alathiyur is a  small village   near Tirur of Malappuram district. Here  there is a famous Hanuman temple called as Sree Alathiyur Perumthrikovil

   .Devotees believe that  this Hanuman was consecrated  3000  years back by sage Vasishta  himself.
  The most interesting fact of the temple is it is a Rama temple where  Hanuman is only an Upa devatha. Rama  is without Sita and Hanuman  appears   to be taking orders  from Rama. Devotees  believe  that Lord Rama is sending Hanuman to search for Sita and is telling him the “Abijnana Vakyam( words  for identification) that would  help him to identify  himself to Sita when he locates her. So the face of Hanuman shows concentration and attention. It is interesting to see that Lord Lakshmana  also is not with him   because Lord Rama wants the secret words not to be heard by any one except his emissary. Possibly this is the story  of Indra’s son  attacking Sita as a crow. Sri. Lakshamana is separately  positioned to the west within the temple complex a but a few meters away from Sri Rama,  Outside the periphery of Naalambalam. It is believed that Sri Lakshmana was keeping himself at a small distance away deliberately..

   In the temple there   is also a long granite plantform  , with sea  being indicated at one end, possibly symbolic of the   great mountain platform  from which Hanuman  jumped   to cross the sea.
   This Hanuman is considered as guardian of children  .He is also suppose  remove mental agonies of people just like he removed  the mental agony of Lord Rama.Most of the Malayali families   around the temple pray  before going to bed “Oh dear Hanuman of Alathiyur, Kindly keep bad dreams away from us And if we were to be haunted by bad dreams do please wake us up by gently taping us with your tail.” It is believed that those who recites the verse before going to bed will not have bad dreams”

  The devotees coming to the temple   are encouraged   to run, jump and cross  the granite platfom so that  their children would become more healthy

The Alathiyoor perumthrikkovil temple is special to its devotees for very many reasons. Sri Rama is the presiding deity here. The daily pooja, rituals, offerings by devotees and spectacular annual temple festival – all are held in honour of the presiding deity, Sri Rama. However, the devotees popularly prefer to the temple, the “Hanumankavu” temple. And in a way, it symbolizes the triumph of the supreme strength of bhakthi of Sri Hanuman as an ideal, which overshadows  Sri Rama. maryada purushothaman – he is separated from his beloved consort, Seetha, by the mighty Ravana who has abducted her to Lanka. Sri Rama is seen entrusting Hanuman the impossible task of locating the whereabouts of Seetha. Sri Rama confides to Hanuman about how to look for Seetha in the Lanka. Hanuman, now, only has to cross the vast and formidable sea that separates the Lanka from the main land. 33 crore Gods gathered to witness this significant act. It is an act in which the avathar purush Sri Rama seeks the assistance of his Bhaktha, Hanuman. All the Gods bestow Hanuman with their enormous strength, so that he succeeds in his mission. For Hanuman, this is a very significant moment. And hence, his pre-eminence, at Alathiyoor.

The favorite offering of Sri. Hanuman is “wet avil ( Pothi avil )“ and another important offering is “kadali” plantain.

The temple became  famous  because  of Smt Jayalalitha’s  visit   on the advice of an astrologer .After that very large number of devotees  visit this temple  every day.
The temple  is 6 km away from Tirur   Railway station and 39 km away from Calicut international air port

EVENTS
TIME
Morning Pooja
06:15 AM - 07:00 AM
Hanumanu Nivedyam
07:00 AM - 09:00 AM
Hanumanu Kuzhacha Avil Nivedyam
09:00 AM - 09:30 AM
Hanumanu Nivedyam
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Nada Closing
11:00 AM

You can see the temple and hear  about the temple in Malayalam in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KraYkwHszXg


