Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nabidinam

Prophet  Mohammed's birthday 'Eid-e-Milad' is observed and celebrated in  the state as 'Nabidinam'.It has turned to be a significant celebration after Ramzan and Bakrid. 
Mosques,Dargahs and Madrasas are all decorated with colour bulbs,green flags and banners on this occasion.Reciting 'Maulod', a book containing versus and prose describing about events in the life of the Prophet is recited during this period.Day and night classes (Milad prabhashana parampara) are held at Mosques like 'Palayam Juma Masjid,Thiruvanathapuram' from the  beginning of this Islamic Calendar month in which scholars speak about the teachings of the Prophet.The speakers  urge the audience to perform only good deeds for the welfare of the society.
                           
Processions are held in many places followed by public meeting on the 'Nabidinam' day.People belonging to other religions also participates in these meetings which strengthens the religious harmony prevailing in Kerala.In many parts of the State, food items,provisions etc are distributed as charity for the needful people.
Nabidinam is on 24th December 2015.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Vaikunta Ekadasi / Swargavathil Ekadasi

Swargavathil Ekadasi or Vaikunta Ekadasi is the eleventh day in the waxing phase of the Lunar cycle in the Malayalam month of 'Dhanu' (Margazhy in Tamil) which usually will be in December every year.This auspicious day is observed with great devotion to Lord Vishnu by all Hindus in India especially from South Indian States.There are 108 very famous 'Maha Vishnu' temples in India which are known as the abodes of Lord Vishnu, and most of these temples are situated in Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh,Kerala etc and in such temples 'Vaikunta Ekadasi' is celebrated in a grand manner.
It is believed that on this day the 'Door of the Heaven' will be opened for all those who prays to  the Lord Maha Vishnu.Symbolically there is a door in all famous Maha Vishnu temples which is called as 'Swarga Vathil' (in Malayalam), and also as 'Paramapada Vasal' , 'Vaikunta Dwaram' etc which will be opened only on this day in an year and allows devotees to go through it.Devotees who pass  through 'Vaikunta Dwaram' (Swarga Vathil')  will attain 'Moksham' (Salvation) is the belief.Those who prays to Lord Vishnu with deep devout on this day  could also attain salvation and hence people observe 'Vaikunta Ekadasi' which is known as 'Swargavathil Ekadasi' in Kerala and 'Mukkoti Ekadasi' in some other places.This day is also famous as 'Mokshada Ekadasi' which helps free the soul from taking rebirths.
                     

There are twenty four Ekadasi days in an year and it is the eleventh day which comes after 'New Moon' and 'Full Moon' and hence two Ekadasi are there in every month.On this day it is believed that Lord Vishnu killed an 'Asura' by name 'Mura' who was possessing several magical powers who used to torture humans and celestial beings.He was hiding in a paddy grain when Maha Vishnu set out to kill him.Many ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu and most of the 'Vaishnavites' observe fasting on all the twenty four Ekadasi days in an year which will provide blessings and favours from the Lord.
Many people observe fasting only on the 'Vaikunta Ekadasi Day' due to their hectic life style now a days.
                        
For observing Vaikunta Ekadasi the devotees has to wake up early morning and has to take bath.Then they lights up an oil lamp and prays to Lord Vishnu.Reciting 'Vishnu Sahasra Namam' etc and/or chanting 'Om Namo Narayana'  are usually done.Visit a nearby Vishnu temple or any other temple if possible.Chant 'Om Namo Narayanaya' as many times as possible during the day and night on Swargavathil Ekadasi.Complete 'Upavasam'(fasting) is performed for 24 hours by deep devotees who are able to do it.









People who are having health problems need not do complete fasting and have to  consult a doctor prior to that.Some devotees just  avoids  rice on 'Ekadasi days' but consume other foods.Some others eat only one time meal and they also avoid rice.Only vegetarian food should be eaten if food is a must  and keep away from all worldly pleasures.Evening also they have to take bath and do the prayers.Visit nearby temple and participate in the rituals if possible.Keeping awake at night is followed by deep devotees.Next day morning after daily bath and morning prayers  by drinking holy water the observance can be stopped.In many Vishnu temples there will be special 'Pooja' and other rituals on this day.In most of these temples there will be  stage programs arranged during night  which helps the devotees to keep awake the whole night.
                        
At Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvanathapuram, 'Swargavathil Ekadasi' is highly auspicious.All the lights will be lit on this day in and around the temple.Large number of devotees attend the rituals and pass through the 'Swarga Vathil' which opens on that day in this temple.
At temples like 'Thirupathi Sree Venkitachalapathy Swamy  temple' , 'Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple' Sreerangam,'Aadi Kesava Perumal temple' Kanyakumari district etc devotees throng in large numbers to attend the 'Pooja' rituals on Vaikunta Ekadasi day.
This year 'Vaikunta Ekadasi/ Swargavathl Ekadasi' is on 21st December 2015.  
   

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sree Chakkulathukavu Devi Temple and Pongala Festival

Sree Chakkulathukavu Devi Temple is a very famous Hindu temple dedicated to  Goddess Durga Devi(Goddess Kali,Mother of the Universe)
                            










 which is situated at 'Neerattupuram' on the border of Patthanamthitta District and Alappuzha District.The temple stands at Neerattupuram junction and rivers Pampa and Manimala flows on either sides of this temple and the place itself is a lovely beautiful one.
Neerattupuram is 92 km from Cochin International Airport and 95 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.Thiruvalla and Chengannur are the nearby major Railway Stations.Buses are available from Chengannur and Thiruvalla to Neerattupuram and Chakkulathukavu.From Thiruvalla the temple is only 9 km away and frequent buses are available from KSRTC Thiruvalla Bus Station to Chakkulathukavu.
                             

This temple dates back to about 3000 years and the legend is that the self manifested 'Swayambhu' idol in a linga form  of the Devi was consecrated by 'Sage Narada'.
The temple has earned tremendous popularity during the past fifty years and millions of devotees visit this temple every year to seek the blessings of the Devi.Chakkulathukavu temple was renovated in 1981.
Devotees belonging to any Caste, creed and color  are allowed to enter this temple to perform pooja rituals and the Devi bestows blessings to all those approaches her.Devotees call the deity lovingly as 'Chakkulathamma' considering her as the mother of the Universe.It is said that 'Chakkulathamma' loves children very much and bestows blessings for their overall prosperity.Devotees bring their children also while visiting this temple.
This temple has similarities to Attukal Devi temple of Thiruvanathapuram since this temple is also called as 'Sabarimala of Women' as in the case of Attukal temple.The 'Pongala Festival' of Chakkulathukavu Temple  has also earned worldwide popularity as 'Attukal Pongala' and the number of participants are increasing every year.
                            
At Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathi Temple Lord Vinayaka,Lord Shiva,Lord Vishnu,Sastha,Murukan,Serpent Gods,Navagrahas etc are Sub Deities.
Ganapathy Homam,Archana,Pushpanjali,Raktha Puspanjali,Navagraha Pooja,Kumkuma Pooja,Chowa Pooja,Muzhukkappu,Kadum Payasam,Kalabha Abhishekam,Karthika Pooja,Mrityunjaya Pooja etc are some of the rituals and Offerings available for devotees to perform at this temple.
All Hindu festivals are auspicious at this temple also and are celebrated.
The first Fridays of every Malayalam month is very important and special ceremonies are performed on that day.Drugs and liquor addicts can save themselves from that habit by making an oath by touching the sword of the 'Devi' on that day.It is a fact that they could not continue that bad habit any more in their life.
'Thrikkarthika Festival' in the Malayalam month of 'Vrichikam' is well celebrated in this temple.That day is the 'Festival of Lights' celebrated by the Hindus by decorating their houses and premises with small oil lamps.
It is the birthday of 'Devi' is the belief.On Thrikkarthika Day the 'Pongala Festival' at Chakkulathukavu Devi temple is performed by millions of women devotees.
For the 'Pongala ' women devotees prepare sweet rice in earthen pots at open places and offer to Devi.Rice,Grated Coconut and Jaggery are mainly cooked as 'Naivedyam' (Offering) to the Devi by arranging hearths made of bricks at open grounds and roadsides  leading to the temple.The number of participants has increased tremendously and now a days the array of 'Pongala Pots' on either side of the roads are extended to about 50 km around the temple.Other than sweetened rice devotees may  prepare some more  sweet items like 'Therali' and offer to Devi.
By these offerings  the devotees are blessed by the Devi and their griefs,misfortunes and sufferings are removed or lessened and Devi will guide them to a more happier life.
The 'Chakkulathukavu Pongala' of this year is on November 25,Wednesday 2015.
On this day there are some celebrations at the temple such as 'Laksha Deepam'  and 'Karthika Pillar'.
                             
