Thursday, 19 January 2012

Peruvanam Shiva Temple


Lord Shiva plays a significant role in Hindu Mythology and thus thousands of temples and shines had erected to show respect and esteem to him. Peruvanam Shiva Temple in Cherpu is prominent among them.  It’s a circular temple of Lord Shiva extended over an area of 6 acres. It’s an ideal example of Kerala style structural design and its architectural value dates back to the 12th century. The unique idol of Lord Shiva and two Shivalingom on the same pedestal is the prime resource of allurement of the temple. God Shiva is worshiped here, as Erattayappan.

Traditions

According to legends, of the 64 gramams which Parasurama created, Peruvanam remained the greatest for centuries. Four Shasthas - Akamala in North (beyond Wadakkancherry), Kutiran in East (midway between Thrissur and Palakkad), Edathuruthy in the West (2 kms east of Edamuttom Junction in Kodungallur-Thrprayar route) and Uzhathu Kavu in south (near Kodungallur) guarded the boundaries of its domain, roughly that part of central Kerala between Bharathapuzha in the north and Periyar in the south.
In a Brahmanippattu current in the locality, Peruvanathappan (Lord of Peruvanam) is described as the annihilator of the Thripuras. In a shloka attributed to Vilvamangalathu swamiyar, the pratishta is supposed to be of Ardhanareeswara.

"ardhanareeswaram devam
poorunancha pratishtitham
mateswaram mahadevam
parvatheencha ganeswaram"

Certain others claim that the two swayambhulingas reperesent Shankara and Narayana, a pointer to the amalgamation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. Like in the Vadakkunnatha temple here also a certain order is followed in worshipping the deities (pradakshina krama), which is Erattayappan, Shri Parvathy, Dakshinamoorthy, Erattayappan, Maadathilappan, Pooru maharshi, Ganapathy and Erattayappan.
It is one of the imperative shrines run after the Cochin Devaswom Board. Vattezhuthu and Malayalam dedications have been imprinted on the walls of the temple and the temple is thus also known as Perumtrikkovil. 

Darshana Kramam

There are two approaches to the inner courtyard (Chuttampalam) of the Peruvanam temple, from the west and east sides. The main entrance is from the east. As you enter from the east you are facing Sreeparvathy, the Goddess who is the consort of Erattayappan. You may start the darshanam there, but have to come back later. There you are in front of a large circular sanctum sanctorum (Sreekovil) of Erattayappan facing west. It is the custom to start the worship with Erattayappan. Next, you go behind in an anticlockwise direction (Apradakshinam) and pray to Sreeparvathy facing east. There is a taboo all over Kerala in crossing the imaginary ray (Soma Rekha) emanating from Siva and going north. Hence, one does not make a complete perambulation in the inner courtyard of Siva temples. Most devotees at the Peruvanam temple go round the Bilva tree to the north and return clockwise to the south side where there is a shrine of Ganapathy and Dakshinamoorthy. You then, go back to the west and worship Erattayappan once again. There is an independent large, Sreekovil of another Siva, the Matatthilappan on the south. It is a three storeyed structure and you reach the shrine of Matatthilappan after ascending a flight of over twenty steps. You will find a huge Sivalinga at the back of a large Mukhamandapam (hall). It is believed that the Sivalingam worshipped by sage Puru for long years is beneath that. The sage, himself, has been enshrined to the south west corner of the inner courtyard (Chuttampalam). After getting down the stairs of Matatthilappan you pay obeisance to the sage. If you keep to the western border of the courtyard and walk to the north you reach the shrine of another Ganapathy, with his trunk twisted right. You pray to him for the ultimate goal in human life, for salvation and turn to the north side. There you get to the front of the last of the shrines inside the inner courtyard. Two deities are housed there, Raktheswary and Manikantha. The former is a form of Bhadrakali and the latter a form of Lord Siva. You must worship Erattayappan once again before coming out of the inner courtyard, through the same entrance you got in. There is a shrine, of Gosalakrishna, outside the main structure (Chuttampalam) of Erattayappan on the north side. This is Lord Krishna in the company of his dear cattle. You go in a clockwise fashion to worship Him. That ends the Darshana Kramam at the Peruvanam temple.

There is a verse (Sloka) describing this order of worship, as follows:

“Poorvan Pooruvane janais savinayam dwithwaasrayas sankaro
Vandyah, caatha gireendrajaa, punaratas sanyaasayogee kramaal
Yugmesasca, mahalayoparivasan maateswaro anantaram
Yogeendrasca, gajaananah, punarato yugmeswarasca kramaal.”

Meaning:

First, at Peruvanam, Siva in dual form is to be worshipped humbly by the devotees. Then, Sreeparvathy and then the Lord in meditation (to be worshipped). Then Ganapathy and then the Lord occupying a high abode (to be worshipped). Next the sage, Ganapathy and finally Irattayappan (are to be worshipped) We note here that the order of Ganapathy and Dakshinamoorthy is reversed and praying to Irattayappan after this is omitted. The omission of Raktheswary, Manikanthan and Gosalakrishnan must be as they have been enshrined in a later period.

Rituals and Festivals

Five poojas constitute the daily ritual in this mahakshetra. Special poojas such as Navakom, Niraputhari, Vishukkani, Pradosha pooja etc. were being conducted in the by-gone days. Vaaram (veda parayana) and Oottu (meals) were a regularily feature. The temple had lands yielding 4 lakh paras of paddy annually and a 29 day festival used to be celebrated with its culminating Arat in Arattupuzha - the mother of all poorams, with an array of about 108 caparisoned elephants carrying Bhagavathies and Shasthas of all the temples falling within the extensive Peruvanam gramom of yore. Ardra asterism in Dhanu and Shivarathri in Kumbham are the other important days in this temple. The tantries of the temple are Kunnathur Patinjaredathu Bhattathiri and Kizhakkedathu.

Om Namah Shivaya!


Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple


Lord Sree Rajarajeswara
Rajarajeswara(Rajarajeswara is one of the names of Shiva) Temple is situated at Taliparamba, 25 km away from Kannur. Taliparamba or Perinchalloor was one among the 64 brahminical settlement. The old name of Taliparamba was 'Lakshmipura' as this place was considered as an abode of prosperity. All the fame and prosperity to Perinchelloor Gramam is because of the presence of Sree Raja Rajeswara temple and the blessings of Perum Thrikkovilappan.Perinchelloor Gramam has been referred in the Tamil book "Pathittupathu",Chelloor Nadhodaym Chambu (Sanskrit), Kerala Pazhama, Kerala Mahatmyam,Jambukolpathi,Kokila Sandesam, Keralolpathi and many more. Between A.D.216 and 333 Perinchelloor was the capital of Perumakkans as referred in "Pathittupath".



Specialities



This temple has a prominent place amongst the numerous Shiva temples in South India. If any problem is encountered in temples of South India, the final solution is sought in this Temple through a prasna, a traditional method of astrological decision making. The prasna is conducted on a peedha (a raised platform) situated outside the temple. Taliparamba is one among 108 Shiva Temples in Kerala(ancient Kerala from Gokarnam to Kanyakumari) created by Lord Parasurama. Among these temples 12 are considered as most important and called Dwadasa Shivalayas(12 shiva temples). They are Gokarnam Mahabaleswara Temple(now in Karnataka), Taliparamba Rajarajeswara Temple, Kottiyoor Perumal Temple, Thrissur Vadakkunnatha Temple, Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple, Kodungalloor Thiruvanchikkulam Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Mahadeva Temple, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Kandiyoor Mahadeva Temple and Suchindram Sthanumalaya Perumal Temple.



