Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Perunna Murugan temple

The temple of ferocious  Muruga visited by Mahathma Gandhi

Perunna  Murugan  temple

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     Perunna murugan temple is located in the small town of Kerala called Changanaserry  which is 23 km from  Kottayam town. Shri Perunna Subrahmanya Swami temple is a pilgrim center which has its own glory and greatness, mainly because of the divinity enshrined in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and the unique charm of the idol installed in it.  Shri Subrahmanya Swami temple is one of the most famous Muruga temples in the state, and  is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture, having many decorative murals and pieces of art. This is the venue of the world famous Thaipooya Kavadiyattam ( Kavadi) festival celebrated annually from January to February. 
       The Form of Subrahmanaya is   that of furious Deva SEnathipathi with the Vel placed in downward direction .  The idol looks furious and holds his spear pointing downwards . People believe that this form was assumed immediately after the  Lord Subrhamana killed Tharakasura. The  idol is five feet tall and is consecrated on a lotus platform. .It is made in black stone.
  There is a story behind this temple.  It seems in  a village called Uppizhi in Kerala    there was a great Subrahmanya devotee called  Kumaran Namboosdiri. Like all  other Keralaites he was a great devotee of Pazaani Murugan. Once when he went to the Palalni temple, it seems he felt home sick. It seems Lord Muruga came in his dream and told him that  “You can find my statue in the river Kodumthurai. You recover that and consecrate it in Perunna”. Kumar Namudiri obeyed the order of God    and the Perunna temple was established. The idiol was consecrated in the year 753 AD in the tenth  day of  Meenam month. It seems that as soon as the idol was consecrated,  it was completely covered in Sun light. Every year this day is celebrated as the Consecration day . Every year the same miracle of Sun covering the statue happens.
There is yet another story of the temple:-

Around 500 years back, there was a village called Umbizhi, near Perunna. ( This is the place where Changanacherry railway station is now seen). This village, like Perunna, was a Brahman settlement.  Although both the villages where Brahmans, Perunna Brahmans were 'Satwiks' ( those who perform only good karmas and nothing negative), but Umbishis were more ugra tantrics who also performed some black magic related works.

Perunna Brahmans were Shiva devotees at that time and they had a small but powerful Shiva temple for their worship. As their prosperity increased,  because of the blessings of this Shiva, Umbizhi Brahmans became jealous and they have started performing some tantric rituals against Perunna.  They also attacked their   shiva  temple and destroyed the temple complex.  But fortunately, Perunna Brahmans were able to save the idol or vigraha. (This is the same Vigraha present in the Keezhkulanagara temple).

Perunna Brahmans and other Hindus were shocked by the incident and a person from Idamana Illam, ( A nampoothiri from Perunna Padinjattumbhagam) started a pilgrimage seeking remedy for their problems.  He travelled all the way to "Pazhani Muruga temple" in Tamil nadu, stayed there in the temple and started a special bhajan, seeking for a solution. After some weeks, he had a vision of Lord Muruga of Palani.  Lord Muruga advised the Nampoothiri,  to go to Kodunthura river in the Pathanamathitta district and take the idol ( Vigraham) from the river. This idol was built in time immemorial and was originally worshipped by the munis and rishis of various yugas. Immeadiately Idaman nampoothiri went to Kodunthura and found the idol in the river.

On the day of prathishta (consecration) itself,  villagers of Umbizhi sensed their defeat. They did a very rare and secret tantric ritual and sent a very powerful moorthy (diety) to destroy the Perunna temple. When Edamana nampoothiri heard about this incident,  he started to walk towards east ( towards Umbishi illam) and on the way found a very bright ball of fire coming toward their direction. His companion, a Nair Karanavar offered himself as 'bali' (sacrificed his life) to the moorthy and Edamana nampoothiri suddenly performed some rituals and was able to control the moorthy ( diety).  He made some avahanas and made a moorthi pratishta of the Maranam( Goddess Kali). After all these events Umbizhi villagers were totaly destroyed and the place where the village was situated,  became a dense forest. Almost 55 years back,  Lord Muruga’s( Perunna Subrahmanay Swami) Arattu was performed at that place, at the time of temple festival. 
      There is huge tank in this temple which is believed to contain large number of Saligrama stones.  Five Edangazhi(A measure of Kerala-one edangazhi  slightly more than one kg )   rice is cooked every day   and is offered to the God. Tuesday is considered as a special day to worship God  here.  The God is worshipped five times a day. Karthika I festival,  Thai poosam (thai poosam Kavadiyattam of this temple is very famous)  , Skanda SAshti  , Soora SAmharam etc are celebrated in this temple. During Kartiga festival   which is celebrated  for thirteen days. The God is anointed with milk every day. Aravanai Payasam   is offered to the God.
I am reproducing a write up  about  Thai pOoya Kavadiyattam of the temple from
“ThypooyamA festival occurring in the Malayalam month Makaram (January-February), the day of the star Pooyam around Pournami (Full Moon) is celebrated as Thypooyam. There was a demon named Tharakasuran who was troubling the Rishis and Saints. Lord Muruga was called by his parents Lord Shiva and Parvati and given the job of destroying the asuran. Lord Muruga set off with the blessings of his parents, to destroy the demon. He carried twelve weapons, eleven of which were given by his father Lord Shiva and the 'Vel' given by his mother Parvati. Lord Muruga destroyed Tharakasuran on the Pooyam Nakshatram day in the Tamil month of Thai and hence Thypooyam is celebrated in all Murugan temples.
Generally, people take a vow to offer the Lord a Kavadi for the sake of tiding over a great calamity. No doubt, the worldly object is achieved for the devotee who takes the Kavadi. After the ceremony he fells that his inner spiritual being gets awakened. This is also a method that ultimately leads to the supreme state of devotion.