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Cherpulassery Ayyappan Kavu

Cherpulassery Ayyappan Kavu

Compiled by
P.R.Ramachander







Cherpulassery  ins an important town of Valluvanadu, and is between Pattambi and Perinthalmanna. It has one very famous  Ayyappan temple. Here Swamy  Ayyappan is with his wife Prabha devi   and son Sathyaka. This temple is called  as Sabarimala of Malabar as well as Sabarimala  of  women. This is one of the 108   Ayyappa temples  consecrated  by Lord Parsaurama,It seems Dharma Sastha  ascended the throne of this  temple  after gaining  mastery  in Vedas  ad so many people bring their  children for Vidhatambham   at this temple
There is an interesting story about its origin, It seems ten Nambhudiri families  were living  near this temple.One of them started  praying the Dharma Sastha at Thiruvullakavu sastha temple at Peruvanam  for the birth of a child to them  .On the day he completed his penance when he had decided to return back,  he saw a black stone near him, which was  not there before. As he was a scholar he could find out that it was Dharma Sastha  himself. So with the rice and Jaggery that he had ,  he prepared Ada and offered it to the idol .He indeed got a son  who became a mendicant  and passed away.Since there was no one in his family  , his manager  converted their residence in to the present temple ,The Gaeden of Jasmine maintained  by the Nambudiri  became the sanctum sanctorum  of the temple.  Nava Grahas , Ganapathy, Brahma Rakshas  and Nagaraja are  the upra devathas of this temple.
   This is one of the few temples of Lord ayyappa where marriages can be solemnized in front of Ayyappa A large number of pregnant women also visit this temple during the 7th month of their pregnancy. It is customary for expectant mothers to visit temples and seek the blessings of the deity. They typically start with the temples in their neighborhood and end this season of temple visits at the Cherpulassery Ayyappan Kavu. Ada is the favourite  offering to Lord Sastha  here There is a famous  ten day pooram festival in this temple
In this temp[e  Theeyattu  which consists of fire and   singing  of stories  is offered to the God as a special  offering .This is performed THiyyadi Nambiars
“The all-male art centres around the mythological story of the birth of Lord Ayyappa from the relationship of Lord Vishnu  in his ephemeral impersonation as Mohini  and Lord Shiva .
The most common version of Thiyyattu involves four phases of presentation: a) Kalamezhuthu (sketching the kalam—picture—of Ayyappa using natural pigments), b) Kottum Pattum (rendition of invocatory songs of Ayyappa and a stylised narration of the story of his birth), c) Koothu gesture -laden dance enacting the build-up story to the delivery of the lord) and d) Velichchappaadu (the slow-paced to frenzied dance of the oracle who eventually erases the kalam—the image of the lord sketched on the sanctified floor). It takes roughly a couple of hours for the kalam (image) of the lord to be completed, after which the rest of the three rituals would consume nearly three hours altogether.
The picture of Ayyappa is sketched and embellished in five natural colours—white (rice powder), yellow (turmeric powder), green (ground semi-dry leaves of the 'vaaka' or manchadi' tree, red (a mix of turmeric powder and slaked lime) and black (powdered charred rice husk). The lord invariably holds his weapons like the sword and the bow-and-arrow, and, in more elaborate versions is sketched mounted on the tiger or the horse.
The songs—accompanied by the beats of 'para', a smaller version of the chenda , and the cymbals called ilathalam —praising the lord bear a mix of quaint old Malayalam  and Tamil with a streak of endemic tunes, some of which can be traced to classical ragas of the Sopanam style of Kerala music besides that belonging to the Carnatic idiom. The stylised rendition of the birth of Ayyappa, called Thottam, also sticks to the same mix of languages, but is devoid of music.
The Koothu is enacted with no make-up but a defined set of costumes. Facial emotions are nil, dance movements are minimal and hand gestures would look the less refined versions of Koodiyattam and Kathakali . The Koothu is usually performed to the accompaniment of chenda, ilathalam and 'para'.
The Velichchappadu (oracle), wielding a small sword, is bare-chested but for the garland and, canonically, with a flowy hair; the face either bearded or clean-shaven. Around the waist, he is draped in cloth pieces of white and red colours. The oracle begins with slow steps while circumambulating around the 'kalam', but the tempo gains with the circles he make—around 9 or 11 of them, overall. Then he leaps onto the image in a frenzy, but is calm when he later erases the image with both legs. The face of the lord alone is erased with the (right) hand. Out from the 'kalam', the oracle utters 'revelatory' sentences in (presumed) trance -- 'kalpana' as they are called. The devotees are distributed with the prasadam which is the mixed powder used in the 'kalam'.
The art is sometimes staged in bigger forms that last from dawn to late night when it is called Udayasthamaya Thiyyattu. In such cases, the Koothu would deal with twelve stories ahead of the birth of Ayyappa. Such performances usually feature the challenging 'Pantheeraayiram', which is when the oracle would take a (three- to four-hour-long) break from the circumambulations to break (dehusked and sufficiently polished) coconuts totalling 12,000 to the rhythmic beats of chenda-and-ilathalam concert that would gain speed towards the climax.
The Thiyyadi Nambiar families, despite their existence in central Kerala, enjoy the popularity of their art more in the upstate Malabar belt. “ (Quoted from Wikipedia)
The temple  opens daily at 5 Am   and is open up to 11.30 Am  and again opens in 5pm   and is kept open till 8 pm
The nearest Bus stand is Ottha palam  from where the temple is 17 km away .Buses are  also available from Pattambi and Perinthalmanna.   and the temple address is 