Taliparamba is regarded as one of the ancient Shakti Peethams. Legend has it that the head of Sati fell here after Shiva's tandavam following Sati's self-immolation. So this temple is popularly known as Rajarajeswari Temple. Siro Peetham or Sirassu is the other names given for Rajarajeswari Temple in some ancient documents. Interestingly Taliparamba Rajarajeswari Temple is also included in the list of 108 Durga Temples created by Lord Parasuram. In the list Taliparamba is mentioned as "Sirassilum".
Entrance wall of Rajarajeswara temple built in hard laterite

Architecture 
The quadrangular sanctum has a two tiered pyramidal roof. In front of the sanctum is the namaskara mandapam. The temple has no kodi maram (flagstaff) as opposed to other temples in Kerala. The balikkal has no roof but is embellished by a mysterious figure with a peculiar face. In front of the balikkal is a small rectangular building with a pyramidal roof, which is not usually found anywhere else. An inscription on the structure of the temple tank (which is a little away from the temple on the north side) indicates that the temple and the tank were renovated in 1524 A.D.



Sub Deities - Upadevathas

The Shiva linga here is believed to be thousands of years old. Legend has it that Shiva gave three sacred Sihvalingas to Parvathy for worship. Once sage Maandhatha propitiated Lord Shiva with intense prayers. Shiva was so pleased that he presented one of the Shivalingas to him with the injunction that it should be installed only at a place where there was no cremation ground. The sage, after searching all over, found Taliparamba the most sacred spot where he installed the linga.



After his death the linga however disappeared into the earth. Then his son Muchukunda offered similar prayers to Shiva and got a second linga, which too disappeared in course of time. Centuries passed. The third Shivalinga was handed down to Satasoman, a king of Mushaka (Kolathunad) dynasty who then ruled the region. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva. On the advice of sage Agastya he prayed to Lord Shiva who granted him the Shivalinga. Parasurama installed the Lingam in the present temple built by Satasoma.



Glory of Namaskaramandapa

The Namaskara Mandapa (mukha mandapa) infront of the Sreekovil(sanctum sanctorum) is the place where Lord Sree Rama (on his way back to Ayodhya from Lanka after defeating Ravana) prostrated before Raja Rajeswara. As a respect to Sree Rama no one is allowed into this namaskara mandapa and offer prayers, which is permitted in other temples for Brahmins.



Pooja Timing

The temple opens at 4.00 am in the morning and after Uchha pooja the temple will be closed at 12 am. The temple opens again at 5 pm. The Deepaaraadhana is performed at 6.30 pm and the last pooja, the Athazha pooja takes place at 8 pm.



While men are allowed to enter the Nalambalam always, woman are allowed only after the Athazha pooja in the night. At this time the Lord is supposed to be happy in the company of his consort, Parvathi, and pleased to grant the desires of His devotees whom pray to Him with humility and sincerity and this is considered to be the most auspicious time for women to enter the Naalambalam as they get the occasion to worship the divine couple.



Thanthri - Chief Priest

There are four Thanthris belonging to four Illams such as Poonthottathil Pudayoor Mana, Eruvesi Pudayoor Mana Edavalath Pudayoor Mana and Naduvath Pudayoor Mana. The present Thatris are Brahmasri P.P.Vasudevan Namboodiri, Brahmasri P.P.Pandurangan Namboodiri, Brahmasri E.P.Harijayandan Namboodiri, Brahmasri E.P.Kuberan Namboodiripad and Brahmasri N.P.Narayanan Namboodiri.



Traditional way of visiting the temple- Darsana Krama

According to the traditional system of visiting this temple the devotee first worship Lord Krishna at the shrine of Vasudevapuram located at the southern bank of the vast temple tank known as Aashraamath-chira, where there is a beautiful idol of Krishna playing the flute. Then, proceeding towards Sree Rajarajeswara temple one worship at the shrine of Sree Bhoothanatha (Kumbhodhara), who is the chief lieutenant of lord Shiva. The main entrance is on the east and before entering the nalambalam one turns eastwards and offers prayers to lord Vaidyanatha(kanhirangaatt-appan), an aspect of lord Shiva worshipped as the lord of physicians, enshrined in temple about 6 km from Rajarajeswara temple.

On entering the eastern gate the devotee makes a circumambulation of the whole central shrine before stepping inside the shrine. Towards the northern side there is a small shrine of a guardian deity called Yakshi. Usually a Yakshi is considered to be a female spirit with malevolent propensities, but the Yakshi installed here represents a prosperity-giving and benevolent spiritual power. The figure is a life size wooden sculpture of unique charm. The Yakshi is represented as one who is intently into a mirror.

After worshipping this guardian deity the devotee, proceeds towards the front of the central shrine and worships the Rishabha, the bull Ć¢€“ mount of lord Shiva out side the central shrine facing the lord. Near Rishabha is the Balikkallu of huge proportions, made of granite with many figurines and intricate carvings. Because of its great antiquity it calls for replacing it with a new one, maintaining its exact proportions and carving.

While circumambulating the Naalambalam (the outer structure around Sree Kovil, the sanctum sanctorum), one walk towards the left side and from the Nirarithikonam (south-west corner) worships Goddess Annapoorneshwari of the famous shrine in Cherukunnu, a few kilometer away, and standing on the west one worships Goddess Bhadrakaali enshrined in another renowned shrine of divine mother in Maadaayikkavu. Originally, it is said, that goddess Bhadrakaali was worshipped in the western Gopuram of Sri Rajarajeswara temple and later the idol was taken and installed in the shrine at Maadaayikkavu.

After making the circumambulation outside the Nalambalam the devotee enters the inner space around the sanctum sanctorum to worship lord RajarajeswaraĆ¢€™s Jyothirlingam. As usual in the temples of lord Shiva, the circumambulation is performed only up to the theertha-channel and it is completed with a reverse circumambulation up to the channel.

On the west of the sanctum sanctorum is the seat of divine mother Pravathi, the consort of lord Shiva. The door here is permanently closed. There is a symbolic legend regarding the permanent closure of this door. This legend is related to the active presence of both Shiva and Vishnu aspects of reality in this shrine.

Like many a temple legend this aspect is also symbolized by a very personalized legend relating to lord Shiva and lord Vishnu through an interesting story. According to it, once Goddess Mahalakshmi, consort of lord Vishnu, came to the shrine to pay obeisance to lord Rajarajeshwara. On seeing the arrival of Mahalakshmi, the lord decided that there should be her prosperity-bestowing presence also in the shrine. Therefore, the lord immediately assumed the form of Mahavishnu and goddess Mahalakshmi entered the sanctum sanctorum presuming that it was her lord and seated beside him. And only when lord Shiva assumed his original form did Mahalakshmi realize the mistake. After paying her respects to the lord, she was about to make a hurried exit through the back door when lord Shiva ordered his attendants, the Bhoothaganas, to permanentely close the door on western side at the seat of goddess Parvathi so that the aspect of material prosperity which goddess Mahalakshmi represented should also be vibrant in the shrine for the benefit of the worshippers.

Later, when lord Vishnu arrived at the temple in search of his consort, lord Shiva’s attendants prayed to him to allow the presence of goddess Lakshmi also in the temple for the benefit of the devotees, which lord Vishnu gladly conceded to before taking his consort along with him.

The legend thus signifies in a way interesting to the common people the special message that the spiritual presence in the shrine benefits the devotees for their material and spiritual well being. Signifying this combination of the Shaiva and Vaishnava aspects in the shrine, twice a year, during Shivaratri and Vishu, the Uthsavamoorthi of the nearby renowned Srikrishna temple of Trichambaram is ceremoniously brought to Sri Rajarajeshwara temple and both are worshipped on the same peetha. This is a unique custom in Taliparamba temple and thousands of devotees gather here on these days to have the darsan of Umamaheswara and Lakshminarayana. The Vishukkani darsanam in this temple is thus auspicious. This also signifies the fact that Shiva and Vishnu are the same. There is no Shaiva Vaishnava difference exists in Kerala.

