Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chengannur Mahadeva Temple

Chengannur Mahadeva Temple is one of the most sacred and Prime temple in Kerala which is situated in the heart of Chengannur Municipal Town of Alapuzha District and is only 1 km from Chengannur Railway Station and Bus Stand.
In this Shiva-Parvathy temple the principal deity is Lord Shiva but his consort Devi Parvathy is also having equal importance and hence many people refers to this temple as 'Chengannur Bhagavathy Temple'.
Both Lord Shiva and Goddess Devi Parvathy is consecrated in the same 'Sreekovil' (sanctum sanctorum), Lord Shiva  facing  East and Devi Parvathy facing West.
The temple is a 'Maha Kshetram'(temple having great importance) from olden days itself.During up to the 1960's only nine temples were having the 'Maha Kshetram' status under the administration of Travancore Devaswom Board including Chengannur Mahadevar Temple.Those are 'Vaikom Mahadeva Temple,Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple,Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple,Thiruvalla Sree Vallabha Swamy Temple,Kaviyoor Mahadeva Temple,Chengannur Mahadeva Temple,Kandiyoor Mahadeva Temple,Sreekanteswaram Temple Thiruvananthapuram,and Sabarimala Sree Ayyappaswamy Temple'.Later so many other temples were upgraded as 'Maha Kshetram' by Travancore Devaswom Board.
The legends regarding this temple are many.
When all the thirty three crores Gods,semi Gods and Asuras summoned at Mount Kailash for the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva with Devi Parvathy, Lord Shiva sent sage 'Agasthya' to the south to maintain the balance of the earth with out tilting because of the weight of the 'Devas'(Celestial Beings) assembled together in a place.Shiva was sure that sage with his tremendous power acquired through penance could do that task.Agasthya but was sad that he would miss the divine marriage ceremony.Lord Shiva assured him that the marriage ceremony would be performed  again at the place Agasthya  selects to maintain the balance.
Agasthya chose 'Chengannur' and  at the top of the 'Sonadri'(reddish hill or 'Chemkunnu' in Malayalam and Tamil) he positioned himself  during the marriage of Lord Shiva.
At Chengannur the soft rock (Chemkallu or Vettu Kallu in Malayalam) which is having slight reddish  color is in abundance and was famous as 'Sonadri' and Sonachalapuri in Sanskrit and 'Chenkundroor' in Tamil.In Tamil texts of Saints 'Alvars'(Azhvars), they call this place as 'Thiruchenkundroor.'( The place where reddish hill is existing).
After the marriage ceremony, Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathy reached Chengannur and as per  the agreement to Sage Agasthya the marriage ceremony was again performed  at Chengannur for Sage Agasthya to witness. .Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathy stayed there for 28 days.

 Later after several centuries once a woman while cutting grass from the grassy land of 'Sonadri' she sharpened her knife on a stone lying there.Blood oozed out of the stone and she got frightened.People arrived hearing about this miracle and the local ruler of Chengannur Province 'Vanjipuzha Chief' and 'Thazhamon Thantri' also arrived.It was confirmed that the stone as a 'Shiva Linga' and it was consecrated there.As per the records in the temple '36 Para'(one 'para' is approximately 12 litres) pure ghee was poured on the idol to stop the bleeding.The temple was constructed in due course.
To Commemorate this event every year on 1st day of Malayalam month 'Thulam' a ritual known as 'Neyyattu' is performed in which '36 Para' ghee is showered on the idol of Lord Shiva .This ghee is received  from the devotees and more than double of that quantity is brought by the devotees.
The architect who designed the temple  was the the  master sculptor 'Perumthachan'.Perumthachan felt jealous about the prosperity of the large number of Brahmin  families at chengannur  in those period and purposely did certain works not according to 'Vasthu Sasthram' which resulted in the decline of large number of  'Brahmin families' is a belief.These are all  described in the book 'Aithihyamala'(Legends of Kerala) written by Kottarathil Sankunni.
Two centuries back the 'Koothambalam' which was made by Perumthachan and which had some special features was destroyed completely in a fire.The large elevated  stone basement in an oval shape is still there in front of the temple.

