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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!