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.