Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cherthala Karthyayani Devi Temple

Cherthala Karthyayani Devi is famous as  "Mangalya Dayani" means she  provides 'welfare and prosperity' for the devotees
and also helps for  removing obstacles of  marriage for girls ,provides good bridegroom,assures  better married life.
The etiquette and rituals followed in Cherthala Karthyayani Temple differs a lot than other temples in Kerala.
For example there is 'Aarattu' held twice every day after flag hoisting for annual festival.The aarattu is done
in separate seven ponds in the morning one in each every day..At Chottanikkara Devi temple aarattu is held on all the nine days of the festival but not twice a day.
The temple festival virtually starts two days prior to flag hoisting and on those days 'Thalappoli' (Adoration with oil lamps and flowers by women and girls) is offered to Devi by devotees.
This temple is famous for 'Swayamvara Puspanjali' (Floral Offering) which helps for removing obstacles for marriage of girls.For a better result of this ritual   approach an Astrologer and find a suitable date and time for performing this offering
there at the temple and believe- Karthyayani Devi will bless You for a happy married life very soon.
Another phenomenon of this temple is removal of physical ailments by the sub Deity "Sastha" of this temple.
An offering known as 'Aalthadi' is done in this regard.A statue  of a human being is made out of a mixture
of rice flour,Jaggery(Molasses),ginger,cumin seed, Banana(kadali pazham),Coconut,Ghee etc and submerged
in sand covered in arecanut sheaths in front of Sastha temple.On the upper part logs of wood are burned.After
a particular time the statue is taken out and kept turned the other side up and covered  again with sand and
burned upper part with logs of fire.After a particular time the statue will be ready (to eat).It is taken out and used for pooja rituals at the Sanctum  of Sastha and given back to the devotee.It will be a delicious sweet item.The cost of performing this offering is more than 15000/- rupees.The deity Sastha (Ayyappa) is having very much importance in this  temple.
Another offering in this temple is 'Kozhiye Parathal' (Submitting    fowl bird in temple).Now a days this is forbidden
since the number of fowls in the temple compound is very large  and so a particular fees is received from the devotee and provides  a fowl bird
from the  temple authorities to the devotee who can submit it  in the temple compound supposing as if it was brought by himself.
The consecration of Cherthala temple was done by 'Vilwamangalam Samiyar'.After the consecration of
Sree Padmanabha Swamy at Trivandrum he had an inclination to consecrate 'Vishnu Maya'.He proceeded
on look out for that intention and when reached Cherthala he witnessed seven beautiful girls in a forest area.
The girls started running on his sight and Vilwamangalam Samikal understood that they were not ordinary human beings and followed them.The legend is that the girls dipped  themselves to seven ponds one after the other.
The seventh girl jumped in to a pond covered with mud ('Cher' in Malayalam) and the girl's head was covered by 'Cher'(mud) but she was caught by Swamiyar and brought out of the pond.She was consecrated
at that place by Swamiyar against her willingness by calling her bad words.By hearing that bad words Devi
smiled only is the belief and like that of Kodungallur Devi Temple singing traditional ugly songs is practiced
to an extent here also.
The Kodiyettu(Flag Hoisting) is held on Makayiram star day in the evening at 7.30.The same day she is taken in a procession for aarattu at 'Kali Pond'.The next day morning Aarattu will be held at Cheran Pond,next day at
Kelam Pond and at Pullum Pond the next day and other ponds on the consecutive days.The Aarattu at
night is every day held at 'Pallykkulam' pond.While coming back after aarattu the residents of the locality
greets Devi with offerings of  'Nirapara' 'Nilavilakku' etc.
The 'Karthika' star day in Malayalam  month 'Vrichikam' is auspicious here as the birthday of Devi.
Padayani is also held in this temple.



