Sunday, June 24, 2012

NAGERCOIL NAGARAJA TEMPLE

Nagercoil Nagaraja temple is an ancient Snake temple which is situated at Nagercoil, in the heart of the town.This temple and place  is now situated  in Tamil Nadu State, which  was under the rule of Travancore Maharajah till the formation of Kerala State in 1956.The pooja rituals followed in this temple is Kerala style now also even though the temple administration is by Tamil Nadu Devaswom Board.The 'Chief Priest'(Thantri) of this temple is from 'Pambumekkatu Mana'
of 'Mala, Trissur,Kerala'.
It is difficult to trace out when was this temple established but it is believed that a Nampoothiri 
Priest who was the elder member  of 'Pambumekkatt Mana' consecrated the deity of this temple.
The story regarding the vision of 'Vasuki' the Serpent God  by  the 'Nampoothiri' who was the  head of the family of Pambumekkat Mana and consecration of Nagaraja at their residence   was spread every where and also









it was known to the public  that skin ailments and diseases caused by 'sarpadosham'(Problems caused due
to the curses of snakes) would be cured by the Nampoothiri.
During that period one Pandya King (Believed the  King of Kalakkadi) was suffering from Leprosy and he sought help of Pambumekkattu Nampoothiri.Nampoothiri  went to the Palace and stayed there for some days and by the powers bestowed on him with   the blessings of Nagaraja he cured the disease of the King.
While he was returning back to Kerala,  when the Nampoothiri and his aides of 5 men reached the place
where Nagercoil temple is now  existing,   he heard the loud cry of a woman who was cutting
grass from that place.That part of the land was uninhabited and  was like a forest with wild trees,bushes and grass grown everywhere.When Nampoothiri and his men  approached  the 
woman to find the cause of her being  panic it was understood that her sickle had  made a cut into 
the  head part of a five headed serpent idol lying there.Blood was oozing out of the idol so that she was frightened.  Nampoothiri
was confirmed that the five headed serpent idol was of  Nagaraja and possessed extreme powers.He summoned the people residing  nearby and consecrated the idol at the same place where it was found.People
cleared off the trees and bushes in that area  and they started to worship the deity.A temporary shed
was made as the temple and roof was of coconut leaves and of bamboo sticks.Nampoothiri 
afterwards made a new Sanctum sanctorum near to it for  consecrating the deity from the existing marshy land to the newly made building.On the day before the consecration, Nampoothiri had a vision of Nagaraja in his dream  and he told that the idol  should not be moved from 
the existed place and that he did not need a new sanctum but the existed one  to be continued in the same manner.
In the newly constructed Sanctum sanctorum Lord Shiva and Vishnu was consecrated.
Every year in the Malayalam month of 'Karkadakam' the roof of the sanctum sanctorum
is newly thatched with coconut leaves and bamboo sticks.The walls are of mud there.
                                                         The place name became Nagercoil when the name and fame 
of the temple was widely spread very soon.Devotees from far and near throng in very large numbers so that the place also developed as a town.This place name  was known as 'Kottar' earlier.A small portion of the corner  place is still known as Kottar.
The Thantric rites vested with Pambinmekkattu Mana was later handed over by them to Thiruvalla Parambur Illam.From