Sree Cherpulassery Ayyappankavu

Cherpulassery (po) Palakkad
Pin:679503 Ph: 0466 2282304

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Panniyur Maha Varaha Temple

The great Varaha  temple of Kerala  famous for its Abeeshta Sidhi pooja(Desire  fulfilling  worship)

Panniyur  Maha Varaha  Temple

Compiled  by
P.R.Ramachander








   This is  the very famous  Varaha temple in Kerala (There is a Lakshmi Varaha  temple in Trivandrum)   and it is believed  that it was the first temple to be consecrated by Lord Parasurama after   recovering  the land of Kerala   from the sea.It is situated in a place called KUmbidi  in Palakkad district , near a place called Kuttipuram
There  is an interesting story about   this temple .Lord Parsurama  r to get rid of  the sin of killing  several kshatriyas  had to dobate   all the land he had won to sage Kashyapa. After that he became a person who is landless .AS per instruction of Lord Vishnu  , he   stood up  on the  Gokarna mountains  and threw his axe in to the sea and recovered some land  from the sea.The new land had lots of problems  and Lord Vishnu  instructed  him  to v build a Varaha  temple so that  the land gets stabilised.This is the temple of Mahavaraha  in Panniyur , Kumbdi. Some how atttemptes to build a temple v building there   did not succeed .Once when some carpenters were trying to v build it , an old man who was sad came  in to the temple .The carpenters neglected him and even refused to give him food.He was Perumthachan the great carpenter  who was son of  sage Vararuchi.He theninspected the wod that  they were  going to use  to build the temple  and  marked several defects in them and left. But that night the carpenters were woken up by the sound of chisel of Peruthachan , who completed the work of that temple. HE then told that carpenters that  he  would never  touch the chisel and this would be the last   temple built by him .His chisel and rod are still preserved  u in this great temple.
  Later many families of Nambudiris settled in Kerala.The family called Azhvanchery  THambrakkal  settled down  in Panniyur and Kalpanchery thamprakkal   settled down in the neighbouring Suka puram. There was  rivalry between these villages and in this rivalry where black magic was involved the original idol of Maha Varaha   was  broken and burnt.A  great scholar   called Appath  Adeeri   six hundred years  that the temple would regain its glory He had also predicted  that  if a devotee says. “Varahamurthy  Rakshikkane(Oh Lord Varaha please protect me” thrice , he would  get fred  of all his problems. He also had said that  any one doing “Abeeshta Karya Sidhi pooja”(Worship  for fulfilment of desires) in this temple   would  get g his desires fulfilled.
   A recent Deva Prashna conducted in 1983 had indicated  that in two revolutions of Saturn(60 years)  the temple would become as prominenent as  Guruvayur and SAbari Mala
This temple is the only one in Kerala to worship the ‘Varaha’ avatar of Shri Vishnu. This temple also houses and worhips Updevtas like Sri Shiva  (‘Vadakovil’), Sri Ayyappa, Sri Durgabhagavathy, Sri Ganapathy, Sri Subramanya and Sri Lakshmi Narayan. This temple is also said to have the blessings of Chitragupta and Yakshi. This temple also has a stage and a huge ground to accommodate spectators. The legendary ‘Panniyur thura’ is located just to the North of the Mahakshetra. It is believed that the fishpond constructed by Parashuram used to be located just a little south of the temple.
Among the different pujas conducted here the most important one happens to be the ‘Abhishta Sidhdhi Puja’. This puja costs Rs.101/- and is believed to pave way for ‘Abhishta Karya Sidhdhi’.
The Temple is situated in Kumbdi, a village in Palakkad district on the border of Malappuram district is just 4 km from the Keltron Junction, in between Kuttippuram and Edappal on SH-69 ( Kuttippuram-Thrissur Highway ). The famous Guruvayur temple is only 33 km away.
By Road
There are KSRTC and private buses available to Kumbidi from nearby towns.

