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Tracing the Legacy of Kashmiri Tantra in Kerala: A Journey through 13 Abodes of Rurujit Kali


Kerala, a state which is bountiful with many cultures and traditions coexisting together. Kali worship is one of the oldest traditions of this place. Many of Kerala’s folklore, temple traditions, rituals, and art forms are eminently influenced by Kali worship. Kali is the Mother Goddess depicting Mother Nature, Motherhood, fertility, and protection. We can see temples or places of worship dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali (a form of Kali) in each and every village of Kerala.

Introduction

Bhadrakali worship is closely associated with the presence of a Sacred grove or ‘Kavu’ near the [1] abode of the deity. These groves are constituted of clusters of trees that are grown together over an area of land. There may be ponds or small water bodies associated with these groves which inhabit many small animals and birds.

Specific trees of religious importance are also grown and nurtured here. These groves would have a presiding deity and are commonly associated with religious rites and festivals at particular time intervals of the year. There are many different types of sacred groves/kavu’s like Sarpa kavu (worshipping Snakes), Bhadrakali kavu (Mother Kali as the presiding deity), Ayyapan Kavu etc. The present work will extensively focus only on the Bhadrakali Kavu.

Rurujit-Vidhana:

All over Kerala there are many Saktheya prathishtta’s(Devi worship installations) in various forms of installations. Rurujit, Dakshajit, Darikajit and Mahishajit are the four different forms of installations we can find in kali temples. These names are derived from different forms of the Goddess Kali winning (Jit) over different powerful demons. Bhadhrakali, as the destroyer of demon Ruru is known as Rurujit.

Similarly, the victory over Daksha, Darika and Mahisha earns her the other 3 names. These Saktheya prathishtta are considered to be formulated in Rurujit-Vidhana which is a Kashmiri Tantra based style of worship. Surprisingly enough we do not find the Prathishta model and idol installation which do not seem to have much connection with the Kerala Tantra.

Kali is worshipped as the embodiment of nature through this. The central point of all such Kali temples is considered to be at Kodungallur. Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is believed to have constructed this shrine and installed the Shakthi Devi as Bhagavathi at Kodungallur.

The temples which are devoted to Rurujit follows a pattern of installation of the deities which is mentioned in Sesasamuccaya [2] . In this text, it is clearly written that bhadrakali in the form of 2 Rurujit is the principal diety. In such temples we can witness, Siva installed facing the eastern side while on the southern side facing north or east direction is the Rurujit kali and on the eastern side of the Rurujit facing the north is Sapta matrukas (seven mothers), Veerabhadra and Ganesha and on the north eastern corner Kshetrapala .

Saptamatruka (Seven Mothers):

Saptamatruka, (Sanskrit: “Seven Mothers”) is a group of seven mother-goddesses, each of whom is the Shakti’s, the female form of the gods. They are Brahmani (Shakti’s of Brahma), Maheshvari (Shakti of Shiva), Kaumari (Shakti’s of Kumara), Vaishnavi (Shakti of Vishnu), Varahi (Shakti’s of Varaha, or boar, an avatar of Vishnu), Indrani (Shakti’s of Indra), and Chamunda, or Yami (Shakti’s of Yama). The Saptamatruka is believed to possess a major part in Rurujit Vidhana.

13 Abodes of Rurujit Kali:

Through this Yatra (600 Km), we intent to visit these Saktheya Prathishtta temples from NorthKerala to South Kerala. The temples are cited below which forms the 13 sacred groves of Kerala designed on Rurujit Vidhana.

  1. Mannampurathu Kavu, Kasaragod
  2. Madayi Kavu, Kannur.
  3.  Mamanikunnu Kavu, Kannur.
  4. Thiruvancheri Kavu, kannur.
  5. Kalarivathukkal Kavu, Kannur.
  6. Pisharikavu, Kozhikode
  7. Kaliyamvelli Kavu, Kozhikode.
  8. SreeValayanadu Kavu, Kozhikode.
  9. Thirumandhamkunnu Kavu, Malappuram.
  10. Kodikunnu Kavu, Palakkad.
  11. Kodungallur Devi Temple, Thrissur
  12. Panayannar Kavu Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta.
  13. Muthoot Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta.

