Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Aluva Mahadeva Temple

Aluva Town situated 21 km from Ernakulam is well known from very ancient times for the  Sivarathri Festival held here at the Aluva Mahadeva Temple  in a most devout as well as splendid manner in which millions of devotees participates.For the celebration of Sivarathri people gathers on the sand banks of Periyar river in the abode of Lord Shiva existing here.The highly revered Lord Shiva at Aluva is not having a proper temple and it is a unique phenomenon here.Lord Shiva of Aluva temple does not like to have a big temple constructed for him  which is also revealed by Astrological findings (Deva Prasnam).The Mahadeva temple at Aluva is owned and managed by Travancore Devaswom Board and is situated at the sand banks (Aluva Manalpuram) of Periyar River in the heart of Aluva town.
River Periyar is also one of the most sacred Rivers of Kerala like River Pampa and River Bharathapuzha.
River Periyar which is the longest river in Kerala is also known as River 'Poorna'.
On the banks of this river is Kalady, the birth place of 'Jagadguru Aadi Shankaracharya'  where an Ashram and temple is situated and is an International pilgrim center.It is only about 20 km from Aluva.
Malayattoor which is close to Kalady is well known for the 'Malayattoor Church' which is one of the most famous Pilgrim Center in Kerala is also on the banks of Periyar River.
Aluva Advaitashram establsihed by Sri Narayana Guru Swamikal is  also very famous.
River Periyar (Poorna) splits into two at Aluva and one part is known as Mangalapuzha and the other as Periyar itself.The sand bank in between the two rivers is called as Aluva Manalpuram and the Aluva Mahadeva temple is situated here.During monsoons the river gets  flooded and the temple will be submerged in the water.There is only one time Pooja rituals held here and 'Naivedyam' is offered to the deity in 'Kavungin Paala'(areca sheath) as per the tradition.
The legend is that the idol which is the 'Shiva Linga' is Swayambhoo (self manifested) and was installed by Lord Parasurama.Later the idol was detected by Vilwamangalam Swamiyar who assembled some dignified local people and performed initial Pooja ritual.Since no vessel was in handy to provide 'naivedyam' he offered it in  a 'Kavungin Paala' which is followed as a practice till today.'Athazha Pooja (night time ) is held here for three months  from Malayalam month Makaram 1 to Medam 1.
Aluva Mahadeva temple is famous for the 'Bali Tharpanam' performed for the departed souls of the family by the relatives.People perform 'Bali' here on Sivarathri,Thulam Vavu, and Karkidaka Vavu days.It is believed that Lord Shri Rama performed 'Bali' for 'Jatayu' here.
Sivarathri is a mega event in this temple for which people throngs from far and near. On  the 'Manalpuram' from many days prior to Sivarathri sheds will be erected for merchandisers who displays all kinds of materials for sale.Different types of amusement and entertainment activities will be available and staged.On the Sivarathri day there will be huge congregation of devotees and many of them stays on the 'manalpuram' during the night some chanting prayers, reciting puranas etc while some will be engaged in the entertainment activities available there to keep themselves awake.
From the early morning they take a dip in the river and pay homage to their ancestors by performing 'Bali Tharpanam' on the banks for which large number of 'Bali thara' will be arranged by the Travancore Devaswom Board for the convenience of the pilgrims.
Large number of people gather here for Bali Tharpanam for the 'Thulam Vavu' (Oct-Nov) and Karkidaka Vavu (July-Aug) every year which are also auspicious days to perform this ritual.
Dhara and Abhishekam are the main offerings of this temple.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple

Varkala Janardhana Swamy temple is an ancient Maha Vishnu Temple which is situated at Varkala 2 km from Varkala Railway Station and close to the sea on the top of an elevated land.The beach adjacent to the temple is known as Papanasam Beach and famous for the 'Pithru Karmam', 'Karkadaka Vavu Bali','Pitru Tharpanam', etc which the Hindus perform for the salvation for the departed souls  and or as a tribute to them.In this temple 'Thila Homam' in the dead person's name can be get performed by the priests of the temple  which would give peace and salvation for the soul is the belief.Usually in other temples except a few like Thirunelli temple  and Thiruvallam temple such rituals are not done for dead person's salvation.By performing these rituals in such temples even the sins performed by them when lived here on the  earth  would be excused is the belief.
Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple was established by celestial beings 'Devas' and believed to be more than 5000 years old.The present structure is of 12th century A.D., and was constructed by a 'Pandian King'.The temple was renovated during the reign of 'Umayamma Rani'.Varkala is also known from olden periods as 'Janardhanapuram'.The temple is also referred as 'Dakshina Kasi'.(Dakshina Kasi is referred to several temples in Kerala).
The cause of the erection of this temple itself was to remove the sins of a few Devas.The foundation legend is as follows.Once as usual Sage Narada visited Lord Maha Vishnu at 'Vaikunda', his celestial abode  and returned happily after some time.Narada always chant Lord Vishnu's names and sing in his praise using the divine musical instrument 'Veena' which he carries always.When Narada was traversing in the skies Lord Vishnu followed him invisibly enraptured in his divine music which even Narada did not notice.On the way 'Brahma Deva' was coming along with a few Devas and when Brahma Deva saw Lord Vishnu along with Narada he bowed down in salutation to Vishnu.The group of Devas could not see Vishnu standing behind Narada and misunderstood that Brahma Deva prostrated before his own son Narada and laughed teasing at Brahma Deva.In his anger Brahma Deva cursed those Devas to take the form of humans and suffer for a certain period on earth.When the Devas realized their mistake they repented and pleaded guilty requesting to relieve from the sin and curse.Brahma Deva instructed them to perform 'thapas' (penance) at a place on earth  which would be suggested by Narada and worship Lord Vishnu and their sins would be relieved.
Narada threw his upper garment 'Valkalam' towards earth which fell at 'Varkala' and the spot where Sage Narada's shoulder garment fell became the place name 'Valkalam' which in course of time became 'Varkala'.The Devas constructed a temple where the 'Valkalam' fell and as per Narada's request Lord Vishnu  with his 'Sudarshana Chakra' made the temple pond bringing the Ganga waters in it is the belief.The temple pond here is known as 'Chakra Theertham'.
The belief is that Brahma Deva consecrated Maha Vishnu idol in this temple and performed the first pooja ritual.The Devas performed worship to him for a certain period as redemption and got deliverance from their sins.They went  back after gaining liberation happily.The temple became a boon to the people which  helped to remove the sins of the living and the dead alike.
However due to unknown causes  the temple became dilapidated in the 12th century and even the idol got immersed in the sea near the coast.A Pandian King suffering from an ailment which was not curable by medicines was on a pilgrimage during that period  and reached Varkala also.When he found the ruins of the temple he took an oath praying to Lord Vishnu that he would reconstruct the temple if his disease would be cured.On that night the King had a dream in which Lord Vishnu told him that his idol could be found near to  the coast in the sea where he could find some flowers floating on  the next day.Lord Vishnu told him in the dream to regain the idol and to consecrate it at the same spot of the ruins of the  temple  and proceed as he vowed.The King recovered the idol, repaired one of it's left hand with gold and consecrated it.He constructed the temple.Needless to say that his ailments were cured by the Lord.Devotees believe that by worshiping Varkala Janardhana Swamy some chronic disorders would be cured by the deity.
There is mention in Maha Bhagavatham about this temple that 'Lord Balarama' the elder brother of 'Lord Sree Krishna' visited this temple  during his pilgrimage to several temples during Mahabharatha war.He visited many South Indian temples including Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari Devi Temple etc including Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple.
For offering obeisances to the departed souls and forefathers large crowd assemble at 'Papanasam' beach' close to the temple on Karkadaka Vavu and other auspicious days in this regard.Thila Homam can be performed on all days.More details regarding the rituals which can be performed in this temple for the departed souls can be known from the temple authorities.
The sub-deities of this temple are Lord Ganapathy,Lord Shiva,Chandikeswaran,Hanuman Swamy,Lord Sastha,Anantha(Naga Devatas), etc.
The sanctum sanctorum is round in shape and copper sheet roofed.The temple architecture is Kerala style and is very beautiful.There is golden flag staff in the temple.The annual festival lasts for ten days and is celebrated in the Malayalam month Meenam (March 15-April 15).
There are two bells tied in the temple premises which was donated by the Captain of a Dutch vessel which got grounded near the place and was relieved from the stuck when the Captain along with some other sailors prayed in this temple.The Captain donated the bells here in gratitude.
The deity is having four hands and is in standing posture on a lotus and about six feet tall including the lotus pedestal.Janarhana Swamy is along with Bhoomi Devi and Sree Devi."Mukhacharthu,Muzhukkappu,Archana,Paal Payasam" and all the usual offerings in Vishnu temples are performed here.
There are images of Hanuman Swamy and Garudan Swamy on either sides of the main entrance of the sanctum.
One has to climb a flight of several steps to enter into this peaceful, divine sacred place which soothes the mind and the soul.
The timings are morning 4 to 12 and evening 5 to 8.
The distance from Thiruvananthapuram to Varkala is 25 km and can be reached by road and rail.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda Temple

Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda Temple is an ancient important and sacred Vishnu Temple situated at Thirunavaya Village of Tirur Taluk, in Malappuram District in Kerala on the banks of 'Bharathapuzha' river.Bharathapuzha River is also known as 'Perar' and 'Nila'.Bharathapuzha is mentioned in the holy Hindu text 'Bhagavatham' as 'Pratheechi'.Opposite to this temple on the other shore of the river is existed an ancient Shiva temple and Brahma temple and thus this place is one which is blessed by the three Trinity Gods 'Brahma,Vishnu and Maheswara'.
Nava Mukundan Temple is one among the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu in India which is also known as 'Divya Desam' which is one  of the 'Thirupathis'.There are only 11 Divya Desam temples in Kerala which are:-