Special remembrance of a female elephant of this temple by name 'Prameela'.She was loved by all devotees since it  was very calm and behaved  lovingly only always.Cherthala Devi is  taken out on procession  only on female elephants and it was the duty of 'Pramila' for several years to hold Devi's  idol on her top..That elephant lived
up to 90 years which still lives in the hearts of those who loved her a lot.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

MEENABHARANI FESTIVAL

In the Malayalam months of Kumbham and Meenam which are consecutive months the 'Bharani star day'
is considered auspicious and celebrated in a grand manner in Bhadra Kali Temples.Both these days are
considered sacred and important in all the Bhadrakali temples of Kerala but in some temples more importance
is given to the Bharani star day in the month of Kumbham where as in some other more importance is given to the Bharani day in Meenam.This years Meena Bharani Festival is on Monday 26 March 2012 and this festival
is celebrated in a very grand manner at 'Kodungallur Sree Kurumba Devi Temple' which is perhaps the most
important Bhadrakali temple in Kerala.
The Kodugallur Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy temple is situated in the heart of Kodungallur town.Kodungallur is
45km from Ernakulam and 40km from Trissur.The temple administration id under Cochin Devaswom Board.
This temple is a very ancient one and supposed to be consecrated by Lord Parasurama.The legend is that
Lord Parasurama established 64 Shiva temples,64 Vishnu temples and 64 Devi temples in Kerala.Out of the
64 Devi temples four of them are most important situated in the four directions such that in the east at Palakkad
'Hemambika' in the west at Kodungallur 'Lokambika' in the north at Kollur 'Mookambika' and in the south
at Kanya Kumari 'Balambika'.Out of these four Kanyakumari  (Balambika)  and Kollur (Mookambika) are
not in Kerala at present.
Out of the two remaining temples prime importance is given to Kodungallur Devi Temple.It is believed that the
temple was situated about 1km south of the existing present day temple and at that spot Lord Parasurama witnessed 'Parasakthi' Devi  and worshiped her with 1000pots of liquor and sacrificed several fowl birds to
propitiate her and consecrated in to the present temple place.He informed the difficulties to worship her every day as he worshiped on that day and Devi asked him to worship her on the Meena Bharani day only in this



regard is the belief.And Lord Parasurama ordered the people to celebrate Meena Bharani day in an elaborate
manner.The rituals followed in this temple differ than other temples traditionally.
There is a sanctum which is made up of stone and closed all sides except a door which is also closed from inside is a mystery here.Some says that inside that cellar is 'Mahameru Sree Chakram' consecrated by Lord
Sankaracharya.
In the Sree Kurumba Bhagavathi Temple the main Idol is of Lord Shiva which is consecrated facing east.
"Mandapam' Sacrificial stone  known as Balikallu, temple kitchen known as 'Thidapally' etc are associated with that but the sacred bull idol is not seen there and also flag staff is also not existed.
The Sanctum which was faced to Western side for Devi is existing in a closed state at present.It is but still
considered  as the 'Moola Sthanam' (Origin) and some rituals are performed in the morning to evoke the Devi and  at night before closing the temple.
The devotees visit the sanctum which faces towards north and Bhadrakali  Devi's idol in a sitting posture
is existed there.It is depicted in a fierce state and the idol is made up of  a particular wood and covered with
gold plates.It is having eight hands holding different kinds of weapons.She is adorned with ornaments of
different varieties.On her left ear she wears an elephant and on her right ear it is a lion.Her right leg is in a folded state.Different kinds of gold chains are adorned to the Deity.
Sub Deities of this temple includes Ganapathi,Kshetra Palakan,Veera Bhadran,Thavidu Muthi,Saptha Mathakkal(Brahmi,Maheswari,Vaishanavi,Kaumari,Indrani,Varahi,Chamundi),Khandakarnan,Vasurimala etc.
During the Meena Bharani festival period there are  several rituals held here like Paana,Kuruthi,Kalam Pattu,Kalamezhuthu,Thalappoli,Chuttuvilakku,Kozhikallu moodal,Kavu theendal,Bharani pattu etc which some of   them are not common else where.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kottankulangara Chamaya Vilakku

Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku is  obviously a unique spectacular event which is a festival ritual done every year at Sreedevi Temple,Kottankulangara,Chavara, in Kollam(Quilon) District of Kerala.This ritual is held for
two consecutive days on,Malayalam Calendar days Meenam 10 and 11 every year which usually falls around March 25.
Kottankulangara Temple is situated at Chavara which is 13 km from Kollam.The temple deity is of Bhagavathy
and it is believed that  the idol is 'Swayambhoo' which means it is self manifested.There is no roof made for
the Sanctum Sanctorum.
In the Malayalam Month of Meenam the temple festival starts from the first day itself  and on the 10th and 11th
days at night men participates in a procession dressed up as females holding traditional temple lamp for these
two days is known as Kottankulangara Chamaya Vilakku.
The traditional temple lamp is made  fitted on a long wooden log  and it is having provision for five oil wick lamps.It
will be lighted and the participants will hold it standing in either of the two long rows in which thousands of
men will be participating dressed up as beautiful damsels and such a delightful spectacular event can not be
witnessed anywhere else in the world.
The men who participates in the Chamaya Vilakku festival do so with full devotion and for this they have to
practice certain observances from the previous month 'Kumbham' itself.Men perform this offering to get the
blessing of the Devi to get  fulfill their desires such as to get a job,get promotions,getting visa to go abroad,
to get a bright future,to get relieve of diseases and so on.The devotees say that the Devi fulfills the rightful desires
if approached her with full devotion.So the men who joins the Chamaya Vilakku ritual performs the observances for several days and participate seriously for getting the blessings from the Devi.There is another
belief such that teasing of the participants is not fair and so the spectators also will not dare to tease them
but view this wonderful special event with enthusiasm.There will be tourists in large numbers from other places




of  Kerala ,other parts of India  and from abroad also to watch this colorful event.
The men uses different types of attire to dress up to change themselves as women.Some may use Sarees,Some
wear Churidar,Some prefer Set and Mundu which is traditional dress of Kerala,some dress like the costumes  that was of
Nineteenth century,some wear dance costumes, and the choice is up to them.Professional make up artists
will be available in plenty on those two days at 'Chavara' and the men will do the make up in the temple
premises or in the compound of the natives who  offers any help to the devotees.
The traditional lamps are available for rent from the shops near the temple and so the men who wish to
participate can go there with the necessary female dress only.Other requisites are available locally.
On the two days of Chamaya Vilakku at night there are certain other rituals like offering of vegetables and
fruits etc to the Devi in the temple  known as 'Anpoli Parayideel' and after midnight only the procession starts.There are usually two rows
in which thousands of men will line up holding the lighted lamps and in their make up and different kinds
of colorful attire  they will be looking very beautiful.Some men when dressed up in women costume will
excel marvelously gorgeous  than real females.
There is a story behind this ritual.It is said that some cowherd boys in the past used to offer 'Koottan' which
is coconut dish to a particular stone as part of their play during their work  and offered flowers also to that stone..They were doing so dressed in female costumes just for fun.One day Devi appeared before one of the boys and blessed him
to fulfill his desires.It was disclosed to  his friends and others and eventually  a temple was constructed at the place where the boys
performed their offerings to the stone daily.
Earlier in the Chamaya Vilakku boys up to 15 years were participated but later on men of all ages joined and every year the number is increasing.
Transport Facilities
Kottankulangara Sreedevi Temple is only 13 km from Kollam City.Train and Bus to all parts of Kerala
are available from Kollam.Trivandrum International Airport is only one and a half hours drive from Kollam.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Malayalapuzha Devi Temple

