Monday, May 21, 2012

Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Swamy Temple

There is a very famous story that the idol of Ambalapuzha Srikrishna Temple was brought
on a wooden boat from Karikulam temple of Kurichi accompanied by several other yachts.
When they reached Champakkulam it was night already and they decided to stay somewhere
there as a safety measure.But informers were sent to  Maharajah Pooradam Thirunal
Devanarayanan of Chempakaseery Dynasty about this.The  group of people who where
bringing the idol were allowed to stay in the premises of an eminent Christian family 'Mappilassery' and the head of the family 'Itty Thomman' and the members of the family
greeted them with warmth welcome.The idol was kept in a special room of the house which
was well cleaned and with full honor.They lighted oil lamps before the deity and revered with
humble hearts.
Next day the Maharajah and his delegates reached there with gifts  of many varieties and also
fruits and vegetables etc to  Mapilassery house where they were received by 'Itty Thomman'.
The Maharajah and  his men were served a feast in that house and after wards the people of
that area including Itty Thomman accompanied the flotilla carrying the idol to Ambalapuzha
temple.The room where the idol was kept for one day is still maintained as it was before 500
years. ( this events was in the year 1545 A.D.)The Champakkulam Moolam boat race was begun to commemorate  this event.
When the house at Mapilassery was rebuilt then also they kept the room without demolishing
it and maintains it  as a 'Devasthanam'.A perpetually burning lamp as an eternal one is there
still now which was lighted on the night the idol was brought there.Maharajah asked them to
maintain it for ever and gave them free coconut groves to maintain it.The members of that house still consider that room  as sacred.Every year the practice of sending gifts to Mapilassery
house with several delegates is still carried out and giving them feast by the family is also
done.After wards only the boat race starts.
It is stated that when an Idol was made to consecrate at Ambalapuzha temple, just  at a late stage
that it was found that there was some thing wrong with the idol and consecrating it would be
not auspicious.The time was fixed for consecration of the idol and immediately they had to find another and could find 
one at Kurichy temple which was brought on boats.
The Champakkulam Moolam Boat race is celebrated on the Moolam star day of Mithunam(July-Aug) but the consecration day of Ambalapuzha temple is celebrated on
'Rohini star day of Edavam Month'.This year the consecration day is on May 22, 2012.
More over it has to be noted that the temple at Ambalapuzha is believed to be built in the year A.D.790. The idol we see  there now might not be  the same original one.In each
and every prayer and praise Ambalapuzha Krishnan is being called as 'Unni Krishna'
'Unni Kanna'  'Bala Gopala' etc as a child or boy where as the idol existing at the temple now
is of 'Parthasarathy' holding a whip  in one hand and a sacred conch in another.
In the beginning  when the temple was started in AD 790  the idol would have been of little Krishna which
because of some reason had to be changed and Deva Narayana Maharajah might have done it 
as we see now.But all the devotees still call him as 'Unni Kanna' and not as 'Partha sarathy'.
The main offering to the deity is 'Pal Payasam'.It is prepared by boiling rice in milk and adding sugar to make it very sweet.Approximately for 3kg raw rice they use 33 litres
of milk and 10 kg sugar.Four times water is also used and for all the process they takes about four hours to prepare it.It is still prepared daily in the traditional way  and offered to God and distributed 
to devotees.
There is a story regarding the 'Palpayasam' of Ambalapuzha temple.Once Lord  Sri Krishna
himself reached 'Chempakassery Maharajah' of Ambalapuzha as a sage and challenged him to play 'Chaturangam'(a typical play like chess having 64 squares).In olden times if challenged by somebody to play that game it was considered as a prestige issue and Maharajahs accepted the challenge.(Maharajah Nalan, Pandavas etc lost the throne and every thing like this).Our Chepakassery Maharajah also accepted the challenge and before
the game asked the opponent Sage what prize he would like to have if he defeat the King.
He replied that as a person not interested in worldly pleasures what he needed was just one
grain of rice on the first square of the playing board, 2 grains on the second 4 on the third
8 on the fourth 16 on the fifth 32 on the sixth square 64 on the seventh and so on till the 64th square.
Hearing this humble demand Maharajah felt unhappy and demanded to ask for a higher
prize but the sage said he was happy for what he asked for.The game began and need less 
to say,   the King failed.He ordered his men to measure the rice as asked by the sage for him.When the King's men calculated it then only they understood that all the rice grains in
his country and neighboring countries  would not be enough to pay him as demanded.The quantity would be several tons.Maharajah bowed down to the sage and pleaded guilty.Lord
Krishna showed him his original form and asked him to prepare 'Palpayasam' at the temple
and distribute to the devotees every day and his debt would be recovered in that way.It
was carried out for centuries and till today it is the main offering there.
The taste of 'Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam' is very famous.During the time of Poet Kunchan Nambiar who was a court member of 'Chempakassery Maharajah' there was an incident.
If Maharajah says any thing everybody would agrees to it was the custom.Once Maharajah
on his visit at the temple rejected the Palpayasam served to him saying that it was having
a bitter taste.All the accompanying men also agreed to his comment and rejected the Palpayasam except Kunchan Nambiar who drank it fully.When Maharajah asked him how
could he do that he replied he always   liked the bitter taste of Palpayasam.All the men were bleached
by that answer.

The annual festival of this temple is in the month of Meenam (March-April),  flag hoisting
on Atham Star day and Aarattu on Thiruvonam day.

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