Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thiru Onam, Thrikkakara Temple and Birthday of Lord Vamana

Emperor Mahabali was a honest and generous ruler and this mighty King dethroned Lord Indra who ruled the celestial 'Deva Lokam'.Lord Indra's mother Adithi Devi became very sad and frustrated about this and sought the advice of her husband 'Kashyap Prajapathi' who was a Saint.He suggested her to propitiate Lord Vishnu by performing a penance 'Payovrat'.She performed the penance for the period as told by her husband sincerely with devout.Lord Vishnu appeared before her and assured her that he would help to regain the throne for Lord Indra.He said that he would be taking an incarnation as 'Vamana' for this purpose and would take birth as her son.
On one 'Thiruvonam' star day in the month of Chingam Lord Vamana was born to her and at the time of birth the baby had four arms like Lord Maha Vishnu.Immediately the child transformed to an  young dwarf with two hands.Many of the Gods and Goddesses gathered there at that time and offered gifts for the lad who assumed the form of a 'Sanyasi'.Kashyap Prajapathi offered him the waist chain, his mother gave him the Sanyasi attire,Drinking water vessel 'Kamandalu' was given by Lord Brahma Deva, 'Akshamala' used while chanting prayers was given by Saraswathi Devi.He also got gifts which are used by Sages such as a 'Chatram'( palm leaf umbrella) and a utensil   to receive alms.
He reached 'Thrikkakara' where Emperor Mahabali was performing a 'Yagna' at that time and Emperor Mahabali  received the young sanyasi as a honorable guest.As per the traditional custom Maharajah  washed the feet of the guest,gave him a seat and inquired  about his needs.The Sanyasi replied that he needed three feet of land to sit and meditate.Guru Sukracharya who was the adviser of the Maharajah warned Maharajah not to agree for that charity  because by his mental  powers he understood
that the guest was Maha Vishnu and the intention was not fair for the King.
Maharajah but consented the sage to measure his required land from that place itself.Suddenly the young dwarf Sanyasi grew up to the skies, measured Earth and heavens with two feet measure and there was no space left for the third one.The King bowed down to him and requested to put that step on his head.Lord Vishnu before sending the Maharajah to 'Patala' told him that he would be immortal for ever and in due course he could earn the throne of the heavens also.
Mahabali requested Lord Mahavishnu that his presence must be there at Thrikkakara for ever and he should be given consent to come to   Kerala once in an year during that period and see him at his temple at Thrikkakara.Lord Maha Vishnu agreed this request and it is believed that every year Mahabali visit Kerala and Lord Maha Vishnu at Thrikkakara Temple during this period and people celebrate Onam to greet their great King and also to celebrate  the birthday of Lord Vamana Murthy who is Maha Vishnu itself.
From available records it is estimated that the temple at Thrikkakara was established around 2500 B.C.In the olden days when Kerala was under 'Perumal'  reign Kerala was divided into 64 provinces and each province had it's own King.The supreme ruler would be the Emperor 'Perumal'.In that period the temple at Thrikkakara was a mighty temple complex with 28 shrines in the same complex and  had big temple towers etc.The festival was celebrated for 28 days commencing from Thiruvonam star day in the month of 'Karkidakam' to Thiruvonam star day in the month of Chingam.All the rulers of the 64 provinces arrived at Thrikkakara as per the order of the 'Perumal'.People from far and near of Thrikkakara also used to participate.The last ten days of the annual festival was celebrated in a grand gala  manner.'Pookkalam', a floral  arrangement with fresh flowers was done in the 'Mandapam' of the temple during those days. Sweets and feast were served for everyone at the temple complex during the festival days.
For those who could not attend the celebrations physically at Thrikkakara, it was  requested by the 'Perumal' to make a flower arrangement in front of their houses for ten days from 'Atham' star day to 'Thiruvonam' star day in the month of Chingam and also to make sand idols of 'Thrikkakara Appan' who is the deity of that temple in the 'Pookkalam'.Onam Celebration was initiated in this manner and also the Pookkalam arrangement at the homes.  Many people make sand idols of Thrikkakara Appan also called as 'Onathappan' and worship at the Pookkalam by offering a sweet item known as 'Poovada'.In all the temples of Kerala especially in  Lord Maha Vishnu termples 'Thiruvonam'
Star day in the month of Chingam is very auspicious and considered as the birth day of Maha Vishnu itself  because 'Vamana Murthy' took the incarnation on that day.
After the reign of the 'Perumals' the glory of Thrikkakara temple diminished.The Kings of the Provinces did not summon  for the festival of that temple.Later the temple complex suffered severe damages by invaders and was lying in a neglected and decadence condition.
The present temple structure was constructed by Travancore Maharajah 'Sree Moolam Thirunal'.The annual festival of Thrikkakara temple where the presiding deity is 'Vamana Murthy' (Lord Maha Vishnu) is in the month of Chingam and at present celebrated




 for 10 days from Atham Star day to Thiruvonam Star day.Pookkalam is arranged at the 'Mandapam' of this temple  during those ten days as per the tradition now a days also.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Athachamayam