The place Taliparamba is also known as Lakshmipuram and it is believed that the name is related to this legend. In some hymns to lord Rajarajeshwara the lord is also addressed as the Aishwarya prabhu, the lord of prosperity and Lakshmi Puraadheeshwaran the lord of Lakshmipuram.

Taliparamba Temple is also connected with two more temples - Thrichambaram Sree Krishna Temple andCherukunnu Annapoorneswari Temple. Taliparamba, Thrichambaram and Cherukunnu temples are collectively called Moonnambalams (three temples). Those who visit Taliparamba temple should also visit Thrichambaram and Cherukunnu temples. Visit to these three temples is called Moonnambalam Thozhal. Though it is not practised as widely as it was in the earlier days, it is still a religious custom among many local Hindu women to visit four prominent temples in Taliparamba when they are pregnant. For getting good children and for normal delivary pregnant women (before 5 months) usually visit these three temples along with Kanjirangad Sree Vaidyanatha Temple. It is believed that Shiva at Rajarajeshwara temple assures the child a high status, Sri Krishna of Trichambaram bestows with good nature and mental qualities, Goddess Annapoorneswari at Cherukunnam with wealth and the deity at Kanjiragat temple with long life. Now these four temples are well connected with roads. It is very easy now to visit these temples in a single day. Many pilgrims from different parts of the State visits these temples every day. These temples also attract devotees from neighbouring States especially from Karnataka.



Offerings - Vazhipadu

Ghee in small pots are offered to the presiding deity Shiva and are placed on steps leading to the sanctum. Its called Neyyamrithu in Malayalam language. The custom is that just as kings and emperors are seen only by offering some gifts-kazhchha-the Lord of Taliparamba, who is King of Kings, can be seen only by placing naiamrithu on the sopanam (steps leading to the sanctum). The ghee offered is used for abhisheka and for lighting the lamps in the central shrine. On auspicious days like Mondays, pradosham etc., hundreds of such small naiamrithu pots can be seen placed before the deity.



Festivals - Utsavams

Mahasivratri and Vishu are the two main annual festivals here. The 21 days annual festivals start in first week of March every year.



Rajarajeswara Stotras

The most distinguished of the royal poets of the Zamorin of Calicut, Uddanda Sastri, being a Nirgunopasaka was never given to worshipping of deities. Whenever he visited any temple he simply stood before the deity folding his hands. But when he stood before Rajarajeswara, the Kings, at Taliparamba he was so overwhelmed by the magnificence of the deity that he unconsciously uttered the words, 'Hara Hara Mahadeva', and prostrated himself before the Lord. Then and there he composed a verse to the effect that when he saw the splendorous crescent adorning the idol his hands automatically joined together in prayer. "Moon on your head is like an actual moon which makes the devotees fold their hand as if a water lilly does in the moonlight".




Kings and Rajarajeswara
In the past Kerala was divided into many small kingdoms and there were many kings/rulers. They all considered Lord Rajarajeswara as their Chakaravarthy (Rajarajeswara or King of Kings). The region was ruled by Zamorins(Samoothiri) of Kozhikkod and they were devotees of Lord Rajarajeswara. One of the Zamorins was an ardent devotee of the Lord of Taliparamba. After years of intense worship he is said to have entered the sanctum sanctorum and merged with the God. Even today when the elder Zamorin dies the information should be given to the temple authorities and the Lord is supposed to observe mourning. Even the distant Travancore kings paid obeisance to the deity by offering an elephant whenever a ruler is crowned or visited the temple.



J.Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu visited Sri Rajarajeshwara Temple at Taliparamba in 2001. Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa offered worship at Rajarajeswara Temple many times and in November 2008, he had offered an elephant. He worshipped Lord Rajarajeswara amid the political crisis faced by his government following the decision by 19 MLAs to withdraw support to the BJP government and he survived from the crisis. But even today none of the ministers of Kerala have the courage to enter before Lord Rajarajeswara.
The Taliparamba temple also was subject to attack by Tipu Sultan. One finds relics of the old gigantic gopuram at the entrance, which was demolished by Tipu's army. The story goes that when the temple was under siege, the head priest was inside the sanctum sanctorum and prayed ceaselessly day and night. it is further said that a black snake bit the commander of the army and a hooded serpent appeared before every soldier thus immobilizing the army and saving the temple from total destruction.



The place is considered as most sacred for performing Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu. Whenever a new Koodiyattam is being directed, first it is usually performed at this temple. However only the 'Maani' family of Chakyars solely posses the right of performing Koodiyattam here. Legendary Koodiyattam and Chakyar koothu maestro, Natyaachaarya Vidushakaratnam Padma Shri Maani Madhava Chakyaar had performed here for many decades. The title 'Vidushakaratnam' was awarded to him from this temple. One of the greatest appreciation or award that an artist/scholar can get, is the 'Veerashringhala'- Golden Bracelet, from the temple, given by the unanimous approval of the scholar body of the temple. Guru Mani Madhava Chakyaar is the youngest and last person to get the Veerashringhala from here.


How to Reach
Taliparamba is a Muncipality in Kannur district and is the headquarters of Taliparamba Taluk. Taliparamba is on the National Highway–17 and the Rajarajeswara temple is situated 23 Kms north-east of Kannur city. From Kasargod 83 Kms towards south. The devotees coming from Mangalore have to travel about 135 Kms south on Kasargode – Kannur route via Manjeswaram, Kanhangad, Nileswaram, Payyanur, Pilathara, Pariyaram to reach Thaliparamba. The nearest Railway stations are Kannur and Payyanur. Plenty of buses are running to Taliparamba from all the above places. 

 Om Namah Shivaya!


Malayalapuzha Bhagavathy Temple



Malayalapuzha Bhagawathi temple is just outside the Pathanamthitta town. The Goddess here is in the fierce form of the Goddess known as Bhadrakali. She is called Malayalapuzha Amma. The temple attracts devotees from all major religions of Kerala. The popular belief is that the Goddess is noted for getting the unmarried girls married, protecting the devotee from enemies, helping businesses flourish, getting employment and in general extending prosperity to all the devotees. 

There is a popular story about the temple. Long long time ago one Namboodiri Brahmin went by walk to the Mookambika temple at Kollur. He spent a lot of time there unable to be a part with the Goddess Mookambika. When he decided to go back to his native place near Maruthwa Mala, the Goddess appeared in his dream and told him that she will come along with him to his place and entered the Saligramam that he was worshipping. Since this happened at night she came in the form of Bhadra kali with eight arms and a very fierce looks. The Namboodiri reached along with a saligramam and a Palm leaf umbrella a palatial home called Thombil Kottaram. He stayed and took rest for few days. But when he wanted to take the Saligramam and Umbrella, they did not move from that place. That night in his dream, the Goddess came and told him that she likes the place and would like to stay there. She also told the Namboodiri, that he will not live very long and would merge with her soon. He died soon and due to that her worship was affected. Bad omens came in large number in that place and the Goddess entered in to a member of the Thombil family and asked them to build a temple for her at that spot. This temple was about 5 km from the present temple. That Goddess was consecrated facing east and nearby a Shiva Linga also has been consecrated. This was in a plateau which is in between five hills. Later according to the wish of the idapally king, the chief of Thombil clan shifted the Goddess to the present location. 
On one story is that the Chief of the clan became very old and was not able to climb the hills and reach the temple. He consecrated the Goddess in a spot on the shores of the south Malayala puzha, and below the Idathattil Mountain. It seems that there was a temple of serpents in that place and this was destroyed to accommodate the temple of the Goddess. Even today there is worship in the original temple and lots of devotees gather there on the first of every Malayalam month. 