An arecanut tree erected at the temple premises covered with straw,plantain dry leaves and such materials are set to fire as a symbol of eradicating evil and this ceremony is known as 'Karthika Pillar'.
The temple and premises will be then  decorated with more than one lakh small oil lamps as symbolic of spreading wisdom and prosperity.This will be a splendid sight and it is known as 'Laksha Deepam' which are performed on 'Thrikkarthika Day' at this temple.By shredding away the devilish thoughts and evils from one's mind, the brightness of wisdom and goodness enters there which in turn will be fruitful for the whole society that will eventually  glitter with prosperity and joy. 
The annual festival of this temple is in the Malayalam month 'Dhanu'(December).  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Significance of Deepawali

Deepawali is one of the most important festivals which is celebrated all over India and by Hindus residing in other parts of the world.In northern India mostly it is a one week celebration  while in some states like Kerala it is a one day celebration event.North Indian people celebrate it by all family members getting together, wear new clothes,makes variety of dishes and sweets,visits neighbors and friends,distribute sweets and gifts to friends and relatives,lit oil lamps in and around the house,decorate the house and illuminate it with color lamps,fire-works add joy to the occasion and so on.
In many states of India their own one   week long celebration resembling the same like Deepawali celebration are there such  as the 'Onam' in Kerala and 'Pongal' in Tamil Nadu.
Deepawali is a festival celebrated in remembrance of devastating the evil.A demon by name 'Narakasura' who was very cruel and fierce created much harm to all humans and Lord Krishna in the presence of one of his  consort 'Sathyabhama' killed him on a 'Chathurdasi day' of this month.The 'Krishna paksha' Chathurdasi day of Malayalam month 'Thulam' is celebrated as 'Deepawali' in Kerala and it falls on 10th November 2015 this year.This day is the prime day of Deepawali celebration all over India.
Deepawali is mentioned in 'Purana' texts like 'Skantha Purana' and 'Padma Purana'.It is mentioned  as Lord Mahadeva describing the importance of Deepawali to his son Lord Subramanya.
Another legend about Deepawali is that it was the day Lord Sree Rama reached Ayodhya Kingdom along with Seetha and Lakshman after Killing Ravan in a furious war fought at Sree Lanka.People greeted the Young Prince who was returning after an exile period of fourteen years with great joy  by firing crackers,decorating their houses and streets with oil lamps and flowers,distributing sweets and so on.
In both these legends the incarnations of Lord Mahavishnu 'Sree Rama' and Sree Krishna' are  revered and in both cases it is the victory of goodness over evil.
The significance of  Deepawali, Onam,Pongal and such   festivals like 'Bakrid', 'Easter' all shows us lessons of  brotherhood,togetherness,unity etc.In all these festivals people enjoy it joining  together as a group. They visit friends and relatives,share their happiness,exchange gifts and sweets etc.Such godly acts should not be confined for festivities only but one has to practice it throughout  their life.

In Deepawali the oil  lamps are symbolic such that it removes the darkness of arrogance and ignorance from one's mind which are  'devilish' and allows the light of wisdom to enter there.The distribution of sweets is symbolic in a sense that when one achieve the heights of success and enjoy the sweetness of life, teasing and criticizing the less fortunate kith and kin and close friends  is devilish evil act. Help them to have some sweetness in their life also by your good deeds or kind words  instead.
In Kerala Deepawali is celebrated for one day only and people makes sweets and feast (Sadya) on this day.They used to visit the nearby temple after an 'Oil Bath' in the early morning.
Early morning 'Oil Bath' is very important on Deepawali Day.Apply oil profusely all over the body and on the head and take a bath in the pond,River or Lake if possible in the early morning itself.Bathing can be done in the bath


room  also.The belief is that on the early hours of that day Goddess Mahalakshmy will have her presence in the oil and Goddess Ganga Devi have her presence in the waters and the devotee would get their blessings.It is believed that the oil bath in the early morning on that day would get blessings from the Gods to  even ward off fatal accidents and untimely death for that person for an year.    

