Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kodungaloor Bhagawathi Temple

Kodungallore BhagawathyTemple

This temple is situated about 40 km from the town of Thrissur. The presiding deity here is Kodungallore Amma, who is regarded as the Universal Mother.
It is believed that Kannagi, the heroine of the Tamil work "Silappadikaram" composed by Ilanko Adigal, has been consecrated here as the Goddess, by Cheran Chenguttuvan, who was the brother of Ilanko Adigal. Belonging to a rich merchant family, Kannagi, after her marriage was abandoned by her husband Kovalan who was infatuated with a courtesan and lost all his wealth. A repentant Kovalan and she migrated to Madurai. There they were constrained on account of poverty, to sell off her precious anklets. Thus it was that Kovalan went off to sell her anklets and was arrested by the king's soldiers. Apparently, the anklets which he tried to sell was of a similar pattern to the one belonging to the queen and which was missing from the palace. The Pandyan king of Madurai in a wrong judgment charged him with theft and had him executed. Later, in the Pandyan king's court, Kannagi proved that the anklet was not the one belonging to the queen, and that an innocent Kovalan was wrongly punished. The king realized his grievous error, and out of remorse, died instantly. In her wrath, and on the strength of her inner purity, Kannagi burnt the town of Madurai. Thereafter, she renounced her country and migrated to Chera Nadu, which is the present Kerala. Historical records in Srilanka, show that this temple was in existence since 1800 years and the deity here is referred to as “Pathini Daivam” (The divine virtuous wife). However over time, this temple is being referred to as a temple for Bhadra Kali. Among the list of 108 Bhagawathi temples of Kerala, we do not find the name of this most famous temple. Also, most of the Kerala Brahmins did not recognize this temple as a temple for Bhagawathi. There is a record that Mezhathoor Agnihothri (who lived in the seventh century) in consultation with Adi Sankara brought this temple under Brahmin worshipand systematized the procedures. It is believed that animal sacrifice and offering of Toddy to the Goddess was prevalent before that time. It seems Adi Sankara established the Sri Chakra in this temple and also constructed a shiva temple. However, the entire responsibility of worship in this temple is not borne by Brahmins alone but is also shared by the three matams viz. Matathi matam, Kunnath matam and Neelathu matam.
The principal deity of the temple is Bhadra Kali.The goddess sits facing north. The idol is made of Jack fruit tree wood. The goddess is in a 'roudra bhava'(fierce aspect) and is six feet tall.Her appearance is as when she returned after killing the asura Dharuka. There is a secret room called “rahasya ara” near this sanctum. It is also called 'Sri Moola Stanam'.It is believed that the original Kannagi statue is in this secret room. There are also temples for Lord Shiva and Ganapathi within the temple. In the northern entrance there is an idol of 'Kshethra Palan' (Guardian of the temple).'Pulinjamrutham', which is curd mixed with Jaggery payasam is offered to him. Another Goddess is Vasuri Mala (Pox goddess).Guruthi, which is of blood red in colour and is made by mixing lime and turmeric in water is offered to her.
The most famous festival of this temple is Kodungallore Bharani (In the star Bharani in the Meena month (March-April)). The worship during this period, is in almost pure Dravidian style. Large number of commoners flock to the temple from around Malabar region. They sing bawdy songs in a particular style, on their way and also inside the temple. The first four days of the month of Makaram (January-February) is celebrated as Thalapoli where Virgin girls make offering of fruits in a plate to the Goddess. Navarathri is also celebrated in the temple.

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