The temple Deity of Malayalapuzha temple is lovingly called as 'Malayalapuzha Amma'.(Malayalapuzha Mother).In this Globally renowned temple every day thousands of devotees are visiting to get the blessings
of Devi.Bhadra Kali Devi in her fierce state is consecrated in this temple.Even though the deity is in her
fierce state she is as a loving mother to the ingenuous flock of devotees and only the cruel, wicked type people
 need to be scared about her.
In this temple the 'Kaula' Tantric method was followed earlier and animal sacrifices were done in olden days.
Now animal sacrifices are not performed but some rituals like flying fowl birds,'Chavirakku'-a ritual by which
 spirits of dead are removed, 'raktha pushpanjali'(floral worship using red color flowers) etc are being done.
Malayalapuzha Devi Temple is situated 6 km east of Pathanamthitta town.Pathanamthitta town is the District
Head Quarters of Pathanamthitta District.The Devi Temple is in the center of five hills namely Uppidampara mala,Pulipara mala,Cherukunnathu mala,Oottupara mala, and Achakanna mala.
The temple is medium size with a majestic 'Gopuram' in the east..The inner sanctum is square shaped. The visitors will feel devotion and fear also
when entered in to the temple compound . but when entered inside of the 'Nalambalam'  he/she will experience a wraping
feel of security and a soothing  mental peace is experienced  so that they will not get out of the 'Nalambalam' in a hurry.The devotees love
to stay there enjoying that  sacred divine  protective feeling for some  more time.Devotees  who are having so many
sorrows usually burst out and cry in front of the deity describing their complaints and surrendering to her.Those who are suffering from severe problems of any sort are all helped by Devi to solve them.For delaying the marriages of girls because of several reasons devotees approaches her.For growing hair thickly
and for forming breast milk for delivered women offering of 'Manchadi seeds (Adenanthera pavonina Linn) are offered to the deity.
There is a 'Siva Linga' idol in the temple which is believed to be self manifested and no sanctum is made for
it.A flower bearing 'Konna' tree provides shade to it all year round.Usually "Konna tree' which is 'Casia fistula' or 'Golden showering tree' bears flowers  for two months,March and April in Kerala.(This tree flower is Official flower of Kerala).In this temple 'Golden Showering tree'  which provides shade to 'Shiv Linga' idol flowers every day year round.If unction of several tender coconuts are done on that idol it will rain in any hot summer is  a  belief..Cobra snakes are seen lying round that 'Siva Linga' idol mostly.
Lord Shiva is also blessing the devotees for fulfilling their desires.Other sub deities  includes  Baby Ganapathy,Murukan,Sastha,



Yakshi,Nagam,Madaswamy etc.
To relieve the problems  caused by enemies by black-majic  or by any other evil methods, 'Raktha Pushpanjali' is
performed.The sweetened rice known as 'Chathussatham' is done by the devotees for getting prosperity.For
prophylactic purposes and for physical  well being fowl bird is brought and set free in the temple compound is a ritual followed here.
There is another ritual known as 'Malayalapuzha Thoopu' which is performed mostly by farmers.They
will display an item which is supplied from the temple in their farm by which nobody will dare to steal
anything from that farm.There are several other offerings in the temple like 'Thoniyari Payasam (Sweet rice made as per the traditional method by which several ingredients are used),Ney Vilakku(Lighting ghee lamp),Nirapara(Offering of giving rice,Paddy,sugar etc in a measuring vessel known as 'para' in full measures)  etc.
The deity in this temple is an idol which is having a height of five and a half feet.It is composed of so many
materials and the method by which it is made up is known as 'Kadu Sarkara Yogam'.Several types of wood pieces several  Ayurvedic herbs,Milk,Ghee, Jaggery,Turmeric,Sandalwood,Camphor,Gold,Silver,Sand,Natural glue
etc are only some of the ingredients used to make it.All the parts like in the  human body are included in it.At the time of consecration the priests give it the power of energy by Tantric methods.
The temple opens every day at 4 'o clock in the morning and closes at noon 12.30.Re opens in the evening
at 5 P.M and closes at 8 P.M.
The annual festival starts on Thiruvathira star day in the Malayalam Month of Kumbham and Aarattu willbe on the Eleventh day.
Vinayaka Chathurthi,Navarathri,Sivarathri etc are celebrated in a grand manner.Tuesdays and Fridays
are more important than other days and there will be heavy rush on those days.
Transport facilities are abundantly available  and from Trivandrum to Pathanamthitta by National High way it is 106 km
and to Trivandrum International Air Port it is 113 km.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple

At Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple  the annual festival will be  ecstatic, gorgeous, majestic. In this temple the ten day annual festival starts on 'Chanthayam star' day and finishes on 'Thiruvathira star' day in the month of 'Kumbham' (Feb-Mar) every year.
Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple is one of the most important and sacred Shiva temples of Kerala which is situated near Main Central road of Ettumanoor in Kottayam District.
The deity God Shiva is lovingly called as 'Ettumanoorappan' by the devotees.It is fervently believed that he will
grant all the noble and rightful needs of the people who approaches him in full devotion.It is also famous that
he is a curer of any type of diseases also.One who surrenders to him with extreme devotion can get cure any ailments by his blessings is the belief.There is an ever glowing oil lamp in the temple in the entrance room 'Balickal pura' and the soot which deposits on its lid  if applied in the eyes will cure eye diseases of many types.The oil in that lamp is used as medicine to cure certain diseases also.
Ettumanoorappan is also believed to exorcise evil spirits from devotees for which they have to perform 'bhajanamirikkal' which is attending all the pooja rituals in the temple for two  or three weeks and they will take
a pledge touching the ever glowing lamp by which  the evil spirits depart the body of the devotee.
The deity in this temple was consecrated by a Saint known as 'Khara Maharshi' and it is believed that with
special powers he performed the consecration of three idols in three places at the same time.These temples
are Ettumanoor,Vaikom and Kaduthuruthi which are all in Kottayam District situated at equal distances and
sacred temples of Lord Shiva.
The temple deity of Ettumanoor is facing toward west while in most Shiva temples it will be towards east.
The ever glowing  oil lamp (Keda Vilakku) was established here in 1544 A.D. and till now it was  not put out.
There is a story regarding this lamp.A man brought that lamp and inquired whether it was needed at the temple for a price.The people present at the 'Balickal pura' told him that  people were offering lamps etc free to God and not
for a price.The seller pleaded to take that lamp and give him a nominal sum.The people there at the temple did
'Ezhara ponnana Darshanam'
not bother to buy that lamp.Suddenly a stranger from inside the temple came out dancing,  took hold of the
heavy lamp with one hand and hanged it on  a hook on the ceiling.Suddenly there was a thunderstorm and the people fledged in fear.When they came back after a few moments the lamp was there glowing with five wicks  in it and the seller and the dancer were not there.Devotees believes that the dancer was Lord Shiva itself.
On the 'Namaskara Mandapam' two statues of 'Nandi' the bull can be seen.One is stone made and other
is bronze made.Inside of the  'bronze bull'  paddy is filled which can be taken out  one each at a time if tried with a small stick through  a small hole on its side which will  help  cure ailments of the stomach.(Now a days taking paddy from it is not allowed).That bull
was  the  offering of an 'Ambalapuzha Maha Rajah' for curing his chronic stomach ache by Ettumanoorappan.
Karthika Thirunal Maharajah of Travancore submitted 'Ezhara Ponnana' in this temple which is displayed
Ezhara Ponnana
during the annual festival.Ezhara Ponnana are 7 golden elephant models of same size and a small one.There are several beliefs regarding this.Some historians say that Marthanda Varma Maharajah was  to offer them
in the temple for taking over those provinces and attached to Travancore as a Penalty.But he died before fulfilling that offering and so the next Maharajah performed it..Some says that during
the reign of Karthika Thirunal Maha Rajah Tipu Sultan was proceeding to Travancore and had reached near
the boundary of his Kingdom.Karthika Thirunal Maharajah  prayed to Ettumanoorappan for help.There started heavy floods in Periyar
river and several calamities happened to Tipu Sultan's  soldiers.Crossing the river and proceeding further was not practical for several days.At that stage war was  started by the British in Mysore and
Tipu Sultan had to retreat without attacking Travancore..The joyous ' Maharajah Karthika Thirunal'  submitted Ezhara Ponnana in the temple as a token of  gratitude towards the Lord.
These are elephant models carved out of wood and covered with thick gold plates.On the eighth day of
annual festival during the night rituals 'Ezhara Ponnana Darsanam' is performed.(Display)
Ettumanoorappan is revered in three forms daily.In the morning time he is considered as 'Ardhanareeswaran'
during noon time he is considered as 'Kiratha Moorthy' and in the evening he is revered as 'Samhara Rudran.Ganapathy,Sastha,Dakshina Moorthy,Bhagavathy etc are sub deities here.Near the 'Asthana Mandapam'  'Narasimha Moorthy' in his calm state is situated.
'Sivarathri' is also celebrated in a grand manner in this temple.The main offerings to the Deity includes
Ksheeradhara,Jaladhara,Rudrabhishekam,Sankabhishekam,Sahasra kalsam (These are unction with different materials such as water,milk,tender coconut etc),Pushabhishekam(Floral worship),Kadum Payasam,
Koottu payasam,Palpayasam etc(All are sweetened rice) and other sweet items like appam,aravana etc.Other offerings such as Adima,Thulabharam etc are also done.
The temple opens at 4A.M and closes at 11.30 A.M.In the evening opens at 5P.M and closes around 8P.M.