1.  Mannampurathu Kavu, Kasaragod

Mannampurathu kavu is situated at Hosdurg taluk, Nileshwaram, Kasaragod district. It is more than a thousand year old temple. It is said that the origin of the Thali temple occurred during the reign of Neeleshwaram King Dynasty during which the Allada Swaroopam existed. This reign and origin was witnessed by the existence of Mannampurathu kavu which evidences the age of the kavu to be more than 1000 years old.

The shrine possesses a folklore about Devi and Mannan. Mannan, was a landlord who possessed an ill character in treating his people. His arrogant character caused people to complain about him to the Allada Swaroopam. Allada Swaroopam refused to take up the issue as Mannan was an intense devi worshipper and asked people to seek help of Moothedaru ( Main Priest) of Madayi Kavu. Moothedaru is believed to have a direct access to converse with Devi daily.

Mannampurathu Kavu, Kasaragod

When approached, Moothedaru promised to report the issue to Devi after the Ucha pooja. Devi on hearing the issue started her journey to meet Mannan. On her way Devi chose a Karaka (cow-shed) for her Athazha pooja due to its sanctity, thus bringing the name Karaka Kavu. After which Devi halted at Thali temple for her morning rituals and proceeded to Iduvingal which was near to Mannan’s palace. After reaching Iduvingal, a messenger was sent to his palace to inform about Moothedaru interest in a private conversation.

The messenger was insulted and sent back but Moothedaru again approached him directly and reported about the complaint against him. Mannan due to his ego did not accept the request and on understanding his adamant and cruel nature, Moothedaru returned back. Being sad on insulting words moothedaru started his meditation on Devi in a nearby sacred grove.

On pleasing with his devotion Devi took the form of Chamundeswari to instruct Mannan to stop his cruelty. Mannan objected and waged a war against Devi which lasted for three days and was killed by her divine hands to attain liberation. Mannampurathu Kavu pooja [3] is conducted by Pidarar Samudhayam. Mootha Pidarar is the first 3 trustee, Irivattu Nair and Aramana Nair being the second and third trustee. Here, the speciality is Saktheya Prathishtta (Devi worship installations) which is formulated to Rurujit-Vidhana, a Kashmiri Tantric style of worship.

The presiding deity is Bhagavathi with eight hands made of Panchaloha and facing the west. The main offerings are Pushpanjali, Rakthapushpanjali, Guruthi, Shatrusamhara, Niramala, Valyaguruthi, Valyapooja. Daily early morning rituals start with Abhishekam and continues with Ushapooja and then afternoon Uchapooja and at the evening Deeparathana and concludes with Athazhapooja with offering of food. The main 9 days festivals is on Meenam month from Karthika to Pooram. The other festival are on Vrichikam and Makaram. Eeyam, Nungu, Elanji, Arayal are the main trees found in the grove. On the north-west side of the sacred grove is the temple pond situated.

2. Madayi Kavu, Kannur

Madayi Kavu [4] is situated at Madayi Para, Payangadi, presently located near Payyanur railway station of Kannur district. It is believed that this place was initially a part of the sea and when a conch (Shanku) thrown by lord Prasurama landed here, the sea moved and the place became a barren land to be known as Madayi Para.

A known tale of the kavu claims that the Bhagavathi resided in the Rajarajeshwara temple after killing Darika which explains Ugraroopam (the anger form) of Devi. Normally Shantha pooja (offered for serene deities) was conducted in this temple as the main deity is Siva. Devi being in Ugraroopam and also favoring Kaulamargaachara was not satisfied with the serene pooja form and was decided to be installed in a separate shrine with the main rituals headed by Kolathiri Raja as Madayi kavilamma is the Kuladevatha of Kolathiri dynasty. Even now all the festivals and rituals are performed in the presence of Kolathiri dynasty.

Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (head priest) of the temple who says that in earlier days the priests came from Kashmir. The temple is revered shrine of Chirakkal royal family and Chirakkal devasom… Long back the temple was situated in the land of 700 acres and now reduced to 300 acres. The main pooja performed here is Satru Samhara pooja and also Agah pooja to fulfill a person’s desires.

Every month there is a special festival conducted in the temple except the Malayalam month of Dhanu. In the month of Karkidaka there is Nira, in Chingam festival of Puthari and in Kanni is Chakyarkoothu (whole month) and also festival of musical tribute is conducted in Thulam, Makaram and kumbha month and Sivarathri also being celebrated.