Monday, November 2, 2015

' Vrat ' on Ayilyam Day

As per the beliefs, tradition and custom the Hindus of Kerala has the reverence of Snake Gods also.There is a separate part in most Hindu temples of Kerala  where  idols of Snake Gods such as 'Naga Raja', 'Naga Yakshi' etc are consecrated.There are Snake temples at 'Mannarasala,Vetticottu,Pambinmekadu etc where the main deities are Snake Gods.
Most of the Hindus do not kill or do any harm to snakes deliberately because it is considered as a sin.The belief is that if any harm to snakes is done the sin known as 'Sarpa Dosham' will be affected.If Snakes are killed or their eggs destroyed, they will curse which is known as 'Sarpa Sapam'.These kinds of sins may have adverse effects in one's life which can block their prosperity,they may suffer from chronic ailments which will not be cured by medicines,they may worry because of childlessness and so on.There are proper spiritual remedies to get relieved from the bad effects of such 'Sarpa Dosham'.The accursed person and his family members also may be victims of such sins which might have happened without their knowledge or might have  transformed from one generation to another.
                             
There are so many people who think these are all superstitions and ignore them but when such problems happen in their life, they change their mind and approach an astrologer to check out and find remedies.In most cases the reason would be 'Sarpa Sapam' and 'Sarpa Dosham'.
There are small groves known as 'Sarpa Kavu' in many traditional family compounds in Kerala which many of them are kept neglected at present.This can also be reason for 'Sarpa Dosham'.
To get some relief from the 'Sarpa Sapam' and Sarpa Dosham' observing  'Vrat' on the most auspicious day of the year for snakes which is 'Ayilyam' star day in the Malayalam month of 'Thulam'(Oct 15-Nov 15) is considered beneficial.
This day is a celebration day in all Snake temples especially at 'Mannarasala Snake temple' which is near Harippad in Kerala and at 'Nagercoil Snake temple' which is in Tamil Nadu State.Visiting any of  these temples on that day and attending the special Pooja rituals will be highly fruitful for the devotees suffering from such problems.
This year 'Thulam Ayilayam' is on 4th November 2015.For observing the



'Vrat'(Vratham,Penance or Continence) the devotee has to avoid non vegetarian food and keep away from all intoxicating materials as well as worldly pleasures from the previous day itself.
On the 'Vratham' day the devotee has to do complete fasting is most appropriate.Visiting a nearby temple in the morning and evening and circling round  the snake deities three times is advised.Keep all emotions under control and keep the body and mind pure.Indulge in only good deeds and concentrate the mind upon God.Chant the sacred mantra  'Om Nama Shivaya' as much as possible on those two days.
Fasting is meant for getting more concentration upon God and for those who find it very difficult to avoid food and water may consume water.Some others and patients may consume milk or fruits.Praying God with a devout mind is intended by 'Acharyas'(Gurus) by performing such 'Vrathams'.
By drinking 'theertham' from a temple or purified water the 'Vrat' can be stopped next day morning.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

' Vidyarambham ' Ceremony

In Kerala 'Vijaya Dasami' day is the 'Vidyarambham Day' on which the little children are initiated into the world of studies and Knowledge. The name of this  ceremony in Malayalam is  'Ezhuthiniruthu'.The children starts to write alphabets from this time on wards.The first alphabets of Malayalam language 'Hari Shree' will be written on the tongue of the child using gold by an eligible 'Acharya/Guru' and he will assist and guide the child by holding his/her right hand finger to write some Malayalam  alphabets in raw rice kept in a plate or 'Uruli'( a bronze vessel).
The morning hours of the 'Vijayadasami' day witness huge rush in famous temples and many other centers where the 'Vidyarambham' ceremony is held.At many publication houses of News papers,Magazines etc,some Popular clubs, Libraries etc also  organize Vidyarambham ceremony and employs highly educated and  well known scholars and dignitaries as 'Gurus' to provide the first lessons of knowledge to the kids.
There is a habit of selecting a most suitable time for all auspicious matters among the people and generally for 'Vidyarambham' most of the parents do not seek any particular  'muhurtham' for this purpose but utilize the forenoon of this day.
                          