There is another story about the origin of this temple. This temple was originally situated in a small village called Edathitta, in Pathanamthitta Dist. This was a full-fledged village ruled by Raja Shaktibhadran, the only Sanskrit south Indian writer. One day a tantrik from Malayalapuzha visited this place as he heard a lot about this temple. Malayalpuzha was in drought for many years. So the TANTRIK with his power migrated the shakti's of the devi to malayalapuzha. And the place progressed like anything. As the shakti's were taken away from edathitta, the place faced many destructions and gradually there were no signs of the temple. Then according to the prashnakundali people found out as in when it was migrated and when will it come back as the power cannot be transferred completely. It was mentioned that it will take 3000 yrs for this shakti to come back. And in 1992 somebody from that village saw a dream that the vigraham and the pooja utensils were beneath the ground and people started digging that place where they found everything mentioned by the person. And the villagers then contributed towards temple. 

The idol in the present location below the idathattil mountain is very fierce looking. It is made of concentrated Jaggery and is about 5 feet tall and has eight hands, with one leg moved to the front and kept on the Vetala and another stepped back. In spite of the fierce appearance the devotees only see mercy in her eyes. Since the idol is made of Jaggery, only flower worship is done to it. It seems there was a custom to remove the idol every twelve years and replace it with a new idol got made in Tamilnadu. But once the people were not able to remove the idol from its seat the Thombil Namboodiri that night saw a dream in which the Goddess told him that she does not want her idol to be removed and asked him to continue the worship for that idol forever. 
Just before entry to the sanctum, there is a small idol of Veera Bhadra and another peculiarity of the temple is the statue of Parvathi , on whose lap is the baby Ganapathi suckling her. For recovering stolen goods people offer Thoniyari Payasam (Payasam made of 36 ¼ para (Para is approximately 14 kg) of rice people believe that offer of Payasam made of with 101 Nazhi(120 ml) of rice, coconut milk, jaggery and 101 banana fruits offered to the goddess leads to fulfillment of our desires and success in business. Ladies offer Manjadi seeds (Adenanthera pavonina Linn) to the Goddess for increase of breast milk. This same seed after taking it round their hair is offered by ladies near the flag post for luxurious hair growth. Offer of arecanut, betel leaves, tobacco and camphor to the Goddess at the sanctum is believed to help us fulfill our desires. The sacred ash that you get back from the temple should be kept in the prayer room. People believe that within a year their desires would be fulfilled. People believe that when we make requests to the Goddess, if a honey bee from outside enters the Sanctum sanctorum and returns back in our presence then our desire would definitely be fulfilled. There is another peculiar belief in the temple that the soul of the devotees of the Goddess, after death comes and stays in the temple. So their sons/daughters come to the temple along with a piece of sandalwood packed in a red silk, make the soul enter that and take it out. This is called Chavirakkal (removal of death). Farmers pray that they will give a part of the harvest of their field and take a cloth from the temple, write on it that the produce belongs to the Goddess. People believe that if this is done then theft of the produce from their field is prevented. This is called “Malayalappuzha Thoopu”.

People also worship the Brahma Rakshas which is on the east of the temple for getting rid of ghosts, devils and evil magic affecting them. Offering of Mangalya to the Goddess to get married quickly is also done. Just outside the temple The Naga Raja also is consecrated. Near it we can see a Konna tree which flowers daily all the yearlong. Below that a Shiva Linga which is a Swayambu can be found. People believe that this Shiva linga keeps on growing. People believe that if this Shiva linga is bathed with tender coconut water immediate rain will result. 


There is a temple (half a km away) for the Yogeeswara grand father who brought the Goddess to this place. This is called Sri Kandeswari Moorthi Kavu. There are also Pancha moorthi idols in this temple. Here toddy, meat, Agar Bhathi, tobacco etc are offered to the grand father statute. People believe that the Goddess would be happy only if we visit this temple first before visiting her.

Unlike other Bhagwathi temples , there is no practice (asked to be discontinued by the Goddess ) of drawing her figure using rice powder, turmeric, saffron etc but the usual singing of her story is done there without it. Another peculiar custom of the temple is that the procession carrying the deity turns left (ie clockwise) and because of this people called this Goddess Idathattil Bhagwathi( Bhagawathi of the left).

 Amme Narayana

Peralasseri Subrahmanya Temple




Lord Subrahmanya, son of Lord Siva, is the presiding deity of this temple. The temple is said to be connected with the famous epic, 'Ramayana'. It is believed that it was here that Lord Rama along with Lakshmana halted on their way to free Sita from Ravana in Lanka. The temple also has a shrine for the serpent God and has a number of bronze and copper idols of snakes. The annual festival of the temple is celebrated for eight days. Kathakali, Chakyarkoothu, Ottanthullal, Parayan Thullal and Seethankan Thullal are the main art-forms performed during the festival. Another important concert during the festival is a highly religious dance, ' Thidampunritham' performed by the priest. Peralaserry Subramania Temple along with Payyanur Subramania temple is probably the most important and must visit Subramania Temples in Kerala. 
The Peralassery Subramanya Temple, is located 15 kms from Kannur. It is also believed that people who visit Peralaserry temple must also visit the nearby Makrery temple. The main “vazhipaddu” or offerings in this temple are “Subramania Puja” and “Mutta Oppikal” (offering of eggs to the revered snake deity). The main deity of this temple is Lord Subramania. “Chuttambalam” has deities of Lord Ganesha, Lord Ayyapa. The Stepped Pool/Tank or “Chira” of  the Peralassery Subramania temple is a magnificent structure. The week long Kodiyettam festival associated with the Peralassery Subramanya temple is in the Month of December, every year. 

How to get to Peralaserry Subramania Temple, Kannur, Kerala.

Nearest Railway Station : Kannur (Cannanore) 16 Kms away. 
Nearest Airports: Mangalore in Karnataka State, about 50 kms from Kasaragod and  Kozhikode (Calicut) International Airport , Karipur, about 200 kms from Kasaragod
Main Private Bus Terminal in Kannur: 16kms away. 
KSRTC Bus Terminal in Kannur (Caltex): 15Kms away. 



Om Sree Subhramanya Namah!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Haripad Sree Subrahmanya Swamy Temple




Harippad is a small town, which is about 15-20 km from Alleppy in Kerala.  A great temple dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya is situated here. It is believed that when Lord Subrahmanya victoriously vanquished Tharakasura and Soora Padma and was returning back he was received in this place with Music by Lord Vishnu. So this place was called Hari Geetha Puram and possibly( in the river near Pathiramanal Island and ) was called Hari pattu (song of Lord Vishnu) in Malayalam or it may have got its name from the “Vishnu Pada “ in the eastern gate of the temple (Hari Padu-Vishnu’s marks). Some people are of the opinion that it has nothing to do with God but Harippad may have taken its name from” too much of rice”.

It is believed that this temple is 3500 years old and was consecrated by Lord Parasurama Himself. There are several inscriptions in this temple in Tamil. The temple got fire and was reconsecrated about one hundred years back. There is a story that after building the temple the Namboodiris were in search of a proper idol to consecrate here. One of them was ordered in the dream to go to Kayamkulam and visit a pond (there he was told that a garland would be floating at one spot and if he makes a search there, he would get the suitable idol. The Namboodiris went there and got an Idol of the present God with four arms, one arm holding a Vel, another Vajrayudha, one showing the sign of blessing and one hand touching its thigh, This idol was brought and consecrated on the Pushya(poosam) star of Makara Masa(Thai maasam- January-february). This day is celebrated as the founding day of the temple every year. 

Apart from Subrahmanya, the temple also has the idols of Maha Ganapathi and Dakshinamurthy. People believe that that the Subrahmanya idol has the Sannidhya (presence) of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Several peacocks wander in this temple The major offerings in this temple in called Thula Payasam in which rice, green gram dhal, jaggery coconuts, ghee, banana fruits(kadali), black grapes, sugar candy, cardamom etc are added. Apart from this Kadum Payasam (strong Payasam), neyyappam, Paal payasam, Vellai Neivedhyam , Payasam made of coconut milk Panchamrutham, Ilai adai etc are also offered to the God. People offer a garland made of lime fruits to Lord Subrahmanya.