The peculiar phenomenon of Chengannur temple is that Devi Parvathy of this temple is having menstrual periods like any other living females.This happens seven or eight times in an year.When the blood spots are seen on the 'Udayada'(Devi's dress), the dress will be send to 'Thazhamon Thantri's Illam' which is in Chengannur itself and they confirms it as 'Thiruputh'( this is called in this way here) and the Sanctum will be closed.For the next two days, Pooja rituals will be performed on the idol used for procession and blood stains will be seen on the robes of Devi then also.After three days that idol will be taken to River Pamba which is nearby and purification bath is performed.This ritual is known here as 'Thripootharattu'.This 'Arattu' ceremony and the colorful  procession of the Devi coming back from the bathing ghat on an  elephant accompanied by other caparisoned elephants  with music of Nagaswaram,drumbeats of Chenda,Panchavadyam etc will be witnessed by thousands of devotees.Large number of women devotees will accompany the procession with 'Thalappoli'( holding a lighted oil lamp placed in a flower decorated plate) which is considered auspicious and  believes will rectify  menstrual problems of women.
The Sub -deities of this temple includes 'Lord Ganapathi,Lord Ayyappa,Chandeeswaran,Ganga Bhagavathy,Neelagrivan,and outside the temple compound separate shrine for Sree Krishna also is there.
Offerings includes 'Dhara,Abhishekam,Purakil Vilakku,Muzhukappu,Pushpanjali,Koovala mala,Ganapathi Homam,Bhagavathi Seva,Mrityunjaya Homam,Mrityunjarchana,Swayamvararchana,Aravana Payasam,Kadum Payasam, Udayasthamana Pooja and many more.
Usual offering like 'Archana' if performed by a devotee it has to be done for both Mahadeva and Parvathy Devi.Pushpanjali is a favorite 'Vazhipadu'(offering) for Parvathi Devi.
'Swayamvararchana' is done for Devi Parvathy in this temple to resolve the  problems caused by 
'Chowwa Dosham' which is an astrological problem causing delay and obstacles for getting married.This can be done once in every month on full moon day(Pournami) in the devotee's name.If the expenses given to the Administrative Officer of the temple and receipt made in this regard in advance , the 'Vazhipadu' will be done at the temple as proposed by the devotee even  if they could not attend it there every month.The charges for one year(for performing it once in a month) can also be given.It is believed that marriage delay of both boys and girls will be removed by Devi.For more details in this regard please contact  the Chief Priest of the temple at Devi's Shrine  and or  the  Administrative Officer,Chengannur Mahadeva Temple for guidance and proper suggestions.
For already married couples also if the bride or bridegroom is having Chowwa Dosham their  problems if any  can be relieved by performing appropriate  'Vazhipad' for the Devi once in every month for an year or more as suggested by the priest of the temple.For unity between husband and wife also vazhipad for the Devi may be benevolent.
The 'Darsan' time of this temple is from 3.50 early morning to 11.30 A.M. and in the evening 5.00P.M to 8.P.M.

While in most of the temples in Kerala the annual festival is for 10 days, at Chengannur Mahadeva Temple Annual Festival is celebrated for 28 days( One Lunar Month).The flag hoisting will be on Thiruvathira Star Day in the Malayalam month 'Dhanu' and Arattu Ceremony will be next month  on 'Thiruvathira Star Day in the month of 'Makaram'.This is the only temple in Kerala where 28 days annual festival is celebrated in a stretch.
Shiva Rathri,Chithra Pournami,Navarathri,Mandala Makara Vilakku etc are also well celebrated.
Devotees from Karunagapally arrives in groups on Shivarathri festival day in this temple and they organize the celebration on that day according to another legend.
The legends and   other details of the temple are elaborately  described in books 
'Aithihyamala' by Kottarathil Sankunni and in another book 'Chengannur Mahatmyam' written by Kalloor Narayana Pillai which was published several decades ago by Travancore Devaswom Board.This book is still available in book stalls of Travancore Devaswom Board.  

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