there on several problems aroused at the Pambinmekkattu Mana and they understood that
it was due to the anger  of Nagercoil Nagaraja  deity.They again took back the Thanthric rites but
received it for alternative years only.The system such as one year for Thiruvalla Illam and next year for Pambumekkattu Illam is followed at present.
The Main temple priests in this temple are also from Kerala since Kerala style pooja rituals are
followed here.
The sand from the ground of the sanctum sanctorum of the Nagaraja is distributed as 'Prasadam' to the devotees.The soil there is  red in  color and said that it happened by the blood shed of the deity when it got injured by the sickle.Daily a large mass of soil is required to distribute to the devotees but the amazing fact is that the amount of soil scooped out will
be  back in position the next day.The amount of soil is not diminishing year after year and
for centuries.The soil which is received as 'Prasadam'  is having medicinal properties and  used to cure skin ailments of the devotees .Another stunning fact is that there are several cobras in and around the temple
premises but no one is harmed or bite by snakes there.In the nearby area of the temple 
also no snake bite had been reported in the past.
Nagercoil  Nagaraja is believed by devotees as a deity who redeem the misery of childless
couples.By worshiping the deity here several childless couples are blessed to have children.
He is also a deity who grants prosperity and good health to the devotees.
There are several snake idols and a Ganapathy idol placed on the basement of a peepul tree in the temple compound  
and it is auspicious to circumambulate those idols( that peepul tree) to get remove our 'sarpadosham' , sins due to the harm 
done to the snakes previously,Curses of snakes  etc.
Offering  small images of serpents made of  silver to be placed in the temple,offering 'Noorum palum'(a pooja ritual)
etc can be done to get  relieve our sins and to get the bliss.Those who are suffering from the bad effects of 'Rahu' and 'Kethu' according to astrology will be relieved  by doing worship in this temple.
There were  some arguments that this  temple belonged to Jains previously but was taken
over by Hindus.
'Mahendragiri' near Kanyakumari is referred as the abode of Nagas in the Valmiki Ramayana.There is no epigraph to find the chronology of the temple.Images of Jain Theerthankaras 'Parsavanth and Mahavira' are carved on the pillars of 'arthamandapa' in this temple.The main gateway of this temple known as 'Mahamerumaligai' resembles 
Budhist monastery.Deities of Lord Shiva and Anathakrishna are enshrined here.It has
to be assumed that this temple is simply an embodiment of the four creeds Saivam,Vaishnavam,Jainism and Budhism and it is a very ancient 'Nagaraja Temple'.
Every year in the Malayalam month of 'Thulam'(Sep-Oct) 12 days special pooja will be done including 'Ayilyam Star day' by the Thantri of Pambimekkattu Illam.
Ayilyam star day  on every month is auspicious here and all Sundays are also auspicious.Annual festival is in the month of 'Makaram'  for 10 days and 'Arattu' will be on
'Ayilyam star day of Makaram'(Jan-Feb).Ratholsavam(pulling temple car) is an attraction during  the festival.
Transport Facilities
Trivandrum Int'l Airport is only 58 km away.From Trivandrum it is accessible by train,car 
bus etc.From Nagercoil,  bus services to all parts of Tamil Nadu are  available.Kanya Kumari is only 28 km from Nagercoil.




