Monday, November 9, 2009

Poornatharayeesa temple - Trippunithura

This time I am taking you to Kerala, the place I was born and brought up. It is known as God's own country. This state also abounds in temples, some of which are over 1000 years old. Kerala is famous for its picturesque landscape, lagoons, beaches, hill stations and Asia’s first synagogue (Shall write about the same later ) and few monuments which has made this place a haven for tourists. Here I am going to start with a temple in a locality, where I have lived for about 7 years and used to visit daily. The place is Trippunithura situated in Ernakulam district.

The temple architecture is different from the ones that we see in Tamilnadu.

Poornathrayeesa temple

The presiding deity is Mahavishnu and this temple was constructed by the erstwhile rulers of Tripunithura which was the seat of royalty. Even to day we find many palatial buildings here. The temple is very big and the idol is sitting on the serpent God Ananthan whose hood serves as a canopy for the Lord. The deity here looks magnificent with his right leg folded at knees and perched on the seat and left leg hanging down. He carries conch and discuss in two hands and the third hand holds a lotus and fourth hand is resting on the seat. The sanctum sanctorum is circular in shape and on the South side there is a shrine for Ganapathy (Vinayagar). Facing West side is the shrine for Ananthan. The door of this shrine always remains closed and the idol can be viewed through a small slit in the wall. A lamp always glows inside here round the clock called as keda vilaku, meaning a lamp that keeps glowing always. Excellent brass idols of Gods moulded to artistic perfection line the circular walls of the temple.

Kerala temples give so much importance for cleanliness and the temple precincts are always kept clean. The area of temple is around 5 acres and it is always frequented by the tourists and the locals as well. There are view galleries on the south and west side side, these were meant for the members of the royal family where they used to assemble in large number during the festival to watch and listen to the various art and classical performances.

The custom in Kerala temples here, the devotees are expected to wear traditional Kerala costumes. Men are expected to wear dhoti and angavastram and women, saris or chudidhars. Western clothes are not allowed. Some temples allow men to wear trousers but expect them to remove shirts and vests while entering the restricted prakarams. The devotees who do not want to follow these customs are allowed to worship the deity from the outer most prakaram. It is recommended that people travelling to Kerala on pilgrimage keep this in mind.

There are many oil lamps here big and small, which always glow and the devotees ensure the replenishment of the oil by regular offerings. The wall of the outer prakaram is fully is lined with columns of lamps and a tall deepa sthambham (multi layered lamp post) in front of the temple which are lit up during the temple festivals.

There is a huge Peepal tree in front of the temple and a Sivalinga on a pedestal below the tree. The flag mast is very tall and considered to be tallest in these parts of Kerala. There is a pond inside the temple itself and it is not uncommon to find one or two elephants inside the temple as the deity here is a lover of the same.

There 2 main festivals here, one during the Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala and the other in November which lasts for about 8 days. This festival in November draws huge crowd here and the whole town gears up days before the commencement of the festival. The main roads leading to temple get decorated with festoons, arches and illumination. Shops spring up on either side of the road and it resembles a village fare.

The main attraction for the festival is the Seeveli, it’s a procession of caparisoned elephants carrying the idol atop. At least 11 -15 elephants get lined up for this and it is really a spectacular show where young and old participate with enthusiasm and sway to the accompaniments of percussion instruments; the ensemble called as panchari melam. The colourful parasoles held atop the elephants add charm and brightness to the whole atmosphere.

Yet another festival is the ambalmkathi festival (ambalam= temple, kathi = caught fire, in Malayalam) in remembrance of a fire that engulfed the temple years ago. On that day the whole temple would be lighted with lamps and heaps of camphor around the temple.

Even for daily poojas carrying the deity on an elephant is part of the custom here. The idol that is used for these rituals is the utsavar. Devotees accompany these seeveli chanting the name of Lord and participate in the worship there after.

The abode of Mahavishnu here is considered to be an important holy place for the Hindus and it is believed that the deity here was installed by Arjuna one of the Pancha Pandava brothers. He consecrated the temple here and lit the lamp by crushing gingely seeds from a near by plant and from that day lighting the lamps with gingely oil came into vogue.

Poornathrayeesa is also known as Santhana Gopala here and child less, aspiring couples offer their prayers here in the belief that God will bless them with children. This temple is situated on the shores of river Poorna hence the place takes its name Trippunithura.

The birth star of God is Uthram and on this day thousands of devotees throng the temple and about 35000 participate in the annadanam. (Free meals) . In the evening there is a ceremony called Lakshmi Narayana Vilakku and God's sister from the nearby Pishari temple is brought here. The main deity of Poornathrayeesa is always adorned with garland of lotus flowers and tulsi. (Basil leaves).

When ever I go to Tripunithura I never miss a chance to visit this temple as I like the atmosphere very much. The effulgence emanating from the sanctum sanctorum is difficult to be expressed in words. The vision always lingers in the mind.

The temple timings are 3.45 am, 4 p.m-8.30 pm

How to reach:
Tripunithura is 10 Kms from Ernakulam Junction. Frequent buses ply from the town to this place. This place is an extended part of Ernakulam itself.
The nearest airport is Nedumbassery which is 30 Kms, from Tripunithura.

Accommodation: Luxury, deluxe and budget hotels are available in Kochi which is the new name for Ernakulum and Cochin twin cities.


Felicity Grace Terry said...

This sounds like a wonderful place to be born and brought up - so full of history.
I was interested to read that in some temples men were allowed in wearing trousers though they were expected to remove shirts and vests - as you can probably imagine this sounds very strange to me, living in a largely Christian country as I do.
I hope you don't mind me asking and please excuse my ignorance but could you tell me exactly what Angavastram are - I've tried 'googling' the word but with little success. Thank you.

chitra said...

Thanks for the comment petty witter

having multi country readership I should have probably given a proper description of purely Hindu and South Indian costume. Dhoti is white or off white piece of cloth around 2 metres wide and 1.3 metres long and it is simply tied around the waist something similar to a towel. Anga vasthram a cloth to cover the chest which also is a similar cloth with lesser dimension. It's just wrapped around the shoulders like shawl. The huge advantage is there is no stitching involved. I shall probably put a photograph in one of my blogs later.

chitra said...

Petty witter

i was anticipating a comment on the Seeveli from you but you really googly-ed me with your query on angavastram.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Thanks for that explanation Chitra. Google is generally very good at explaining these things but alas not this time, but not too worry - a friend on FaceBook explained angavastram to me. I look forward to seeing your photos though.

vineshkumar said...

Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....
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chitra said...

Thanks Vinesh.:)

chitra said...

Petty witter
Chk this site.for agavastram. while going inside the temple the kurta should not be worn.


i shall post some photos too

AswathiBabu said...

Very informative ...I am very happy to know that you r from thripunithura.

Ravikumar Ambadi said...

informative. please read the below mentioned blog also for more information

chitra said...

Thanks Mr. ravikumar. will chk blog for sure

Shyamala KP said...

Quite informative. Your effort needs an applause.thank you.

chitra said...

Thank you Shyamala for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Madam while speaking about the temple festivals you forgot to mention the para ulsavam(held in kumba masam)and the shankara-narayana vilakku

Anonymous said...

Madam thought you would also be mention the fact that vrishikaulsavm marks the beginning of all ulsavams throughout Kerala. Being born in Tripunitura I always have pride in it.

chitra said...

Thank you for the input. I wrote just a gist of my visit,What I see . So details can always be had from temple websites.
That is why I include my captures. Anyway I have published your comment that would be information for others.