9-10 December'08: I had an official visit planned to Ernakulam and drove down via Palakkad & Thrichur on 9th afternoon. After a brief stopover at Angamali for tea/snacks, reached Ernakulam late evening and checked into Hotel Bharat. Next morning got up early and after a refreshing cold water bath left around 6 AM via Edapally for Trikakkara a distance of around 10 Kms. This is the location of the famous Vamanamoorthy Temple, which is a Divya Desam, and the epicentre from where the annual Onam festival begins every year. It has been glorified by the tamil hymns of Nammalwar, of the 1st millennium CE.
We first visited the adjacent Mahadeva Temple which also has sub shrines for Parvati, Durgai, Ganesha & Subramania. Just outside the temple facing the deity is a cement throne where it is believed that King Mahabali, an ardent Siva devotee who visits Kerala every year, sits and blesses the people of Kerala.
After offering prayers and witnessing the Deeparchanai we proceeded to the Vamanamoorthy Temple. Seeveli was in progress and the Utsava Murthy of Lord Vamana was being taken in a procession by the Head Priest followed by temple musicians to the accompaniment of molam & nadaswaram. They circumambulated the seeveli pura in the purathambalam three times before entering the chuttambalam with the Utsava Murthy.
We then went in and prayed to Lord Vamana, who is the 5th reincarnation of Lord MahaVishnu. The Lord had taken the form of a young Brahmin boy to rein in the arrogant Bali, an Asura who through his rigorous penances had become very powerful and a big threat to the Devas in heaven. Bali however was large hearted and when Vamana asked for three paces of land he immediately agreed much against the advise of Sukracharya, the preceptor of the Asuras. And instantaneously Vamana grew to massive proportions and assumed Viswa Roopa and with one pace covered the whole earth and with the second pace covered the entire skies . There was no more place to offer and so Bali offered his head to the Lord and the Lord thus put his foot on his head and crushed his arrogance and pushed him down to the nether world or patala. Bali realised his folly and thereafter became an ardent devotee of Mahavishnu. Thus he transformed from an evil asura to a good asura and came to known as Mahabali. He asked permission from Vishnu that he be allowed to come to Kerala, the land which he ruled, once every year to be among his subjects. Thus the annual Onam festival came to be celebrated in Kerala to coincide with Mahabali's Visit.
The inner sanctum is circular with a conical pagoda shaped vimanam . The Deity was brightly illuminated with oil lamps all around and the deeparchanai was wonderful. The priest gave us prasadam of chandanam, bhasmam & kumkumam and sweet aval-jaggery. As we circumambulated the chuttamabalam we prayed at the sub-shrines of Ganesha, Ayyappa and Gopalakrishna.
The temple campus is very large and probably extends to around 2-3 acres. There is a small and beautiful temple tank on the North side known as Kapila Teertham. Local legends associate the theertham with the source of water with which Mahabali Chakravarti symbolically made his offering of land to Vamana.
Local Legends: There are interesting local legends surrounding this place. A devout farmer, appalled by the lack of crop from his fields of plantain trees, worshipped the deity here with an offering of a bunch of gold plantains upon which he was blessed with a bountiful harvest of a breed of bananas now known as "Nendiram Pazham".
For more details on legendslog onto: http://www.onamfestival.org/king-mahabali-onam.html
We were back at Hotel Bharat for delicious Kerala style breakfast if idli, appam & stew, idiappam, steamed nendram pazham & fruit juice. I was in official meetings from 9.00 am to 4.30m pm after which we set out on our return journey. We made a deviation at Angamali and traveled via Kaladi to Thotuva to visit and pray at the Dhanwantari Temple.
Dhanvantari (also Dhanwantari) is considered an avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu tradition. He appears in the Vedas and the Puranas as the physician of the Gods (devas), and the God of Ayurvedic medicine. It is common practice for worshipers to pray to Lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for sound health.
Thottuva Dhanwantari is of special significance as this is our ancestral temple - my granfather & his father hailed from Thottuva/Koovapady. The temple itself which was modest to begin with has expanded considerably and been transformed into a wonderful temple in recent years with generous donations from devotees including NRI's. As you circumambulate the inner sanctum you pray at the sub shrine of Ganesha. You can see depicted on the walls depictions of the ten avataras of Vishnu - Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna & Kalki. Shobha offerred Pushpanjali and Aal Roopam for good health and after witnessing deeparchanai we received chandanam, Bhasmam & pazham/sugar as prasadam. On the outer prakaram there are subs hrines of Bhagavati & Sastha.
Legend: Dhanvantari is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar or Amrita in another. The Puranas state that Dhanavantari emerged from the 'Ocean of Milk' with the pot of nectar during the Samudra Mathanam whilst the ocean was being churned by the devas and asuras, using the Manthara mountain and the serpent Vasuki. The pot of Amrita was snatched by the Asuras or Demons, and after this event another avatar, Mohini, appears and takes the nectar back from the Asuras