There is a story that a rich Brahmin who was a great devotee of Lord Subrahmanya  was not blessed with any children. He transferred all his properties to the temple and went outside the temple by the western gate and committed suicide. From that day, the western gate is kept locked. To atone this, a temple has been built in Karu Nattu Illam and every year the God’s procession passes by its front. But as soon as the procession comes near the house, all music is stopped and only the sound of conch accompanies the procession. Out side the main temple, there is a original temple. Here the God is Velayudha with two hands. This temple is called The Temple which is below (keezh thiru koil).


Getting there:

The temple is located just a kilometer away from Harippad town in Alappuzha district.

Nearest railway station: Harippad, about 5 km away.

Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km away from Alappuzha.
Om Sree Subhramanya Namah!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple




Mannarasala is a famous temple of snakes in Kerala. This is situated near Aleppy town of Kerala and is near Harippad. This temple is supposed to be 6000 years old and is believed to be built by Sage Parasurama. This place was supposed to be the Gandeeva forest of Mahabharatha, which was burnt by Arjuna. The people living in this village had saved several snakes of the forest by constantly pouring water and drenching the earth. Since this the “mud became cold”, it was initially called “Man aariya Salai” and later this became Mannarasalai.

Lord Parasurama who built a temple in this place brought several Brahmins and made them to live in this place. But due to very large number of snakes and the water being saline, those Brahmins went away. Lord Parasurama did Thapas to Lord Shiva. Who told him, that if Parasurama requests Vasuki, the king of snakes, everything would be set right. Parasurama did accordingly. Vasuki was pleased and told him, “Lord, these snakes will remain here only but would not hurt anybody in this village. All the people in this village have to build a snake temple in their house and daily lit a lamp in front of it at dusk. I would myself take out the salt from this village and mix it in the sea, “Parasurama gladly agreed and again brought the Brahmins. They were all Namboodiri Brahmins. They built their houses here and lived happily. Parasurama built a temple of Naga Raja and Naga Yakshi in that place. He made one family called Irinada palli to have their home in the temple compound. The first residents of this house were Vasudevan Namboodiri and his wife Sridevi andarjanam. Their family continued to look after the temple, after some time, the only living couple of the family did not have children. They prayed at the temple and as a result got two sons. One of them was a snake. This snake was born in Aslesha(Ayilyam) star of the Kumbha month (February-March). As soon the snake son was born, it told , “mother, we the snakes are very happy with your family. We want the eldest female member of this family to conduct the ceremonial worship in our temple. Since you are the eldest, now I will teach you all the rituals that have to be followed in our worship. “ He taught his mother the rituals and since that that time, the worship in that temple is offered by the eldest lady of the family (She is called Mannarsala Amma(mother)). That son then entered the dark store room of that house. He had also warned that no body should enter the room. But it is opened once a day for worship by the Amma of the temple. She normally keeps a cup of milk and then closes the door. Next day, the cup is found empty. This snake in the store is called “Grand father” by all people and all of them revere that snake. The other son born with the snake established two temples in Mannarsala, one dedicated to Naga Raja and another to Naga Yakshi. One of the snakes there was given as a dowry for a girl who got married a Brahmin family in Kayankulam. That snake entered the store room of that house and a similar temple like Mannarsalai was built there. This temple is called Mey Palli. And is near Kayankulam. The most important offering in the temple is “noorum palaum”. This is the mixture of rice powder, turmeric powder and milk. These would be kept outside the temple at night. In the morning the contents of the vessel are poured in the mud. The Noorum palum is also given to the grand father in the store house. But the contents of the vessel disappear next day, when the store is opened. It is well known that snakes of the temple do not bite anybody. Even if it bites nothing happens to the person. It is also well known that nothing is stolen from the temple. It is believed that the snakes of the temple guard the property of the temple. On the aslesha (Ayilyam) star of the Thula month(October-November) is celebrated as a great festival in this temple. People wanting children as well as those affected by Naga Dosha come to this temple and it is believed that all their problems are solved.

How to reach
Nearest bus station: 1.5 kms from Haripad KSRTC bus stand.
Nearest railway station: Haripad (3 kms), Mavelikkara (10 kms), Kayamkulam (11 kms).
Airport: 115 km from Cochin International Airport,125 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
"Naga Daivangale, Sarpa Yakshi, Amme Ellapereyum Kathukollaname" 
Loka Samastha Suhino Bhavanthu!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple



Guruvayoor Temple is famous as *Bhooloka Vaikuntam* (Vaikuntam on earth).

*Srimad Narayaneeyam* (which has the stamp of approval by Bhagavan Krishna Himself) begins with the statement : “ It is the greatest fortune of mankind in this *Kali Yuga* that the *ParaBrahman* manifests itself as Bhagavan Krishna Deity in Guruvayoor temple to bless the Bhaktas . He is incomparable, eternal, free of Maya (illusion), all-pervading and the root cause of entire Universe. Even the Vedas cannot fully understand Him. But, just by Krishna-bhakti alone, devotees easily attain Guruvayoor Bhagavan. Although such a very easy Krishna-realization is readily available at Guruvayoor temple, foolish people fail to worship Him. But, we Krishna-Bhaktas, with a firm mind take refuge in Guruvayoor-Bhagavan ,the very embodiment of *ParaBrahman*. ”

Yes! Mankind is fortunate indeed for having been blessed with Guruvayoor Temple. Shree Guruvayoorappan is ever willing to grant the glorious vision of his charming form and shower his blessings on the Bhaktas who come to Guruvayoor temple. Many Bhaktas are thanking Him for favours already granted, and some praying for desires to be fulfilled, and some just to offer their humble prostrations. Guruvayoorappan has been presented to the devotees, as decreed by Bhagavan Himself for the benefit of mankind in the Kali-yuga. Is not the mankind fortunate ?
Many Mahatmas like Sankaracharya and Vilwamangalam had the divine vision of Bhagavan Shree Krishna in Guruvayoor temple . Guruvayoorappan is *Pratyaksa-deva* ( visible God) to the living legend Bhagavata-hamsam Malliyoor Sankararan Namboodiri. Guruvayoor temple’s unique *Acharams* ( traditions) including daily rituals and Poojas were formulated by Adi Sankaracharya under Bhagavan’s guidance. These *Kshetra-Acharams* are being strictly followed without any compromise. The Temple Tantris are available full time at the Temple to ensure this. The *Melsanti* ( Chief Priest) enters the *Sri Kovil* (( sanctum sanctorum)) at 2:30 AM and he does not drink even a glass of water up to the completion of noon poojas at 12:30 PM. This absolute purity of vedic tradition is the hallmark of Guruvayoor temple .