If the parents are very much keen to select a proper day as according to astrological factors to give Vidyarambam to their child they may consult an Astrologer.Mostly on 'Vijayadasami' day  the star will be 'Thiruvonam'  and it may not be suitable for a child born with the  birth star as 'Thiruvonam'.
This year Vijayadasami falls on 'Avittam Star' and a child born with this star may use another day for 'Vidyarambham' if the parents  are very much concerned about these facts.Some other factors are also taken into account by Astrologers for selecting the day/time  and also for selecting  the suitable 'Guru'.
The age of the child as per astrology  must be an  odd number.He/she should be of the  age 3 or 5 (not 2,4 or 6).
If a proper Guru/Acharya is not available,either  the Father or Uncle are most eligible to provide Vidyarambham to the kids.
                          
At Panachikkadu Saraswathi Devi  temple, Mookambika Devi temple and at many other Saraswathi Devi  temples 'Vidyarambham' can be given to the child on any day of the year other than 'Durgashtami day and Mahanavami day'.

Dakshina Murthy temples are well suited for giving 'Vidyarambham' to the child.
In many Shiva temples there are separate idols of 'Dakshina Murthy' who is another form of Lord Shiva.Dakshina Murthy is an Ocean of knowledge who clears the doubts of Mookambika Devi also is the belief.Providing 'Vidyarambham' to kids where there is 'Dakshina Murthy' idol would be beneficial.
                           
At Vaikom Mahadeva temple, the deity is worshiped as Dakshina Murthy in the mornings, as 'Kiratha Murthy' in the noon and as  'Sachithananda Murthy' in the evenings.
                             
This same practice is  followed at Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple at Mavelikkara and at Chendamangalam Puthiya Thrikkovil where the deity is worshiped as Dakshina Murthy in the mornings till  noon.Performing 'Vidyarambham' in these temples on 'Vijaya Dasami' day will be auspicious.
There is a  Dakshina Murthy temple at 'Sukapuram' in Eadappal Taluk of Malappuram District which is very famous.

Parents can provide  'Vidyarambham' at any  temple or at  any  Center  suitable as per  their choice and need not  think seriously about the astrological matters. They may 'initiate the learning process' ('Vidyarambham') on Vijayadasami day which is the 'Victory Day' with deep devotion and prayers for their Kids at any centers they prefer or even in their own  homes.
May Dakshina Murthy and Saraswathi Devi  shower their blessings on  the tiny 'Knowledge aspirants'.




                         




.   


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Navarathri Festival at Thiruvananthapuram

According to  the  Hindu belief Goddess Saraswathi Devi is the deity for Learning,Wisdom,Arts,Literature etc.Saraswathi Devi temples are comparatively less in India than temples of  other deities.But since all Goddesses are separate forms of the same 'Mother  Goddess'  'Aadi Parasakthi' the celebration 'Navarathri' has much importance in all   'Devi' temples especially in temples of  'Parvathi,Lakshmi and Saraswathi'.Navarathri festival is also  well celebrated in Devi temples of 'Bhadrakali,Durga' etc.
                             
 In Kerala more importance is given to Saraswathi Devi for Navarathri festival which is celebrated every year for nine days.'Vidyarambham' which is the initiation of studies for the kids is done on the 'Vijayadasami' day of Navarathri  in Kerala.This year 'Vijayadasami' day is on 23rd October 2015.Elder people prefer 'Vijayadasami' day to start learning something new and  important in their life; for example  classical art forms like 'Bharathanatyam,Kathakali' etc  or anything which requires good skill and intelligence.They all seek the blessings of Saraswathi Devi in this regard. 

Every year at Thiruvanathapuram 'Navarathri Festival' is celebrated in a unique way as per the traditional custom followed from the time of Maharajahs.For the Navarathri festival at Thiruvananthapuram, the Idol of 'Sarswathi Devi' from Padmanabhapuram 'Thevarakettu Temple', another deity  'Munnootti Nanka Devi' from 'Sucheendram temple' of Sucheendram in Kanyakumari District and yet another deity  'Lord Kumara Swamy (Lord Subramanya Swamy) of Kumara Kovil in Kanyakumari District are brought to Thiruvanathapuram in a procession and taken back after the ten day celebration.This practice was started when the Capital of Travancore Kingdom was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram from Padmanabhapuram.
                            

