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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kumaranalloor

Kumaranalloor Devi temple,in Kottayam, is considered as one of the most important Devi temples among the 108 Durgalayas (Devi temples) in Kerala. It is said to be more than 2400 years old. The architecture of the temple is notable for the unique structure of the Nalambalam and Sreekovil both of which have been built in the sreechakra style (ring like object with a handle, which is placed in the right hand of the devi). This kind of architecture is rarely found in temple architecture.
While entering the temple, the temple view presents a divine picture. Getting into the temple through the main gopuram one can see the golden dhwajom and the balickal pura with carvings of many sculptures including those of Ganapathy and Shiva and other saints on pillars. Inside the nalambalam, sreekovil and the main mandapam are surrounded by paths made of carved stones. The temple of Shiva is on the right side of the main sreekovil. Bhadrakali temple is situated on the south of the temple along with the full stretched surrounding path on carved stones for the whole temple.
Mural paintings in Kumaranalloor temple are precious and rare. The outer walls of the sreekovil are decorated with paintings showing the different styles of gods, goddesses, and incidents from great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Natural colours and medicinal plants were used to colour the murals.
The important festival of the temple is Thrikkarthika celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (November-December). On the Karthika day it is usual to make a nivedyam (offering) in the precincts of the Udayanapuram and Trissur Vadakkunnatha temples. The story goes that the Gods in these two temples, greatly charmed by the beauty of the Devi returning after her Karthika bath. They came out of the temples, got over the compound walls, and stood there looking amorously at the seductive figure of the passing Devi, and the temple priest finally met them on the walls at the southern end of the temples. Thenceforth, during Karthika, puja is performed over the walls of these temples. The display of lights in the evening, called Karthika Vilakku, is the highlight of this celebration.

Legend :
Cheraman Perumal was the ruling emperor of Kerala when the construction of a temple at Udayanapuram to install the idol of goddess durga began; while he commenced the construction of another temple at a place (which is later known as Kumaranalloor) to install the idol of Lord Kumara or Subramanian. Mean while a disturbing incident took place at Meenakshi temple, Madurai in Tamilnadu The gem-studded nose ring of devi was missing. The King ordered to kill the priest of the temple unless he could solve this problem within 41 days. However, the priest was innocent and took refuge at the feet of Devi.
The grief-stricken priest spent his days and nights crying and praying. On the night of the 40th day, he slept at the doorsteps of temple, meditating and contemplating his fate when he had a dream. Devi appeared before him and ordered him to quit the place at once. The bewildered priest had seen a thejas (divine light) moving forward. The thejas led him a long distance and finally reached the place which latter became known as Kumaranalloor. At Kumaranalloor, the temple was under construction to install the idol of lord Subramanian or Kumaran.
The thejas entered into the Sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple. Moreover, it was at the prathista time that the thejas entered the sreekovil. Then there was an asareeri (an inerporeal and divine voice), ‘kumaranalla ooril', meaning, ‘this place is not for Kumara'. This is, Kumari's or Devi's place. Hence got the name Kumaranalloor.
Cheran Perumal was disappointed and frustrated. He travelled to Udayanapuram to install the idol of Kumara, at the temple, which was under construction.
Later, Perumal returned to Kumaranalloor for the pratishta of Devi's idol. There was an idol lying in water at Vedagiri a near by place. Perumal brought the idol from Vedagiri. Maharshi Parasurama had supposedly made and worshipped the idol in past. At the time of installation, a brahmin sage with matted hair, came and entered the Sreekovil and installed the idol in a second and then vanished. People believe that the brahmin sage was Maharshi Parasurama. The brahmin priest, who followed the thejas from madurai, became the priest of the temple. His residence is known as Madurai Illam. His successors worship the Devi even today.

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