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Sree Vallabha Swamy Temple,Thiruvalla
Thrichittattu  Mahavishnu Temple, Chengannur
Puliyoor Mahavishnu Temple, Chengannur
Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple, Chengannur
Sri Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula
Thrikkodithanam Mahavishnu Temple, Changanacherry
Thrikkakkara Vamana Moorthy  Temple,Thrikkakkara
Thirumittakode Anchumoothy Mangalam temple 
Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Perumal Temple
Thirunavaya Nava Mukundan Temple

Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda temple is more than 5000 years old and was consecrated by the Sages 'Nava Yogis' of Ayodhya who were nine brothers.When they selected this sacred place for the installation of Mahavishnu's idol the eldest 'Yogi' brought a 'Salagramam idol' but it got immersed in the soil.The second Yogi tried with another idol which also got immersed and this happened for the eighth brother also.The youngest but succeeded in his attempt to consecrate the image and installed it as Mukundan and prayed to Lord Vishnu to be present there always and bless the devotees, to forgive the sins of the devotees and to give salvation for the souls.
All the nine Nava Yogis assembled here afterwards and performed a 'Yagna' to propitiate the deity.
Lord Parasurama performed 'Pithru Karmam' which is oblation for the departed souls near the bank of the river close to this temple for the salvation of the departed souls of the 'Kshatriyas' which he killed, prayed to the Lord Mahavishnu to forgive his sins after taking bath in the holy river there.
Aadi Sankaracharya visited this temple and held 'Pithru Karmam' at the ghats of the river close to this temple  for the salvation of his father 'Jamadagni Maharshi'.
A dip in the bathing ghats of this temple in the Bharathapuzha and praying at the temple of Nava Mukundan will wash off the sins of the devotees.When the 'Bali Tharpanam' (Oblations) are performed at the ghats of this temple the departed souls will get salvation.People perform 'Pithru Karmam' at the banks of the river here on 11th day or 16th day after death, the oblations known as 'Sradham' for the anniversary etc.The oblations(Bali) done for all the departed souls in the family is usually done on the No moon day(Amavasi) of Malayalam month Karkidakam' which is known as 'Karkidaka Vavu' and  considered as very auspicious. 'Bali Tharpanam' is also done on 'no moon day' of Malayalam months 'Thulam, Kumbham and  Edavam'  which are meant  for all the departed souls in the family.
Even though this is a Mahavishnu temple, the devotees revere him as Lord Krishna as like at Guruvayoor temple.One of the favorite offering of the deity is garlands of lotus flower.There is a large lotus pond behind the temple which was constructed and offered to the temple by a Maharajah of Travancore from which sufficient lotus flowers are plucked for the use in this temple and also supplied to nearby major  temples like Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Swamy  temple.

There is a belief that the famous story of 'Gajendra Moksham' happened at this place.
Thirunavaya was famous all over India for the 'Veda Schools' functioned here which gave training for performing  Tantric rites and gave deep knowledge in Hindu texts like Vedas.Thirunavaya was once the capital of 'Perumpadappu Swaroopam' and was considered as the cradle of culture in Northern Kerala.

At Thirunavaya the famous 'Mamankam' festival was also held in which the selection of 'Perumal' who would become Emperor of Kerala for a period of 12 years used to take place once in twelve years.It was a splendid assembly of all the Kings and Chieftains of the small Kingdoms and provinces in Kerala and a trade fair conducted for 28 days during which cultural activities, display of martial arts etc were also held.The selection of the 'Perumal' was the main agenda. 
At Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda Temple the annual temple festival is for ten days and the flag hoisting will be around 8 pm the day before 'Vishu'(Vishu Sankramam).The morning after flag hoisting will be Malayalam month 'Medam 1st which is 'Vishu'.To get a glance of the deity at this temple in the early hours of 'Vishu' is considered very auspicious by the devotees.Nava Mukundan will forgive all the sins and bless the devotees for their betterment in all ways  is the belief.There will be heavy rush on the Vishu day.
The other important festivals are 'Nava Mukunda Ekadasi' celebrated in the month of Kumbham,Ashtami Rohini,Navarathri and so on.
When Perunthachan, the master Carpenter and Sculptor of Kerala   renovated this temple he made adjustments such that on 'Vishu day' the rays of the  Sun falls on the deity.In most of the temples they are constructed in such a way that the Sun's rays will not fall on the idol.Here it will fall on the idol on Vishu day and on another day in an year.
The sub deities in this temple are 'Aadi Ganesha' and Sree Mahalakshmi Devi.
The main offerings includes 'Paal Payasam,Lotus garlands,Ney Vilakku,Muzhukappu,Archana' and so on.All devotees visiting the temple is provided free food in the temple every day round the year which is known as 'Prasadam Oottu' (Annadanam) and devotees can donate for this cause as a 'Vazhupadu' (offering) also.
The temple is located 12 km south of Tirur town and buses and taxis are available from Tirur.'Ponnani town' is also nearby.