'Sage Kambar'  was a famous scholar who  had in possession with  this 'Saraswathi Devi idol' which he worshiped.He gave it to a Chera King which ultimately reached in possession of 'Venad' Kings.It is at present worshiped  at 'Thevarakettu temple' of 'Padmanabhapuram Palace' where the Venad Kings were residing. Marthanda Varma Maharajah extended Venad Kingdom and  formed the 'Kingdom of Travancore'.  Later in 19th century the Capital was shifted to Thiruvanathapuram, and for the Navarathri festival  the custom of bringing these deities to the new capital city  was started.The 'Moola Vigraham' (Original Idol) of Saraswathi Devi is brought and a lighted lamp will be kept in its position at the sanctum of 'Thevarakettu temple' during those days.
Saraswathi Devi idol will be placed at the 'Navarathri Mandapam' situated near the eastern entrance of the  Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.Pooja rituals are done for the Devi at that place for those ten days and the public can worship her on those days at the 'Mandapam'.For the first three days 'Devi' will be worshiped as 'Saraswathi' next three days as 'Lakshmi' and the last three days as 'Durga'(Parvathy).
Every day 'Carnatic Music Concert' is held at the 'Navarathri Mandapam' and compositions by 'Maharajah Swathi Thirunal' will be given prime importance in them.
  'Keerthanams'(Carnatic Classical Devotional Songs) written and composed by the Maharajah in 'ragas' such as 'Sankarabharanam,Kalyani,Saveri,Thodi,Bhairavi,Panthuvarali,Sudha Saveri,Nattukurinji and Arabhi' are sung one each for the nine days and on the tenth day 'Mangalam' will be sung.'Keerthanams' of other composers are also sung in the concerts.
'Munnootti Nanka Devi' is none other than 'Parvathi Devi' and her idol is kept and worshiped at 'Chenthitta Devi temple' and 'Kumara Swamy' idol is worshiped at 'Aryasala  temple' on these days.Subramanya Swamy's idol is brought on a 'Silver Horse' which is centuries old from Padmanabhapuram  and it is also displayed at Aryasala temple during these days.
                        
The deities will be taken back to their respective places on the 12th day in a colorful procession as same as the one in which they were brought to Thiruvanathapuram.
This year the procession started from Padmanabhapuram Palace on 11th October 2015 and reached Thiruvanathapuram on 13th evening.The procession back to Padmanabhpuram will start on 25th October.
At Thiruvananthapuram there are Saraswathi Devi temples at 'Poojappura Saraswathi Mandapam' and at 'Vattiyoorkavu Arappura Eeswari Amman Kovil' where this festival is celebrated with all its charm.'Carnatic Classical'







music concerts are held at 'Poojappura Saraswathi Mandapam' also during these days.

Navarathri festival has much importance in other  famous Devi temples of Thiruvananthapuram such as 'Attukal Devi temple,Pazhanchira Devi temple,Karikkakam Devi temple' etc also.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Panachikkadu Saraswathi Devi Temple

 The  most important Saraswathi Temple in India will be 'Mookambika Devi Temple' at Kollur near Uduppi in Karnataka State.The most important Saraswathi Temple in Kerala will be  Panachikkadu  Saraswathi Devi Temple  near Chingavanam at Eravinalloor,Panachikkad  in Kottayam District.This temple is also known as 'Dakshina Mookambika temple' and Vishnu is the main deity.Worshipers visit Lord Vishnu before worshiping Saraswathi Devi as per the custom.
The Deity Saraswathi Devi who is the Goddess of Arts and learning is blessing large number of devotees that visits  this temple everyday for more than  one thousand years.
Panachikkadu Saraswathi temple is 4 km from Chingavanam and 11 km from Kottayam town.
There is a story regarding the origin of this Saraswathi temple.1000 years ago a Nampoothiri Brahmin who hailed from a respected  Illam (House) which was known as 'Kizhupurathillam' was sad that he was not having a child.He wanted to go to Gaya(Kasi) to pray for this intention but on the way halted at Mookambika Temple for one year attending all the rituals there.All the time he was chanting prayers of Saraswathy Devi.One year passed and one day in his dream Goddess  Saraswathi Devi appeared and told him that he would not get a son of his own even if he go to Kasi and so adviced him to go back.
He was told that a pregnant woman at his native place hailing from the house  'Karunattillam' would give birth to twins and if he    requested she would   give him one baby.