The famous pooram festival known as Vasantholsavam of north Kerala starting on Meena month and ending on Pooram adds remarkably to the festivities. On this day idol of goddess is taken out for procession. The pooram festival has connection with demon Darika during when Madayi kavilamma visits darika kotta. The Vaalpayattu, the sword art performance is performed to depict the great war between Bhagavathi and demon Darika during the festival.

To add festivity Poorakali symbolising the Ananda Nirtham of Amma is performed very early in the mornings. Mithuna month is the Prathishtta (idol installed) day festival to signify the installation of the shrine. On this day daily Shakteya pooja is not offered till afternoon to continue with Thanthri pooja.

The idol of the Devi is made of very rare concentrated Jaggery (Kadu Sarkara) which is an ayurvedic mixture that makes it unique from other temples where it is Shila Prathishta and not Kadu Sarkara Yogam. While entering the temple initially we can see Siva ,on its left side Saptha Mathrukas (The seven mothers) with them Veerabhadran and Ganapathi and near to them Bhagavathi, the main Prathishtta facing east side.

3. Mamanikunnu Kavu, Kannur

Mamanikunnu Kavu [5] is one among the main temples of Malabar, currently located at Irikkur, Kannur district. This 1000 year old temple situated on the eastern bank of Irikkur river is one of the oldest temples in Kerala. This temple is said to be very much connected to the nature.

The main speciality is Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) formulated to Rurujit Vidhana, a Kashmiri Tantric style of worship follows Kaulamarga achara, a secret ritual tradition which is said to be instructed by Siva to Parvathi devi. Bhagavathi is the presiding deity with no sculptural installation and only Peetah is present. Here the pooja is done by Pidarar/Moosad.

Mamanikunnu Kavu, Kannur

Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (head priest) of the temple. Devi is devoted with three daily poojas which shows uniqueness from other temples where five poojas are offered daily. The main offerings of the temple includes Guruthi,  Rakthapushpanjali, Niramala, Maristhambanam Neekal.

The Upadevata’s are Siva, Ashta Matrukal (which adds uniqueness from other temples), Sasthavu, Kshethrapalan, Nagam, Vadubairavan, Vadubairavi, Vanasasthavu, Ganapathi. The trustee of the temple is Kalliat Thazhatheveettil family. The main festivals are Navarathri, Pooram, Karthika. The main sacred trees are Mango, elanji, Arayal etc..

4. Thiruvancheri Kavu, Kannur

Thiruvancheri Kavu [6] is located at Kuthuparamba, Kannur. The temple is 3500 years old where Prathistta of the shrine was conducted by Vishwamithra Maharshi. It is believed that for over 200 years daily poojas and worships were not conducted and a few years later while cleaning the temple area, the destroyed idol was found to mark it a sacred place and thus to restart worship.

The Pooja performed in this temple shows similarity with Mannampurathu Kavu, Kasargod. It is said that Kashmiri Brahmins had come over to conduct kashmiri tantric pooja. This temple also follows Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) and is also formulated to Rurujit-Vidhana, the Kashmiri Tantric style of worship. This temple is believed to practice Guruthi in early 1961.

Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (head priest) of the temple and all the poojas are performed by Melshanthi (Head of the priests). The temple was believed to be under Kottayam Rajavu (Malabar) and for the temple festivals, the king would offer special rituals for women’s’ well-being. This place was earlier known as Thampurane kootiya Sthalam.

The peculiar feature of this temple is the idol was re-installed (Punaprathishtta) with a mirror since the idol was destroyed. Here Devi is offered with three daily poojas and Upadevatas are Saptha Mathrukas (The seven mothers). The main festivals are Navarathri, Sivarathri, Naraputhari, and Karthika Vilaku. The temple constitutes a pond at the north-eastern side and was believed to have sacred groves earlier.

5. Kalarivathukkal Kavu, Kannur

Kalarivathukkal temple [7]  is a Bhadrakali shrine located near Valapattanam river. The presiding deity of the shrine is the fierce form of Bhadrakali. The idol of the deity is Daru Shilpam (made from the bark of jackfruit tree) and thus Chanthattam is practised every year to preserve the idol.

Kalarivathukkal Bhagavathy is considered as the mother of ancient martial art form Kalarippayattu and hence the name. The Prathishtta is done by Lord Parasurama and the temple is owned by Chirakal Thampuran and also owing as the family shrine of Chirakkal Royal Family.