Onam is the most important festival of Kerala which is celebrated by all Kerala people without the barrier of Caste,religion etc and will be celebrated in a grand manner by all sectors of the society.The festival lasts for two weeks which starts from 'Atham asterism' day to 'Uthrittathi asterism' day in the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug-Sept) every year.The most important day of celebration is known as 'Thiru Onam' and this year it will be on 28th August 2015.
Ten days prior to 'Thiruvonam asterism' day Onam celebration starts  practically which is from  'Atham star' day and this year it started  from yesterday 19th August 2015.On the Atham asterism day in the month of Chingam a colorful procession will be conducted at 'Thripunithura town' near Ernakulam which was the Headquarters  of the Cochin  Kingdom as well as the nearby place where the most important temple of  'Lord Vamana' exists.Lord Vamana, the incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu because of the request of the celestial beings 'Devas' sent the most loved ruler of Kerala 'Mahabali' to the underworld 'Patalam'.Mahabali was a noble mighty Asura King who acquired the throne of Indra of the heaven which caused the enmity of the celestial beings.Mahavishnu wanted to give back the throne to Lord Indra  as per the request of the celestial beings.Since Mahabali was a noble personality and a generous ruler and was punished without committing any sin  he was granted immortality and  given permission to come back to visit Kerala every year during 'Onam' period and he will come along with 'Lord Mahavishnu' is the Hindu belief.
Hindus start decorating a floral arrangement in front of their homes every day morning during this 10 days period from 'Atham Star' day  according to this belief to greet Lord Mahavishnu and King Mahabali. This floral arrangement in round shape is  known as 'Pookkalam'and will be made with fresh flowers every morning.Young girls in the family makes this Pookkalam in the early morning. 
On the 'Atham asterism' day as a proclamation of the commencement of  that year's Onam Celebration, a colorful procession is held at 'Thrippunithura' which is known as 'Athachamayam'.
This spectacular procession is conducted  every year and large number of people gather to watch it.In that procession there will be Caparisoned elephants,Playing of percussion instruments like Chenda,Panchavadyam etc,playing of musical instruments like Nagaswaram,Beautiful floats displaying various themes,dancers of Bharathanatyam,Mohiniyattam,Kuchupudi,Thiruvathira Kali etc,Kathakali,Theyyam,Padayani etc,Other folk dance forms like 'Karakattam,Mayilattam,Arjuna Nritham,Puli Kali,










Amman Kudam,Kavadiyattam' etc.
Almost all varieties of folk art forms of Kerala participates in the 'Athachamayam' procession which is well enjoyed by the spectators.
'Athachayam' was a traditional event used to be held from very olden period of the Maharajahs.The Kochi (Cochin) Maharajahs used to conduct a colorful march with ceremonial robes and accompaniment of military to 'Thrikkakara Vamana Temple' from Thrippunithura Palace  and was famous as 'Athachamayam'.The annual festival of Thrkkakara Vamana temple starts on the same 'Atham asterism' day and concludes after ten days  on 'Thiruvonam' day'.It is also believed that the place where  Thrikkakara temple exists at present was the site where   Lord Mahavishnu sent Mahabali to 'Patalam'.
To commemorate the procession of the Maharajah to Thrikkakara a spectacular, cultural gala that marks the beginning of the Onam festival is conducted at the town of Thripunithura in the sme name as 'Athachamayam'.  
The Onam celebrations finishes with the 'Snake Boat Race' being held at Aranmula  on 'Uthrittathi asterism'day and the  world renowned spectacular event this year  is on 31st August 2015.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Main ' Bali Tharpanam' Centers of Kerala