Routes by Road
Thrissur/Guruvayur side take Kunnamkulam-Edappal route(SH-69) and before reaching Kuttippuram take right at Keltron Jn. to Kumbidi.
Kozhikode side take Valanchery-Kuttippuram route (NH-17), after Kuttippuram bridge take left at Keltron Jn. to Kumbidi.
Palakkad side take Ottappalam-Pattambi-Thrithala route to Kumbidi.

By Rail
Nearest railway station is at Kuttippuram is only 7 km away

By Air
The nearest airport is Calicut International Airport (distance 70 km) and the Cochin International/Nedumbassery Airport (distance 100 km) away. All major International flight services are operated from these airports.
Panniyur Sri Varahamurthy Temple is open from 6 AM to 10 AM and from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM 

'Sandhya Deeparadhana'(Pooja during evening time) is considered as the most auspicious time to seek the blessings of Sri Varahamurthy when idol would be covered  in sandal paste   and adorned in Jewellery  

Location and Contact
Panniyur Sri Varahamurthy Temple, Aanakkara, Palakkad, Kerala - 679 551

Monday, December 4, 2017

Puducode Bhagawathy Temple

Puducode Bhagawathy Temple

By Ammu Patti
Puthucode is a picturesque small village lying on the western most border of Palghat District and bordering Thrissur District. It is approximately 40kms away from both Palghat and Thrissur towns. The nearest railway stations are Palghat and Thrissur. The nearest airports are Coimbatore and Kochi. The village is located 6 km west of Vadakkencherry on the Palakkad-Thrissur stretch of the National Highway 47. There are regular bus services from Thrissur and Palghat to Puthucode.
Puthucode agraharam with four streets with row houses was exclusively inhabited by Brahmins until a few decades back. Where the four streets meet is the famous Annapoorneswari temple. It would be apt to say the 4 agraharams are radiating from the central Annapoorneswari temple.
It is said that Sage Parasurama installed 108 Durga temples in many parts of India and this is one of them. Currently this comes under Naduvil Madom Devaswam. The daily poojas are performed by Tamil Brahmins except during the Navarathri festival when they are performed by Thantris affiliated to Naduvil Madom Devaswam.
There is a belief among Brahmins of this village that this idol (4 feet tall) was got made in Truthala near Kuttanad and was brought by Brahmins of the village belonging to three Vedas by head load, with chanting the Vedas all the way without stopping any where on the way. It is believed at some stage in the life of the temple, the Tamil Brahmins gave the temple to the Naduvil Madam. According to a stone inscription, Sri Godavarma Raja gifted lots of rice fields for the maintenance of the temple. Also, several families had bequeathed land to the Devaswom in the olden days for the Annadhanam during Navarathri.These properties however, were abolished due to the Land reform act of Kerala. But the Tamil Brahmins of the village joined together and formed a trust called SAPCO (Sree Annapuneshwari Pooja Coordinators trust ) which is managing the temple at present. Though the Goddess is called Annapurneshwari, she holds in her hands Shanku and Chakra (Not ladle and vessel like the Annapurneshwari of Benares).
The temple occupies a vast area with a large outer Prakaaram and an inner Prakaaram. The main entrance to the temple faces east and as you enter the temple there is a Deepasthambham beyond which is the entrance to the inner Prakaaram of the temple. The inner Prakaaram is also very large with wide corridors known as Vathil maadams along the four sides, where discourses and concerts used to take place. The madapalli or the cook house is also situated here. As one gets inside the Mahaganapathy Sannidhi facing east can be seen. Going around the Mahaganapathy Sannidhi, you reach the main temple of Annapoorneswari. The Deity faces west. The Deity is also known as Santha Durga and is a very powerful Devi bestowing Her benevolent blessings to all Her devotees. The four handed idol of Devi is almost 4 feet tall. She is always dressed in a Pattu Pavadai. To see the Devi in her full Chandana kappu after the Deeparadhana in the evening is at once electrifying. It gives one such a joy and peace and real happiness. One just cannot take the eyes off Devi when She is adorned in full Chandana kappu.
In front of the Garba Griham or Sanctum is the Namaskara Mandapam, where Veda Parayanams and other daily recitals of Devi Mahatmyam and Shyamala Dandakam are done by devotees.