Ettumanoor is situated near to Kottayam  town and  the temple is on the side of M.C. Road.The distance
from Ettumanoor to Eranakulam is only 46 km.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chottanikkara Devi Temple

The etiquette and the adoration methods followed in Chottanikkara Devi Temple in Ernakulam District Kerala
differs from other temples of Kerala.This very famous ancient temple is dedicated to 'Adiparasakthi Devi'
and believes that the presence of  different forms of  Devi such as Saraswathi,Kali,Durga and Lakshmi are
present here.During morning time habiliments of Devi will be white in color supposing that the deity is Saraswathi then, during noon time it will be red and pooja rituals done for  'Devi Kali' and in the evening time
blue color habiliments are given to the deity and pooja rituals for Durga Devi is performed.The idol of Devi is self manifested and formed by stone variety 'Rudrakshasila' and along with that a small Vishnu idol in 'Krishna Sila(natural black stone) also exists.Therefore  the presence of 'Lakshmi Narayanan' or in other words Lakshmi and Narayanan are also here.Chottanikkara Devi is called and praised as 'Amme Narayana'.
It is believed that Vilwamangalam Swamiyar was given the Darshan(Vision) of Devi at this place in the form
of 'Aadi Parasakthi', the Goddess form with eighteen hands on a Makam Star day in the month of Kumbham.
The 'Chottanikkara Makam Thozhal' ritual is performed every year on that day and during that particular time in which Devi gave 'Darshan' to Swamiji.
The temple rituals of this temple was modified and arranged by Vilwamangalam Swamiyar and follows like that till today.
The  annual temple festival here starts on 'Rohini star day' in the month of 'Kumbham' and continues for nine
days till  'Uthram Star day' and apart from other temples on all days 'Aarattu' which is the ritualistic bath usually done on the last day of the festival is done here daily for nine days.A procession of Devi and other sub deities
in the temple are taken on elephants and carried to the open ground known as 'Poora parambu'. 





Devotees visit in large numbers to get the blessings and to enjoy the splendor display.
On the  Makam day after this display the Deities are taken back to the temple, poojas of noon are performed
and the Sanctums will be closed.But as an unusual cult the Sanctums will be reopened after 2'O Clock and special
reverence of the Devi and other Deities are allowed for further three hours and this is called 'Makam Thozhal'.
During that three hour duration thousands and thousands of female devotees from far and near visit the Chottanikkara Devi temple and do the offerings.Men are also allowed to enter but preference is given to women during that time.It is auspicious for women to visit and worship Goddess at that time for blessings
of well being of children and family life and also for good health and prosperity.Unmarried girls expecting marriage will be blessed to get a suitable bridegroom and for a happy married life.So every year for Chottanikkara Makam Thozhal large gathering of women folks participates.
On the following day 'Pooram  Star  Day' is considered auspicious for men and they visit to witness the procession
of Devi and other deities on caparisoned elephants to the 'Poora Parambu' and the display held there.
The 'Roudra Bhadra Kali Devi' of 'Keezhkavil' will be also taken out in procession on that day.

Transport Facilities
The temple can be easily accessed by Air, by train and by road.
From Cochin International Airport Chottanikkara Temple is only 38 km
From Ernakulam South Railway Station it is only 18 km