This year's 'Karkidaka Vavu' is on Friday, 14th August 2015 and the 'Bali Tharpanam' ritual will be performed by most of the people in Kerala on that day while some people do it on the no moon day of Malayalam month 'Thulam'.
It is well known that the most important places to perform Bali Obeisance  for the departed forefathers are 'Illam Vallam and Nelli'.Illam refers to our own home, 'Vallam' is Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple at Thiruvanathapuram and 'Nelli' is Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple.
Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
For those who like to perform it in their own home has to cook a little rice in a clean place.They have to take bath, wear a white bath towel or dhoti and has to do this ritual.They need a piece of banana leaf on which they have to place the cooked rice by wearing a ring made of 'darpha'( a type of grass) on the right hand ring finger.They have to sit on the floor and has to pray to the Almighty and request the souls of their departed Kin and Kith to be present there during the 'Bali Tharpanam' ritual.They have to provide very small quantities of milk,sandalwood paste,sesame seeds,Cheroola ( a herb), and water one by one on the leaf by assuming that they are providing food for the souls.The believed concept is that one year on the earth is same as their one day at the abode of God.A small piece of thread has to be taken from the towel or dhoti being worn by the performer and placed on the leaf assuming that you are providing the souls clothes also.
Then they begs for mercy for the mistakes done by the performer and family members and pray for the blessings from the departed souls and also from  the God.Then the performer will prostrate and request God to safeguard the souls at his abode.The contents of the leaf will be given to crows or flown in water.
Palaruvi Waterfall
At the famous 'Balitharpanam' sites people gather in large numbers  and perform this ritual in groups.At the centers like 'Thiruvallam,Shanghumugham,Thirumullavarm,Varkala Papanasam,Thirunavaya,Aluva Manalpuram' etc several thousands people throng for this ritual.
Some may feel that these kind of rituals are superstitions.By giving a handful of rice and a piece of thread as food and cloth for all the departed souls in the family once in an year is all nonsense is their feel.The main aim for such kind of ritual is to minimize the pride and ego of the people.Every year they repent for the mistakes performed during the past year before their forefathers and the God will lead them forward through the right path to an extent.The performer will gain strength mentally by feeling that he is not an orphan and is being watched and helped by their forefathers.
 It reminds them that their position and possession will not aid them after the life on this earth.By wearing the same kind of attire, a bath towel or dhoti by the rich and poor,educated high class people and layman alike,   and performing  the ritual in a group of all categories of people,  it reminds them that all are one and the same before God. The well fortunate People will also  think and realize that the food and clothing for  their rich departed souls has to be provided by their relatives and friends and their wealth here on the earth is of no use there at the God's abode.The hyper reality that the  richness and status here in this world  are of no use after their death may minimize their ego.
Thonnallur Pattupurakkavu Bhagavathy Temple
Kallooppara Bhagavathy Temple
Thiruvilwamala Vilwadrinatha Temple
Thrippara Mahadeva Temple
Such kind of rituals are designed for people to lead a disciplined  way of life.They reminds about their obligations and helps to remember about those who were responsible for their existence as well as success.They will understand that there is no need of pride,jealousy,outrage etc.There is no differentiation for God towards any human being.It is evident that even if this ritual is not done, the souls will not starve for food because God is very kind and as the creator of the Universe he handles each and everything preciously well in his own unique way.
 By remembering the departed souls of the kin and kith deeply,expressing gratitude and love towards them   and prostrating to them at least once in an year, request them  to forgive the mistakes done during  the past year is all but a  good practice in every sense.
Some of the main 'Bali Tharpanam' centers in Kerala are:-
1)   Thiruvallam Temple,Thiruvananthapuram



Bali Tharpanam at Varkala Papanasam Beach






2)   Aruvikkara Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
3)   Aruvippuram Temple,Thiruvananthapuram
4)   Shanghumugham Beach,Thiruvananthapuram
5)   Papanasam Beach,Varkala
6)   Thirumullavaram Beach,Kollam
7)   Mundakkal Beach, Kollam,
8)   Veerabhadra Swamy temple,Ashtamudi,Kollam
9)   Palaruvi Waterfall,Kollam
!0)  Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple ghats,Aranmula
11) Thonnallur Pattupurakkavu Bhagavathy Temple ghats,Pathanamthitta
12) Bhagavathy temple ghats in Manimala River at Kallooppara
13) Mahadeva Temple ghats,Pandalam
14) Thrippara Mahadeva temple ghats,Vallicode,Pathanamthitta
15) Thriveni ghats at Pamba,Sabarimala
16) Komalam Devi temple  ghats,Vennikulam
17) Thrikkunnapuzha temple  Beach
18) Aluva Mahadeva Temple ghats
19) Thirunavaya Temple ghats
20) Thirunelli Mahavishnu Temple
21) Thiruvilwamala Vilwadrinatha Temple
22) Varakkal Beach near Kozhikode
23) Thrikkannad Triambakeswara Temple





Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thrikkannad Triambakeswara Temple

Thrikkannad Triambakeswara temple near Bakel in Kaseragod is an important Lord Shiva temple of northern Kerala.It is the only Shiva temple which faces to the West in this region and it is situated beside  the Kanhangad- Kaseragod National highway facing the Arabian Sea.





It is 10 km from Kaseagod and 14 km from Kanhangad and buses fro Kanhangad to Kaseragod on Chandragiri road  passes along this way.This temple is an attraction to the passengers passing by.
The annual festival of this temple which takes place during Feb-March will be a grand event in which deities and devotees from neighboring temples such as 'Uduma,Chemmanad and Pallikkara' also participates.For the 'Arattu' procession the deities and devotees from these three temples known collectively as 'Moonnuthara' participates making it a big spectacular procession which goes along the sea shore attracting large number of spectators and devotees.
This temple is well known for the 'Karkidaka Vavu Bali' and large number of men and women participates in the 'Pithru Tharpanam' as the obeisances to their forefathers and dearest departed souls.