When you come around the Namaskara Mandapam, there is the Prathishta for Naga devata, Dharmasastha and Palliyarkkal Bhagavathy on the north-west corner of the main temple. A unique offering (vazhipadu) of Azhil is conducted in front of this Sannidhi. A new cloth (a set of 4 thorthus) dipped in Gingelly oil is hung on the poll in between two stone pillars. After doing a special pooja the archaka lights the cloth dipped in oil and allows it to burn down to ashes. This ash is used as prasadam and smeared on the forehead. It is believed that this offering will relieve one of all types of obstacles and misfortunes in life.
The other important offerings (vazhipadu) in the temple are Kalabhabhishekam, Niramala, Chuttuvilakku, Archanas, etc.
On the outer prakaaram, is the west nada, which is also known as Aanapandhi which has the gold plated dwajasthambam. This is where the Thayambaka and Keli take place during Navarathri celebrations.
Along the northern compound wall of the temple is the Agrisala, where cooking and dining take place during the Annadhanam of Navarathri.
The Sarat Navarathri during the months of September and October is the biggest festival in Puthucode Bhagavathy temple. All Her subjects who are far from home assemble at Puthucode during these nine days. The Dwajarohanam for the festival is on the Prathama thithi after Mahalaya Amavasya and the Aarattu on Vijayadashami day or the 10th day from the Dwajarohanam. There are daily processions with caparisoned elephants twice a day for the first 4 days inside the temple on the outer Praakaram and on the following 4 days the procession of caparisoned elephants with accompanying Panchavadyam and Chendamelam is taken to the 4 villages on successive days, starting with the South village on the 6th day. The Utsavamoorthy of the deity is taken atop the caparisoned elephant to all the villages for Her to see Her subjects. There is a Pallivetta on the 9th night followed by Aarattu on the 10th day. During Navarathri the Utsavamoorthy is taken atop the elephant to the nearby stream every morning where the deity is given a bath and after due alankarams taken back to the temple.
Measures of paddy and rice and other items like puffed rice, flowers, etc known as Parayeduppu are offered to Bhagavathy during the procession of elephants to the respective villages. The Parayeduppu for the south village is on the Aarattu day when the deity returns to the temple after her holy bath in the stream.
After Aarattu the elephant has to touch the Dwajasthambham which will mark the end of the festival for that year.
In 2003, devotees installed a new Dwajasthambham fully covered with gold.
True to Her name there is Annadhanam on all the 9 days of Navarathri for all devotees. Puthucode Pulinkari which is served with Rice and Olan is unique to this Navarathri Sadhya. The Sadasadaya Payasam (Idichujpizhinja payasam) offered to Bhagavathy during these days is also very famous. There is a saying in tamil Puthucoda vitta gramamum illai, Pulinkariye vitta kootanum illai which can be translated as, Puthucode is the ultimate among agraharams and Pulinkari is the ultimate among curries.
The Devi has blessed all Her children with wealth, health and positions and they in turn pay their respects to Her by donating to the temple funds.
The temple is open from 5.30am to 10.00am and 4.30pm to 9.00pm for worship. The Deeparadhana in the evening is at 6.30pm.
At the end of North Village is a Siva temple. The temple is situated at a lower level than the surrounding village. There is a large tank known as ayyankulam in front of the Siva temple. The presiding deity is facing east. There are also sannidhis for Mahaganapathy and Dharmasastha inside the temple. The annual festival in this Siva temple starts on the Thiruvathira day of the Malayalam month Dhanu and the Arattu is on the 8th day. Mahasivarathri is also celebrated in a grand manner with Maharudram, Abhishekam etc. Annabhishekam on the Pournami day of the Malayalam month Thulam is also very famous.
The temple opens for worship at 5.30am to 10.30 am and again at 4.30pm to 9.00pm.
Just outside the Siva temple there is a newly constructed Sivamahal in the north village, which can be used for functions like Marriage, Upanayanam etc.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sasthakotta Dharma Sastha

