Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cherthala Karthyayani temple

Cherthala Karthyayani Temple
By
P.R.Ramachander
Cherthala is a town near Aleppey. There is A Karthyaytani temple there. There is a story
about this temple. It seems Vilawamangalam Sawmiyar was returning after consecrating
Ananthapadmanabha in Trivandrum to Guruvayur. He reached the present Cherthalai and
was taking rest below a Thambaka tree. He noticed several swans swimming in the
several ponds in that place. Suddenly he saw a divine lady swinging in a swing, tied to
the Thambaka tree. . He recognized her as goddess Karthyayani and went near her. Then
she jumped in a nearby pond. Though Vilwamangalathu swamiyar searched for her in the
pond, he could not find her. The next day also he saw her in the same place and this time
she jumped in to a second pond. This happened for six days. On the seventh day, the
swamiyar caught hold of the hair of the Goddess and pulled her. He could only pull her
head (thalai) up to her neck. Also several hairs which he was holding got uprooted. The
seventh tank was full of slushy mud called Cher in Malayalam. Because of this incident
the place was called Cherthalai. (This being a great centre for coir manufacture was also
called Shertalai by the British).The present statue has only the head visible. You can see
these holes from which hairs have been pulled out. So after Abhisheka, this part is the
water is mopped out by using a cloth. Also while doing flower offering to the Goddess,
these parts are covered with cloth. It seems the swamiyar got angry with her because he
was not able to catch her. So, commemorating the event in the month of Edavam (May-
June), the people playfully abuse the goddess in a pooram festival.
The Goddess in the sanctum sanctorum is below the surface level. Outside the temple,
there are separate temples for Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The devotees hand over cock
as an offering to the goddess Karthyayani .So you can find several cocks at this temple.
Near the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess, there are separate temples for Ganapathy and
Lord Dharma Sastha also. Just outside the temple is the place where Vilwamangalam
Swamiyar found her in a swing.
It seems a gandharva was giving lot of trouble to the people around this temple. So the
goddess requested Shastha to teach the gandharva a lesson. Lord Sastha went out side and
killed the Gandharva. When he was returning to the temple, the Goddess asked him to
stay outside itself so that he can protect the people. A separate temple was built there.
The Sastha in this temple is called Kavu udayon(he who has job of security or He who
has a Kavu) . He holds a mace in his hand. People who are in fear or are attacked by evil
spirits make a mace of wood, colour it and give it as offering to Kavu udayon.
The arattu (bath in tank) festival is celebrated in the month of Edavam (May-June) for
eight days. Each day Goddess is dipped in a different pond and on the eighth day she is
brought back to the temple along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
There are two very special and peculiar offerings at this temple. They are called Iratti
and Thadi. Iratti is nothing but the Ghee Payasam with the double the quantity of jaggery
.Thadi is made by the following method:-
Mix rice flour, Jaggery, and coconut along with powdered dry ginger and other spices.
This is made in to a paste form tied in the sheath of areca nut and tied at both ends. Then
the sand is heated by burning sticks. A small depression is made. The above bundle is put
inside and covered with hot sand. Again fuels such as coconut shells are burnt over it.
This offering is made only if devotees desire for it.

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