The Kavadi has various shapes and sizes, from the simple shape of a hawker's storehouse (a wooden stick with two baskets at each end, slung across the shoulder) to the costly palanquin structure, profusely flower-bedecked and decoratively interwoven with peacock feathers.

The two baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain milk, rose water, chandanam, tender coconut water, bhasmam, Sesame oil(Enna)etc that the devotee has vowed to offer the Lord. The more devout among them, and especially those who do it as a Sadhana, collect these articles by begging (bhiksha). They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door. The devotees conduct pooja for Idumban before starting the bhiksha.

Some keen devotees undertake to walk barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering.

The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi, and the day of the offering. He has to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the Kavadi, and at the time of offering it to the Lord. He wears saffron-coloured cloth and carry a conical scarlet cap and a cane silver-capped at both ends. The Kavadi-bearer very often observes silence. He observes strict celibacy. Only pure, vegetarian food is taken; he abstains from all sorts of intoxicating drinks and drugs. He thinks of God all the time.

Many of the Kavadi-bearers, especially those who do it as a spiritual Sadhana, impose various forms of self-torture. Some pass a sharp little spear (“vels”) through their tongue, which is made to protrude out of the mouth. Others may pass a spear through the cheek. This sort of piercing is done in other parts of the body also. The vels represent the spear of Lord Muruga that killed Idumban. Lemons are pierced and hanged from the “vels”. The acid juice of lemons and bhasma spread over the pierced flesh cures bleeding.

The Kavadi-bearer enjoys a high state of religious fervour. His very appearance is awe-inspiring; there is divine radiance on his face. Devotees often experience the state of feeling united with the Lord.
Miracles at the time of Kavadi yattam.

From the time immemorial, the thaipooya kavadi of perunna temple has become the place for miracles. As the kavadi festival has competitive spirit ( two areas namely padinjattum bhagam and kishakku- west and east) both groups are trying their very best to make their kavadi better. The major competitive events in this kavadi festivals are elephents " thalapokka malsaram" ( which is there from the time immemorial- but not so famous in medias); and chenda melam.

The thaipooya kavadi festival of this temple is a world famous one and both padinjattum bhagama and kishakkum bhagam will bring the best elephants in kerala for them. Both the groups usually has 7 to 11 or 15 elephants. Almost all the famous elephant owners know the elephant competition in this temple and some of them have actually become afraid to participate. The major reason for this is that as the " elephant from padinjattum bhagam" has the special right to have the original thidambu of Lord Velayudha, the other elephants of kishakkum bhagam; even if it is "big" couldn’t be able to raise his head above the head of padinjattum bahagam's elephant.

People have witnessed this miracle for centuries and still it is happening here. Examples are many... and it still happens....
For example in year 1998/99, the main elephant for kishakkum bhagam was famous Athira Rajasekharan and for padinjatum bhagam it was shajis puthenkulam rajendran ( now trissur sri raman). Athira rajasekharan was the best for thalayeduppu at that time and he was able to stand his head raised for hours. But for the first time in his life; on the day of thaipooya kavadiyattam suddenly he became unable even to move his head and lost the competition. witnessing this; the owner of the other elephant (Sri Puthenkulam Shaji) donated a part of his elephants rent to the padinjattumbahagam as an offering.

In year 2001 even the biggest elephant of all times kandambulli balanarayanan( who was 10 feet 8 inch in height) has failed to raise his head above the then padinjattum bhagamas Puthenkulam Anatha padmanabhan.....( this was anatha padmanabhans first festival in kerala and at that time he was less than 10 feet.)”

 In the year 1936, for the first time in Kerala , this temple was opened for all the devotees by the Travancore king. Hearing this , it seems Mahathma Gandhi visited this temple and offered worship here.

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