Sasthakotta Dharma Sastha

Compiled  By
P.R.Ramachander




  It is  another very famous  ancient Sastha temples of Kerala. The temple is surrounded by fresh water (sasthamkotta lake) lake on all three sides(The biggest fresh water lake of Kerala)   and  hill with dense forest on the other side .A small  town called Sasthamkotta has come up near  these forests.
Shri Dharma Sastha temple is built in Kerala style of architecture  and was built by the  Pandalam family .Sasthamcotta is a well historic place where the Second World Religion Conference was held in 1971, in which the Global Religious Celebrities participated.
Sasthamcotta is well connected with the other parts of Kerala by road and rail. The National Highway (NH 47) passes through Karunagapally and Chavara. Both these towns are just 12 km from Sasthamcotta. Two other important places on MC Road (SH 1) that connect to Sasthamcotta are Adoor and Kottarakara; both approximately 18 km away.  

Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plies regular bus services to this place from Kollam, Karunagapally, Kottarakara, Adoor and Pathanamthitta. KSRTC also runs regular services to Pampa via Sasthamcotta during the Sabarimala season. 

Sasthamcotta has a small railway station about 4 km from Sasthamcotta town. Karunagappally railway station is about 12 km from Sasthamcotta. Kollam Junction and Kayamkulam Junction are the two major railway stations close to Sasthamcotta.

Folklore has that the idol consecrated at Sasthamcotta temple is none other than the swayambhu idol worshipped by Lord Ram during his trip to Lanka (Sri Lanka) in search of his consort, Sita. It seems   Lord Rama when he was going from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya visited this place , It is  believed that, Lord Rama offered ‘pithru tharpan’ on the banks of the Sasthamcotta Lake and he deputed the chief architect of his vanara (monkey) team, ‘Neelan’ to serve his host. Neelan is believed to be the predecessor of the monkey clan in this temple.It is also believed  that  Lord Hanuman when he was searching for  Sita has visited this place , There is  also a prathishta  of Ganesa  in this temple.

    This temple has very large number   of monkeys roaming all round it. The monkeys that once colonised the surrounding woods were believed to be followers of the prime diety, Dharmasastha, and hence, are revered by devotees. Thousands of devotees visiting the temple feed these monkeys with nuts and fruits.

 A few years ago, the monkeys began to face shortage of food and they began to snatch food from visitors to the temple and children going to nearby schools and colleges. The Courts then ordered the Devaswom (Temple) Board to make arrangements to feed the monkeys of the temple adequately. The Board, being short of funds, sought support from well-wishers of the temple but adequate funds were not forthcoming. Mr Gopala B. Pillai, founder and president of Wild Republic, and a native of Sasthamkotta, heard about this dilemma and offered to set up a Trust Fund jointly with the Devaswom Board to ensure perpetual feeding of the monkeys. This was achieved in 1996 and since then the monkeys of the temple have never been in want of food. On local festival days, when people feast at home, the Trust arranges a similar feast for the monkeys of the temple also.
 The presiding deity of the temple is  , Shri Dharma Sastha who is accompanied by his consort 'Prabha' and son 'Sathyaka'.
The highlight of this temple is the 10 day annual festival the month of Kumbham (February-March). The festival includes the colourful Kettukazhcha procession of various bullocks, horses, decorated chariots, folk art performances etc. Various folk arts such as Mayilattam, Kaala (bull motif), Kuthira (horse motif), Ammankudam are performed. The festival concludes with the Arattu ceremony, five caparisoned elephants take part in a procession held at midnight. Another important festival is Shiva Prathishta Vaarshikom which is held in Atham in the Malayalam month of Edavam (May-June).
Entry is restriceted to Hindus.
Sasthamcotta Neelakandan                                                                                                                                                
Sasthamcotta Neelakandan is the elephant at Sasthamcotta Temple (Sasthamcotta Manikandan was the first elephant at the temple. Sasthamcotta Manikandan passed away in the year 1999). Neelakandan is the vital part of Sasthamcotta temple. He carries the deity of the Lord Dharmasastha during annual festival processions and ceremonial circumambulations in the temple. Nelakandan is donated by Sri. Ajith Kumar, who is a well known business man in the UAE, as his offering.

Sasthamcotta Sree Dharma Sastha Temple is open from 4:30 AM to 11:30 AM and from 5 PM to 7:45 PM