Thursday, June 21, 2012

VETTUCAUD CHURCH

"Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" the
galvanizing presence of  Jesus who give this promise has made Madre-de-Deus Church, Vettucaud the  refuge  of hundreds and thousands of pilgrims.
On the water border Trivandrum District in Kerala, on the shores washed by the Arabian Sea stands the Madre-de-Deus Church,Vettucaud.
It is situated 7 km from Trivandrum City, 5km from Trivandrum International Airport, 3 km from famous tourist attraction ' Sanghum Mukham Beach' of Trivandrum.



It is believed that the 'Madre-de-Deus Church at Vettucaud in Trivandrum was got established by St.Francis Xavier.
Earlier Priests from Goa used to  attend the spiritual needs of the community.
The Church was rebuilt in the year 1934 under the Latin Arch Diocese of Thiruvananthapuram.
The image of  'Christ the King' was gifted by Carmen Miranda of Vettucaud  in 1942  and was blessed and installed by  the then Bishop  of Cochin Rt.Rev.Jose Viera Alvernez on Oct 11, 1942.
From the very day of the installation believers began to have visions and experiences of the Divine presence.Many people mentally and physically afflicted were cured of their ailments.
The number of devotees visiting the shrine of 'Christ the King' increased gradually and now it has reached a never ending flow of pilgrims to Vettucaud.People belonging to all religions and faith come to this holy land to unburden their sins.
Worship at the feet of 'Christ the King' on every Friday is attended by many believers.
The income from the church is utilized for several social activities like for helping the poor
people for treatment of ailments, for the marriage expenses  of poor women,building houses for homeless,giving scholarships  for intelligent students etc.
The annual celebration of this Shrine is called as the 'Feast of Christ the King'.The feast is  celebrated for ten days culminating in the last Sunday of the liturgical Year.It is held in November and it will be ending on the third Sunday of November.
Various religious rites are carried out during the festival days.On the last Sunday of the feast the image of the Christ the King is taken out in a large colorful procession in which thousands of people participates.
This festival is regarded as the biggest Church festival in the District of Trivandrum.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

OACHIRA KALI

To commemorate a  medieval battle between the Principalities of Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha  at the 'padanilam' of Oachira temple is known as Oachira Kali.
The place Oachira is famous for the famous 'Oachira Parabrahma temple' situated  there.The interesting
fact is that this ancient temple has actually no idol or temple structure  but only a vast compound where
several Banyan trees are existing and the devotees worship the 'Parabrahma' who is
existing every where by  submitting their offerings  at the Banyan tree foundations and by
praying and meditating in the vast compound.
Lord 'Shiva' the supreme God is worshiped as 'Omkara Murthi' and 'Parabrahma Murthy' as one
who does not have a definite shape and the size which can not be  measured. He is the divine
eternity.
He is taken out in a procession  to the padanilam  on the day of 'Oachira kali' and the warriors
participates in the Oachira kali follows the procession.The 'padanilam' (Battle field) is near the temple and
the warriors participating in the Oachira Kali arrange themselves as two groups and starts the 
battle.Instead of swords and shields they use long sticks.The fight would be conducted in the
wet ground where water will be up to knee height.The participants during the mock fight




splashes water on  each other which adds the enthusiasm  for themselves  and for the enjoyment of the spectators.
The Oachira Kali is held every year on the 1 st and 2 nd of Malayalam month 'Mithunam' which
falls on the mid June.At the evening of the first day the participants take a pledge to continue
the fight next day and again on the next day morning it restarts.
The main  participants take 41 days vrat(observances) since this event has  connection  to the temple.
Some of the warriors who takes part in this Oachira Kali(this term literally means 'Oachira Play since
this is actually a Play only; a mockery fight just to display martial arts)  are well trained in 
'Kalari Payattu' which is the age old martial arts of Kerala.
The warriors who are well  trained in 'Kalaripayattu' utilize this occasion to display their skill and
flexibility which the viewers also enjoys.
Only Males participates in this play and even children can also do this mockery battle.
The play is conducted in the rhythm of drums.The drum beats are selected in such a manner
that it favors one group for advancement for a predetermined time and then it allows them
to retreat and the other group advances.Meanwhile the masters  of the art 'Kalaripayattu
display their skill awfully. 
At the end of the second day best and skillful warriors are given prizes.
After this two days 'Oachira Kali'  there at the premises  will be an  exhibition and sale of
Agricultural products, agricultural utensils and household articles of any kind for a week when old types of rare utensils can also be
seen and purchased.All kinds of agricultural products,spices etc which are all of best quality  can be purchased also.
Oachira is situated in Kollam District and  this temple is beside National Highway 47.
It is not far from Trivandrum and Trivandrum Int'l Air Port.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Achankovil Sree Dharma Sastha Temple