So Nampoothiri returned back and visited that 'Karunattillam' and told them about the dream.They promised to give the Brahmin one child after  the woman's delivery .While going back happily  to his house he thought of visiting the Vishnu temple on the way.Old Brabmin  kept his palm leaf umbrella on the bank of the temple pond and took bath in the pond.After taking bath when he tried to take back his umbrella he found that it got fixed to the ground.He was not able to move it or take it up from there.Mean while a Sanyasi Saint came that way.He revealed the fact that Goddess Saraswathy's presence was  on the Umbrella which could be transferred to an idol which would bring prosperity to all.The saint himself  found   an old idol from  the nearby hillock.

The Devi's power on the umbrella was transferred to the idol.The Saint instructed not to do  pooja rituals on that idol but suggested to do those rituals on an  idol that he  kept opposite to it .This practice was followed in the temple which is continuing even now. 
Soon the original idol was covered with  peculiar creeper plants and for centuries it is remaining in that state.The original idol can not be seen.The leaves of the creeper plants cover it.Natural spring water flows from there and will not dries up even in summer.The water required for the temple purposes  is collected from there.
The main Deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu and other sub deities 'Lord Ganesha,Lord Shiva, are also in the temple. Much importance is given to 'Yakshi Amma' here.Those who come to the temple for worship should visit her shrine also.


If a devotee  could participate in all the pooja rituals held in this temple continuously   for 12 days and repeat this process   for another two more years Devi would grant them blessings  to the fullest and make all  their desires fulfilled is a belief.
But only very few can complete  this process for three consecutive  years because of unforeseen obstacles
Navaratri festival is celebrated with much importance in this temple during which thousands of devotees will be arriving.Exponents as well as  students of various art forms come to perform their art forms in front of  Saraswathi Devi to get her blessings for more perfection.
'Vidyarambham' (Initiation of studies of small children) for very large number of children are carried out on Vijaya Dasami Day.Since this is a powerful Saraswathi Temple every day "Vidyarambham' can be done here except two days 'Durgashtami' and 'Mahanavami'  in an year.
'Saaraswatha Ghritham' which is ghee processed with several Ayurvedic herbs is
kept for pooja at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi Devi and distributed to the devotees for a small price.It nourishes the brain of children and  boost their intelligence and memory power.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bakrid Celebration in Kerala

In Kerala people belonging to the three main religious communities here such as 'Hindus,Muslims and Christians' live in harmony sharing their happiness and sorrows together.There are no communal riots or disputes in the state.In this state festivals like Onam,Bakrid and Christmas are  celebrated by all the sectors of the society alike and together.
The religious rites of the festivals may be followed by the members of that particular community only,  but the festivity of the occasion is shared equally by all.This is the tradition and custom followed by the people of Kerala and it is no wonder that both Christianity and Islam initiated in Kerala prior to any other parts of India.It is the reason that the oldest Church and the  oldest Mosque in India are in Kerala.
Bakrid, the Muslim festival of Sacrifice is well celebrated in all parts of Kerala along with other parts of the world.In Kerala it is officially celebrated for two days this year on 24th and 25th September 2015 but the festive mood may prevail for a longer period among Muslim brothers.The day is celebrated to commemorate God's mercy upon  Prophet Ibrahim and his son. Prophet Ibrahim's faith upon God was proved on this day and God was pleased by his true and deep faith.His readiness to sacrifice his own son was spared by divine intervention and a lamb was sacrificed instead.To commemorate these happenings and to proclaim the mercy and love of God, Bakrid is celebrated in all parts of the World.
In Kerala also on the Bakrid day in the early morning  people goes to the Mosque and to the open prayer grounds arranged for this occasion by wearing new or their best attire.After participating in the prayers and listening to the Imam's Id message, they exchange greetings and hug each other to express the brotherhood.
At the homes celebration continues with happy moments of dancing, singing etc.In the homes sumptuous feasts are prepared including traditional delicacies.Those who live in other parts of India and abroad will try to come home to celebrate this joyous event at their own home with other family members.
People visits their relatives; near and dear and exchange gifts and sweets.In all parts of the state a happy mood of Universal love and compassion will be seen during these days. 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations

The birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated by Hindus all over India and where ever they live and it is known in names such as 'Janmashtami,Srikrishna Jayanthi,Krishna Janmashtami,Gokulashtami,Ashtami Rohini' etc.In Kerala this day is referred by all these names but mostly called as 'Ashtami Rohini'.This Year 'Ashtami Rohini is today, 5th September 2015.
Sri Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu took birth as the son of Vasudevar and Princess Devaki Devi on Ashtami day, which is eighth day after the full moon in the month of 'Shravan', which is the month 'Chingam' according to the Malayalam calendar and it is 'Rohini Star' day.He was born before midnight on that day which was a 'Wednesday'.It is calculated and considered that Sri Krishna was born on 18th July 3228 B.C.
Even though Krishna was born in 'Mathura Kingdom' at the time of the birth itself the child was shifted to 'Gokulam', another place opposite the river Yamuna, to protect him  from King Kamsa who was being  frightened by a prophecy that his sister Devaki's eighth son would kill him.So he kept the couple in a prison and killed all their babies one by one when they were born.But due to the blessing of Lord Vishnu Vasudevar could take the 8th  child to 'Gokulam' where he lived as the son of 'Nanda Gopar' and 'Yasoda'.The main  occupation of that community was cattle rearing.In each and every house of that village there were cows and milk as well as milk products were in abundance.Little Krishna up to his  his teens  performed numerous pranks and mischievous activities mainly to amuse the natives and his friends.He along with his friends used to steal milk products such as butter,curd etc and sweet items from the homes of the villagers and the 'Gopikas'(ladies of Gokulam) always used to complain to Yasoda about her son Krishna  since they knew that little krishna was the leader of the children.
Gopikas used to store the curd,butter,sweets etc in a   shelf system known as 'Uri' in Malayalam which is a swinging shelf made of rope and hung from the ceiling in which three or four pots could be kept.Children had to climb on a chair or some thing of that kind to reach the 'uri'.Some times one of the children would climb on the shoulder of another to reach the uri.
For  'Janmashtami'  celebration  in many parts of India to commemorate the playful activities of little Krishna some of such 'pranks' are enacted.In North India in many parts 'Rasa Leela' dances are performed, and incidents from Krishna's life are enacted.They also play 'Dahi Handi' by which a pot of milk or curd is placed on a tree branch etc and young participants has to take it by climbing on the shoulder of one another.Some times they need to form a tower of participants to reach the height and in that task they many fall which is part of the game and gives fun for the spectators.
In Kerala instead of 'Dahi Handi' a similar game is organised which is known as 'Uriyadi' and conducted all over Kerala in public places which gives amusement for the viewers.A decorated earthen pot containing milk or curd dangling overhead from a rope attached to a pulley which can be lowered or pulled up is broken by participants dressed up as 'Little Krishna'.The participants will have a bamboo stick with them and they play and dance to the tune of percussion instrument 'Chenda'.The pot is lowered and pulled up very fast and also water is poured on the face of participants to thwart their clear vision and to miss the aim.Anyhow one of them will succeed to hit the pot and break it.

On the 'Krishna Jayanthi' day 'Shobha Yatra' is conducted in many places which is a colorful procession in which thousands of children also actively takes part.Boys  are given make-up as Lord Krishna while girls dress up as 'Gopikas'.Many of the children will be depicted as characters of that period such as 'Kamsa,Kuchela,Vasudevar' etc.Beautiful tableaux add charm and splender to the procession and incidents in Lord Krishna's life such as 'Poothana Moksham,Kalia Mardanam,Govardhanodharanam,Vasudevar carrying baby Krishna to Gokulam' etc and scenes such as 'Lord Vishnu sitting on celestial bird Garuda,Anantha Sayanam' are all depicted which add spellbound gaiety  to the procession.
A Snake-boat race is held at Chengannur, near Pandanadu in the river Pampa on this day in which several Snake-boats participates.









    

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.