EARLY HISTORY
The *Narada Purana* in its chapter *Gurupavanapura Mahatmya* states: "King Janamejaya, in order to avenge the death of his father Pareekshit, (who was killed by Serpent Chief Takshaka ), performed the *Sarpayajna* (snake sacrifice) in which thousands of innocent serpents were burnt alive . As a result of their curse, Janamejaya was afflicted with terrible leprosy, which left him in utter despair. Sensing this, Sage Dattatreya appeared before him with a remedy – Seek the mercy of Bhagavan Krishna, at Guruvayoor temple ”.
The Sage recounted that, Bhagavan Maha Vishu Himself was the first to worship this *Moorty*. At the beginning of the Padma Kalpa, he gave the image to Brahma. At the beginning of the *Varaha Kalpa*, the childless couple, Sutepa & Prisna prayed to Brahma for a son. Brahma gave them this Moorty, assuring them of their wish if they worshipped the Moorty with sincere devotion. This they did with excellence, so much so that the Lord MahaVishnu Himself appeared before them. As a boon, they prayed Him three times, for a son. He blessed them that, He would be born to them as son in three successive births. And,they would also have the good fortune of worshipping the divine Moorty in all the three
births. Accordingly, in the first birth, Sutepa and Prisna had Prisigarbha as son . In their second birth , as Kasyapa & Aditi, the couple worshipped the same Moorty and got their son Vamana. In their third and the most auspicious birth as Vasudeva and Devaki, Sree Krishna was born to them. After killing Kamsa, Shree Krishna moved to Dwaraka where He built a temple, installed this Moorty and worshipped it. When the time came for His return (to Vaikunta), Bhagavan Krishna entrusted this image to Uddhava, (when the latter expressed, his fears regarding the fate that would befall mankind in *Kaliyuga* during Bhagavan's absence). Bhagavan assured Udhava that, He would manifest in this Moorty, to shield His devotees from the illeffects of Kaliyuga and to bless the mankind. He appraised Udhava that, soon after His departure Dwaraka would submerge in the ocean ; as such, he should install the Moorty in an equally sacred spot in consultation with Brihaspati (Guru of Gods). Accordingly, Guru along with Vayu (Wind-God) set forth to Dwaraka where they found, the image being tossed about in the sea by the surging waves. Vayu carried the image and both started searching for a sacred place for its installation. They were later joined by Sage Parasurama , and they came upon a lake of lotuses (Rudratheertha) where Lord Siva and Parvathi were waiting to receive them. Siva told them that that spot was etched out for Narayana long ago ; hence He and Parvathi-devi would move to the opposite bank. Guru and Vayu installed the image in the temple built by Viswakarma, the divine architect of Gods. As Guru and Vayu together founded the temple, the place came to be known as Guruvayoorpura which was later shortened to Guruvayoor. Moved by this story, Janamejaya proceeded to Guruvayoor temple where he worshipped Sree Krishna with great faith , for four months. One night while asleep, he felt Bhagavan Krishna's healing touch over his body and his illness (leprosy) was no more! . King Janamejaya returned to his kingdom elated singing praises for Bhagavan Krishna .

MODERN HISTORY
In 1789 AD, the muslim tyrant Tippu Sultan, with the intention of converting Hindus to Muslims, invaded the kingdom of Calicut where Guruvayoor is located. Apprehending the destruction, the image was hidden underground and the *Utsava Moorty* was shifted to another place . Tippu set fire to the Temple, but it was saved by a celestial voice followed by timely rain. Terribly frightened at this divine intervention, Tippu and his mighty army fled from Guruvayoor. Later, Tippu was defeated and killed by the combined army of Calicut and the English . On November30 1970, an uncontrollable mammoth fire broke out in Guruvayoor temple. It raged all around for five hours, but the Sri Kovil ( Sanctum Sanctorum), flag-staff and all the support - deities remained unaffected. The fire gutted the entire surroundings. The *Sri Kovil* was only 3 yards off, but still the fierce fire did not touch even the dry flower garlands, which hung on the corner of the "Sri Kovil".

Guruvayoor Temple Architecture
Guruvayur temple is an epitome of Kerala's temple Vastuvidya. It is faced towards the East with two *Gopurams*, one at East (*Kizhakkenada*) and other at West (*Padinjarenada*). The entire area between these *Gopurams* is roofed with tiles and known as *Anapanthal*. At the centre of this is a square shaped pillared hall called *Nalambalam*, the outer wall of which is fixed with a gallery of oil lamps. At the south side of the *Nalambalam*, there is a sub shrine of Sastha or Lord Ayyappan. At the north-east side of this shrine is the *Koothambalam* where, in olden times, dance performances were held. In the front and the east side of *Nalambalam* the *Belikkal* and *Deepastambas* - Pillar of lights are located. There are a number of such light pillars in the Temple. The *Deepastambas* at each Gopurams,are of special interest. The eastern side *Deepastambam* is 24 feet in height and has thirteen circular receptacles to hold the wicks. Of the other two at West Gopuram, one is in the shape of a tree. Dwijasthamba - It is a flag-staff, around 70 feet height, fully covered with gold. The square shaped *Sri Kovil* has two stairs and three rooms inside. The inner most room is known as *Garbhagriha* (The Moorty of Bhagavan Krishna is placed here). Here, the two doors and the roof are covered by Gold. All the articles inside the *Garbhagriha* are in Gold. The outer room is called *Mukhamandapam*. The wall of Sree Kovil is decorated with ancient (17th century) murals. In front of the Sree Kovil is the *Namaskara Mandapam* square in shape and with a pyramidal roof. Surrounding this is a pillared square hall called *Nalambalam* or *Chuttambalam*. A gallery of oil lamps is fixed on the wall of *Nalambalam *. In the north-eastern side of the Sree Kovil is the temple well called *Manikinar*. In the North side of the temple, a sub shrine of Devi, *Edathirithi Kavu* is situated. The *Oottupura* the place for *prasadauttu* is also located in the north side Here, the daily lunch is arranged for the devotees. Next to it is the temple tank *Rudratheertha* which is located near the north side of the temple.

POOJAS
The presiding Deity in the *Garbhagraha* (central shrine) is Maha Vishnu, worshipped and served according to the specific pooja routines laid down by Adi Sankaracharya. Bhaktas at large, however, invoke the Bhagavan as Unnikrishna or Balakrishna. The *Moorty* is carved out of *Pathalanjana Sila*, which is supremely sacred.

NIRMALYA DARSHAN (3 A.M to 3.20 A.M). This is the first darshan of the day. Bhagavan is still adorned with the flowers and garlands of the previous night. After the night Pooja (worship), when the doors are closed, the Devas (Gods) come and worship the Moorty. A darshan of Bhagavan who has just been worshipped by the Devas themselves is considered highly auspicious. Amidst the lit lamps, the chiming bells and the conch, the spontaneous loud chanting of the devotees "Narayana", "Guruvayurappa", "Govinda",etc., your mind will be lifted to the higher levels of devotion.

• THAILABHISHEKAM,VAKACHARTH & SANKABHISHEKAM (3.20 A.M to 3.30 A.M) . The rite of bathing the Moorty with gingerly oil takes place, after removing the adornments of the previous day. Then comes `Vakacharth' i.e. sprinkling the Moorty with the `Vaka' powder. The kork of a tree called `vaka' is powdered and used. After this is performed, the `abhishekam' (rite of bathing the Moorty), with water sanctified in a `sankhu' (conch).

• ALANKARAM & MALAR NIVEDYAM (3.30 A.M to 4.15 A.M). After the bath, the Moorty is wiped with a thin cloth, then adorned with garlands, ear ornaments, Kasthuri tilaka and a red loincloth. Butter in hand and playing the flute, Bhagavan here appears as Unnikrishna (child Krishna), reminiscent of His playful days at Gokulam. After the `alankaram' (adornment or decoration), the `malar' (puffed rice) `naivedyam', plantain and jaggery are offered to Bhagavan.

USHA NAIVEDYAM & USHA POOJA (4.15 AM to 4.30 AM). Offerings of cooked rice and `naipayasam' (rice cooked in jaggery) constitute the `usha naivedyam' (morning offering). The 'Usha Pooja' (morning worship) is also conducted at this time.

• ETHIRETTU POOJA (4.30 AM to 6.15 AM). Now Bhagavan and the Sun are facing each other and Pooja is performed by offering `vella naivadyam' (white offering i.e. of cooked rice); simultaneously, the sub-deities in the temple are attended by associate priests. 'Ganapathy homa' is performed in the temple kitchen.

• SIVELI (6.15 AM to 7.00AM). The Sreekovil (Sanctum sanctorum) opens allowing the devotees to have their darshan . The MOORTY then proceeds for the Siveli (procession). The `utsavaMoorty' (processional Moorty) is mounted on an elephant and taken round the temple thrice. Bhagavan wants this exercise to be done, so that He himself can ascertain, if all His celestial attendants and devotees in place are keeping well .