It is believed that Lord Parasurama established 108 Sastha(Ayyappa) temples in Kerala
and among them four temples are considered more important and much more sacred.They
are "Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, Achankovil,   and Sabarimala".The presiding
deities Dharma Sastha is existing  in different forms at  these temples.
At 'Kulathupuzha' Lord Ayyappa is worshiped as an young boy.At Aryankavu temple he is considered as a youth.At Achankovil  temple Lord Sastha/Ayyappa  is 'Grihasthasrami' means
he is a family head consecrated along with his  two consorts "poorna and Pushkala".At Sabarimala temple  he is considered as a Sage/Sanyasi.
In all these temples which were consecrated several centuries B.C. 
the idol of the presiding deity had to be changed in course of time because of damages etc including Sabarimala but at Achan  Kovil temple the original idol consecrated by Lord Parasurama is still existing. The deity  we are worshiping  there at Achankovil temple is the original idol thousands of years old. 
The idol of Lord Ayyappa at Achankovil differs from the other temples slightly that the deity is depicted as 
sitting one leg folded and placed on the floor and the other knee  in a raised form.'Pattabandha' as in Sabarimala is seen here also.The right palm of the deity is holding in bowl shaped and every day a ball of  sandalwood
paste is placed in that hand in the morning by the temple priest.This sandalwood paste will be
removed next day morning and then a new ball of sandalwood paste is placed in his hand.
A little of that sandalwood paste taken from his hand and mixed with 'theertham' (holy water)
of the temple  works as medicine for snake bite is a wonder.Thousands  of people were saved by
this method of treatment which is a  blessing by the God Ayyappa of this temple.When the victim of snake bites are
brought here the sandalwood paste mixed with holy water is given to drink to the victim  and a little of it
is applied at the wound of  the snakebite.The patient will be relieved without any other treatment
very soon.It is said that during the past  centuries countless  people were saved and
brought back to life by this method of treatment.During night time also if snake bite victims
are brought this treatment will be done at this temple.The temple which is situated in the 
thick forest  area has to do this treatment each and every year to several people.

According to Hindu belief the Planet Saturn has much effect on humans and bad effects known as 'Sani Dosham'( 'Sani Graham' which is planet Saturn influence us  badly , creating  harm in many ways)  will be removed or the power of its bad effects will be lessened by praying and worshiping at Achankovil Dharma Sastha  temple.Lord Sastha/Ayyappa is considered as the God governing planet Saturn.
The sub-deities of this temple are his aide 'Karuppu Swamy' and Durgadevi,Bhadra deities.

The plant creepers near the Sanctums of Bhadra and Durgadevi are seen tied with large number of cradle models.On the iron rods existing there are all placed black color bangles
by devotees.These are all submitted by devotees who were childless and  visited the temple after
getting a child with the blessing of Lord Ayyappa,Durgadevi and Bhadra of this temple.
This temple is in the eastern part of Kollam district at the border of Tamil Nadu.
This temple can be reached by Punalur-Kumaramkudy-Mullumala route  but the road is
not in good condition.
Punalur-Aryankavu-Chenkottai-Mekkara route is mostly selected which is through the thick forest and resembles Sabarimala journey.
The Manalur waterfalls and 'Kumbuvuritty waterfalls' are on the way only 8 km from the
temple.
There are Bus services from Punalur and Chenkottai to Achankovil Dharma Sastha  temple.





The annual festival of this temple is from Dhanu 1 (Dec-Jan)  for ten days.