• PALABHISHEKAM, NAVABHISHEKAM, PANTIRADINAIVEDYAM & POOJA (7 AM to 9 AM). What follows is a series of `abhishekams', first in the series being `Palabhishekam' or `Kshirabhishekam' (bathing in milk). Then the `Navabhishekam' is done with, water filled in nine silver pots and sanctified with a course of Poojas. `Pantiradi Pooja' is done when the shadow measures 12 feet .

DARSHAN (9AM to 11.30 AM). Time is given to devotees for darshan.

• UCHA POOJA (Noon Pooja -11.30 AM to 12.30 PM). Conducted at around 12 noon, it is the most important and elaborate Pooja of the day. The `naivedyam' (Offering) consists of cooked rice and `palpayasam' (rice cooked in milk and sugar). Simultaneously, a Brahmin is seated in the temple kitchen and fed well. This custom is mandatory at this ritual.

• THE TEMPLE REMAINS CLOSED FROM 12.30 PM to 4.30 PM. Bhagavan rests during this period.

SIVELI (4.30 PM to 5 PM). The second procession of Bhagavan takes place at this time.

• DARSHAN (5 PM to 6.15 PM). The time is given to the devotee for darshan.

• DEEPARADHANA (6.15 PM to 6.45 PM). All the lamps in the temple are lighted and Bhagavan is worshipped with oil lamps and camphor flames. Conch shells are blown , drums beaten, bells chimed and pipes played . The view of Bhagavan in full glory is visible from a very long distance itself . Bhagavan looks so marvelous amidst the lamps and that even a non-believer will have second thoughts.

DARSHAN (6.45 PM to 7.30 PM). Devotees allowed for darshan .

• ATHAZHA POOJA & ATHAZHA NAIVEDYAM (7.30 PM to 8.15PM). The night worship is `Athazha Pooja' and the offering made at that time is `athazhanaivedyam'. `Appam' and `Ada' (sweetened rice preparation), betel leaf and areca nut are offered at this time.

• ATHAZHA SIVELI (8.45 PM to 9.00 PM). The night procession, the third and last procession of the day takes place.

• TRIPUKA & OLAVAYANA (9.PM to 9.15 PM). Fumigation of the central shrine and temple with nine odoriferous gums in a silver tray is known as `tripuka' . `Ola vayana' is the customary function of reading out day's income and expenditure before Bhagavan.

• The Sri Kovil closes at 9.15 p.m.

FESTIVALS
Ulsavam (Annual Festival) :
This is conducted in the month of *Kumbha* (Feb-March) and lasts for 10 days. The hoisting of the temple flag atop the flagstaff (Dwajastambham) about 70 feet high heralds the festival. On the 1st day, an elephant race is held. On the next 6 days, there are elephant processions in the morning, afternoon and night. In the morning, there is the Sribhuta Bali (Offering of oblation to Bhagavan’s celestial attendants). There are various cultural programs like dance, music, religious discusses are held at Melpathur Auditorium (outside the temple) on all these days. On the 8th day, ‘Utsavabali’ (from 10 am to 4 pm) or oblations are offered to Bhagavan’s lieutenants. A sumptuous feast then awaits the devotees. Pallivetta or the hunting expedition of Bhagavan takes place on the 9th day. This hunt is symbolic of the destruction of Kama (desire), Krodha (anger) and other such evils that plague us in our life. After that Bhagavan’s Thidambu is taken to the Rudratheertham (temple pond) for Aarattu, amidst the chanting of mantras. Thousands of devotees also take the dip, chanting Bhagavan’s name to purge them of their sins. Then Ucha Pooja (i.e, noon worship – this takes place at night only on this day) is held at the Bhagavati shrine. Finally, Bhagavan returns to the sanctum sanctorum after 11 circumambulations. The Temple flag is then lowered signifying the end of the festival.

Vishu :
The Malayali New Year day, Vishu, falls on the 1st of *Medam* month (mid-April). One’s fortunes for the year depends on the auspiciousness of the objects that one sees first at dawn on this day. Accordingly a *kani* (omen) consisting of *konna* flowers , raw rice, gold, betel leaves and nuts, yellow cucumber and coins, are so arranged in front of the *Ishta-Deva* in the previous night itself, so that one sees them at first glimpse on waking up in the morning. Seeing the *kani* at Guruvayur is very auspicious and hence millions of devotees stay overnight, blindfold themselves and set their eyes on the *Kani* and the glorious Bhagavan as the doors are as usual opened for the dharshan at 3 a.m.

Vaishka:
The lunar month from the day following the new moon of *Medam* (April-May) to the following new moon. The observance of austerities or ‘Vratha’ during this month is especially sacred to Vishnu.

Ashtami Rohini :
In the month of *Chingam* (July-Aug), under the *Rohini Nakshatra*, on the 8th day of the waning moon of Sravana is the day of Bhagavan Krishna’s birth i.e. Janmashtami. A very special day in all Sri Krishna temples, Guruvayur Devaswom itself offer a niramala (full of garlands and vilakku), devotees flock in with *Appam* (Cakes of rice paste and jaggery) considered the most favourite food of Bhagavan on that day.

Kuchela’s Day :
This is observed on the first Wednesday of *Dhanu* (December-January). Kuchela was a poverty-stricken Brahmin , a childhood friend and a great devotee of Bhagavan Krishna. One day, he went to seek Krishna’s help, at the insistence of his wif . He carried with him a small gift of parched rice to offer his friend. On reaching Dwaraka, he was not only welcomed warmly by Krishna, and made to feel at home, but was also asked what he had brought for him. Bhagavan blessed him with great prosperity! 

Other important festivals: Mandalam, Ekadasi, Chembai music festival & Narayaneeyam day.

Guruvayoor Mahatmas
The famous Mahatmas who received the vision of Bhagavan Krishna at Guruvayoor are , Sankaracharya, Melpattur Narayana Bhattathiri, Poonthanam Namboodiri, Vilvamangalam Swamiyar, Kururamma , Prince Manadevan and Kudallur Kunjikkavu Namboodiri .

1. SANKARACHARYA
Once Sankaracharya was on an aerial journey to Shringeri. While above Guruvayoor temple he smiled at the procession of *Sreebhootha Bali* (feeding celestial attendants) and tried to pass the temple ignoring Bhagavan. Suddenly he came crashing down and the procession stopped there at the northwest corner. He soon recovered and saw Bhagavan Krishna in all his royalty. Realizing the cause of his fall, Sankaracharya prostrated before Bhagavan and eulogized Him by chanting eight slokas in praise of Govinda, known as Govinda Ashtakam. The small opening in the roof over the North- West courtyard is in commemoration of this event. As advised by Bhagavan Krishna, Sankaracharya had done 41 days *Bhajanam* at Guruvayoor temple. During this period, He established the specific code of *Guruvayoor Kshetra-Acharas* ( temple traditions). The tradition of *Mandala Vilakku* (lighting of lamps for 41days) was initiated by him.

2. MELPATHUR NARAYANA BHATTATHIRI.
He was born in Melpathur Brahmin-house near Tirunavaya. He was affected with paralysis and searched for a remedy. Ezhuthachan, the famous Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar told him - "Start with fish)". Bhattathiri took it in the proper sense decided to present the various incarnations of Bhagavan MahaVishnu starting with the fish, as narrated in the Bhagavatham in a series of *Dasakas* ( Groups of ten slokas). He reached Guruvayoor temple and started composing one *Dasaka* a day in front of the Moorty. The refrain in last *Sloka* of every *Dasaka* is a prayer to Bhagavan to remove the ailments and sufferings. He composed his work in one hundred *Dasakas* on the *Kali* day. This work is known as *NARAYANEEYAM* after which he recovered fully and regained happiness. *Narayaneeyam* is in praise of Guruvayoor Bhagavan. *Narayaneeyam* is the condensation of *Maha Bhagavatham* and its parayana (reading) confers definite benefits ; it is an effective faith therapy. It makes one pure Krishna-bhakt, it concerns mainly about our present life - Aarogyam (health and freedom from diseases) and saukhyam (happiness). At Guruvayur temple, *Narayaneeyam* is of utmost importance. No work of this magnitude has ever been dedicated and addressed to the Deity of any other temple. It provides the Bhakta an opportunity to visualise and worship Bhagavan Krishna by reading it or listening to its rendition. It will shine and conjure up at Guruvayur in the heart of posterity. The *Narayaneeyam* Day is celebrated every year in Guruvayoor temple.