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kottiyoor Mahadeva Temple

Dakshaprajapathi was the son of Brahmadeva who had several Children and  the youngest was
Sathi Devi.From the childhood itself Sathi Devi adorned, and loved Lord Shiva  which increased
day by day and when she attained a young woman she had no other desire other than to marry
Lord Shiva.Lord Shiva was knowing about her intention and Love and when he understood
that her love towards him was extremely truthful he accepted her in marriage.
In the beginning Daksha  was in good terms with Lord Shiva and but gradually Daksha started to hate him.Daksha behaved arrogantly which Lord Shiva could not tolerate and he stopped 
all contacts with his father-in-law.
Once Daksha reached 'Deva Lokam' (place of Semi Gods) where Lord Shiva was also present 
there at that time.When Daksha Prajapathi entered all the Semi Gods and other dignitaries present there stood up in respect as Lord Mahadeva's father-in-law.Lord Shiva did not stand
to show his respect which Daksha could not tolerate.He thought that Lord Shiva did not show
respect to soil him in front of the Semi Gods and wanted to revenge Lord Shiva for the shame.
                                Daksha arranged a Yagna to be conducted in an elaborate manner in which
delegates form all the fourteen worlds would attend except Lord Shiva.He invited all the
famous Kings,other eminent people,monks,semi Gods etc but did not invite Sathi Devi and Lord Shiva.
Sathi Devi wanted to attend the Yagna which was  being conducted in an exuberant manner.She pleaded Lord Shiva to give her consent to go for it but  he tried in vain to dissuade her.At last Lord Shiva allowed her to go but told her not to loose her temper and to expect
disrespect only at Daksha's place.
When Sathi Devi reached the Yagna Place everyone of the  invited dignitaries were present and the Yagna was proceeding in full swing.When she entered there Daksha started to tease her with
all kinds of nonsense and bad words to insult Lord Shiva.She tried to defend him by answering
in a lovely manner but she could not withstand  his  continued assaulted words for a long time.All the
eminent gathering were hearing Daksha's cruel speech and Sathi Devi felt quite ashamed.She
felt sad about his contempt  defiance towards Lord Shiva and was unable to tolerate his stupid words in that anguish she jumped in to the pyre of the Yagna and  committed suicide.
It is also believed that  utilizing  her mental power she burned herself to death  without jumping in to the pyre.
The belief is that the Daksha's Yagna place was at  'Kottiyoor' in Kerala which is a pilgrimage center of Kerala of Lord Shiva Temple.
The belief is that at the place where Sathi Devi disappeared,  later  Lord Shiva's presence felt as 





self originated Shiv Linga.
After several years  that place  was covered with forest and Lord Parasurama tried to
conduct a Yagna there.He started a function which would extend for twenty seven days.But
this could not be completed because  Monk Durvasavu who was suffering from a  curse entered that holy
place and the Yagna had to be stopped.Again that place was covered by forest until the
time of Sankaracharya who revived the place.
A tribal youth tried to sharpen his arrow on a stone  and to his astonishment he found that the stone   started to bleed and he informed about this to nearby 'Nampoothiri Brahmin' who on further astrological investigation revealed that it was Dakha's Yagna place and the stone found was Shiv Linga of self origin.
Sankaracharya was invited to this place for further pooja activites.
Kottiyoor Festival is extended for twenty eight days.'Neerezhunnallathu,Neyyattam,Bhandaram Ezhunenellathu,Ilam neerattam,Kalam Varavu,Kalasattam' are the seven sections for the festival.(These are all traditional rituals)
           The festival is initiated by a ritual known as 'Prakuzham' which starts on 'Chothi star day' of Medam Month.
There are two  'Kottiyoor'. "Akkare Kottiyoor  and Ikkare Kottiyoor" Entrance to the Akkare
Kottiyoor is limited during festival days only.There is no temple at Akkare kottiyoor.The
pooja rituals are performed by 'Sankalpam'(Assumption ).
The Pooja rituals are vivid and varied other than in many other temples during this period.
There are several functions which are special here.
The Ghee Unction is an important activity and the devotees who attend this ritual will be blessed by the God.
A temporary Sanctum is made at Akkare Kottiyoor for the festival which is removed and 
put in the river is the final function of the festival.
There are four types of 'Aaradhana' (a pooja  ritual) known as "Thiruvonam Aaradhana,Revathy Aaradhana,Ashtami Aaradhana and Rohini Aaradhana".This year's
Aaradhana festival starts today.
Kottiyoor is situated in Kannur District.Kottiyoor can be reached from Thalassery.It is
on the way to Thalassery-Mananthavadi road.