3. POONTHANAM NAMBOODIRI.
Poonthanam and Melpathur were contemporaries. Poonthanam was the family name. He married a heiress at 20, but for a long time, they had no children. Poonthanam began to propitiate the Lord of Guruvayoor, and a son was born to him in 1586. He called for a celebration and everybody known was invited, but the child died an hour before the ceremony. Grief-stricken Poonthanam sought refuge at Guruvayur and started praying with the puranic story of *Kumaraharanam*. Gradually Poonthanam became enlightened and realized " While little Krishna is dancing in our hearts, why do we need little ones of our own?". On several occasions he was blessed with the divine vision of Sree Krishna. *Jnanappana* and the song *Anjana Sreedara…* were written by Poonthanam with the help of Bhagavan. Poonthanam spent the rest of his life of 90 odd years reading the Bhagavatham and singing the Lord's glories in simple Malayalam. He composed many devotional hymns in praise of Bhagavan.

4. VILLWAMANGALAM SWAMIYAR.
Villwamangalam is the family name. He was a wandering saint. He was blessed him with the miraculous gift of seeing Bhagavan in person as distinguished from the Moorty. He spotted Sree Krishna many times inside Guruvayoor shrine.

5. KUROORAMMA.
Kurooramma was a childless widow and settled in Guruvayoor as a devotee. Thanks to Vilwamangalam's guidance, she adopted Unnikrishna of Guruvayur as her son; and Bhagavan arrived at her house as a small Brahmin kid. Kuruooramma treated the kid as her own son , fondling him, playing with him, chiding him when he became naughty and weeping at his childish freaks. The devotional song of *Kani kanum neram* was composed by her.

6. MANAVEDAN.
Prince Manavedan of Calicut was born in 1595 and had early education in Sanskrit. Later he became the disciple of Villwamangalam. With his devotion to Bhagavan and guidance of Villwamangalam, he saw the Bhagavan as Unnikrishna, standing under the Elajhi tree on the way from the Palace to Guruvayoor temple. The present koothambalam is located at this spot. The Prince wrote a series of eight dramas for Krishnanattam. The Krishnanattam began to be staged in the temple regularly as an offering to Guruvayoorappan. Thus the dance-drama, Krishnanattam, became yet another medium to spread the fame of Guruvayoor all over Kerala.

7. KUDALLUR KUNJHIKKAVU NAMBOODIRI.
Kunjhikkavu was known as Raman in his childhood. He learnt Puranas through his mother's daily parayana (recitation) of Bhagavatham and Ramayanam and learnt Sanskrit on his own. He formerly began his *purana-parayana* in his home and slowly become famous as a mystic-devotee. Very often he forgot this real world, he looked at every women he met as a Gopi of Vrindavanam. He started circumambulating and prostrating before everyone including animals. He used to take whatever he wanted from *Sri kovil*. The particular place in Guruvayoor temple where he used to sit for *purana-parayana* is still known as
*Kunjhikkavu's corner*.

8. MALLIYOOR SANKARAN NAMBOODIRI.
*Bhagavata-Hamsam* Brahmasri Malliyoor Shankaran Namboodiri is a living Legend of Krishna-bhakti. He was born on 02 February 1921 as the eldest son of Parameswaran Namboodiri and Arya Antarjanam, in the Vedic brahmin family, Malliyoor. He was sick by birth. Severe illnesses and extreme poverty made his childhood miserable. In spite of all these miseries, he grew up as a loyal Krishnabhakta. The poor parents some how managed to provide him Vedic education. The traditional *Brahmana-upanayanam* (initiation) was performed at the age of (8) followed by “Samavartanam” before he was (14). Brahmasri Malliyoor started working as a temple-Pujari. Being a scholar in Srimad Bhagavatam, he later dedicated own life to *Bhagavata katha-kathanam* ( ritual narration of Bhagavatam-stories ). Bhagavan Himself presented a book of Bhagavatam to Sankaran Namboodiri. His “Bhagavatam-nectar” quickly gained immense popularity among Krishna-bhaktas. Later, Malliyoor initiated “Bhagavata-SaptAham” movement in Vedic temples, which practically “Bhagavatised” Kerala. Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedas; and it is called “adhyAthmadeepa”, the light of the self. It is beneficial to the whole humanity, and removes the three kinds of miseries, namely “Adhidaivika” (calamities due to karma or fate), “Adhibouthika”, (obstacles due to other beings), and “adhyAthma” (troubles that come from one's own nature). It is a fact that, when one wishes to read or hear Bhagavathm, Bhagavan Sri Krishna appears in his heart. Sage Suka narrated Bhagavatam to king Parikshit in seven days. On the first day, it was till “varahavathara” , on second day till “ jatabharatha” episode,
on the third till “amrthamathanam”, on the fourth till “krishnavathara”, on the fifth till “Rukminikalyanam”, on the sixth day it was till “uddhavasamvAdha” and the last day Bhagavatam was finished. This practice to read Bhagavatham in the same order for seven days is known as BhagavatasapthAham. Brahmasri Malliyoor and disciples have successfully completed several thousands of *BhagavatasapthAhams* feeding the nectar of Krishna-Bhakti to millions of devotees. The numerous titles bestowed on Brahmasree Malliyoor include *Bhagavata-Hamsam* ( By Guruvayoor Bhagavata Vijanana Samiti) and *Bhagavataseva-Ratnam* (Guruvayoor temple’s Janamashtami-award. The Head of Kanchi Matha personally came to present this). Malliyoor’s family-deity is *Beeja-Ganapati* in the very ancient stone-carved temple. Since more than (50) years Brahamasree Malliyoor has been reciting Bhagavatam keeping a salagramam in front of temple’s Presiding Deity Ganapati. It is a very rare practice to worship one’s *Ishta-Devata* in front of another Deity. However, Malliyoor did this to fulfill His obligations towards His “family-deity Ganapti” and His own *Ishta-Devata, Sri Krishna*. The result of the above ‘atmic-sadhana’ was a miracle. Vedic Brahmanas and Vedic-Jyotishis have found in this Ganapati-Deity an extremely rare superimposition of *Krishna –Chaitanyam*. Hence this Deity has become a unique *Vaishnava-Ganapati*. In spite of His exalted status as the top Vaishnava-Acharya in Kerala, Brahmasri Malliyoor Malliyoor is a picture of humility and compassion. The ever smiling Acharya feeds everyone who visits Him is absolutely free from materialism. In the true Vaishnava tradition, He imbibed in both of His sons (Paramseswaran Namboodiri and Divakaran Namboodiri) “Bhagavata-dharma” and both of them are assisting Him in *BhagavatasapthAhams*

HOW TO REACH GURUVAYOOR
By Air: Guruvayoor is situated at a distance of 80 km from the Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) and 100 km from Calicut (Kozhikode) airport. All major international flight services operate from these airports.
By Rail: The Guruvayoor Railway Station is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. Those coming from the Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram side can get down at Thrissur. From Thrissur Railway Station, there are regular bus services to Guruvayoor.
By Road: Guruvayoor is well connected with the other parts of the country by road. Both the
KSRTC bus stand and Private Bus stand are about 500metres from the temple.
Om Shree Gurupavanapuradheesaya ShreeKrishnaya Parabrahmane Namah!
Om Namo Narayanaya!!!