Kalarivathukkal Kavu, Kannur

It is considered that when thampuran visits the temple, there are special rituals done in the temple Kalasam is a famous festival celebrated once in every year and an important ritual of Meenamritam is practiced. This offering is based on an old traditional folklore, where when a fisherman went to sea near Podiyan Kallu caught a fish and offered to Bhagavathy.

The temple also practises Kashmiri Tantric style of worship called Rurujit-Vidhana which includes Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations). The Urayma (trustee) of this temple constitutes four Illam (traditional houses) which are Vadake illam, thazhathe illam, kizhake and padinjare illam.

Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (head priest) of the temple and rituals are performed by Moosad. The main offerings are Guruthi, pushpanjali. The deity is offered with five daily pooja including sheeveli. The Upadevata’s are Siva, Kshetrapalan, Sapta matruka, Nagam, Ganapathi. The temple area constitutes a pond on the eastern side.

6. Pisharikavu, Kozhikode

Pisharikavu [8] bhadrakali temple is one of the prominent Devi temple situated at Koyilandi (Vadakara route), Kollam, near Anakulam bus stop, Kozhikode district. The temple is said to be more than 600 years old currently headed by Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad as the Tantri (head priest) of the temple. The Urayma (Trustee) of the temple is Ettu Veetil Pillamar.

The daily rituals of Devi is performed by Moosad/ Pidaran from the thekkan Kollam (Malabar). This temple is believed to be an old Siva temple and Bhagavathi idol was later installed (prathishtta) by Vishahari (Nair Caste) as there was no tantri, thus owing the name. After the Devi prathistta, Madhyama karma is said to be practiced to date.

Pisharikavu, Kozhikode

The deity in standing posture with an angry face and eight hands holding swords is said to made of Panchaloha Vigraha facing North side. The Devi is offered three daily poojas following Rurujit-Vidhana, the Kashmiri Tantric style of worship in which Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) is followed. The other presiding deities (Upadevata) are Siva, Ganapathi, Ayyappa and Saptamatruka.

The main festival of the temple is Kaliyaattam and the date of this festival is decided on the tenth of Kumbham. The temple also celebrates ten days before Vishu as a major festival. Navaratri is also celebrated as a temple festival.

In olden times it was said that the temple witnessed big sacred grove out of which most was destroyed. The temple area contains a pond near to the north-west of the temple.

The main offerings to Devi are Guruthi. Before 60 years there were Kukud and Ajam Guruthi and nowadays it is limited with coconut water. An interesting story of this temple associates the mighty Tipu Sultan who visited the temple and ordered priest that Devi herself should offer prasad to him. Devi on his arrogacy appeared to offer prasad but astonished to see Devi he fell unconscious and with utmost devotion offered to take up the next whole year’s temple expenses. Till 1956, the expense was thus funded by the government.

7. Kaaliyamveli Kavu, Kozhikode

Kaaliyamvelikavu [9] is at Edachery, Vadakara, Kozhikode district. It is a very famous temple aged more than 2300 years old. Kattumadom Esanan Namboothirippad is the Tantri (head priest) of the temple. The Urayma (Trustee) is Muthillakara and is related to Kuttippuram Kovilam.

The pooja rituals such as daily pooja is conducted three times a day and the main offering, Kukud Guruthi is conducted on Tuesday and Friday which are performed by Moosad/Pidaran. This temple also come under Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) formulated to Rurujit-Vidhana, a Kashmiri Tantric style of worship.

The main prathistta, Nandakam is found in standing posture and faces the east. The
Kshethrapalan, Sapta Matruka are the Upadevata’s of Kavu. The main festival falls on Navarathri. The temple marks the presence of a pond on the west side and a divine Pine tree in the premises. Historians have evidently marked that Tipu Sultan has destructed Peedam of the temple which was later reconstructed.

8. Thiruvalayanadu, Kozhikode

Thiruvalayanadukavu [10]  is a temple on the top of a hill situated in Valayanad, Kozhikode at North Kerala to be dated more than 1500 years old. The tantri is Vatolli Moosad and the pooja rituals is performed by the Shanthi (priest). The temple is associated with Samoothiri Rajavu and his royal family. Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) formulated to the Kashmiri Tantric style of worship, the Rurujit-Vidhana is practiced here.

The main Prathishtta is Bhagavathi and Upadevatas are Saptha Mathrukas, Veerabhadhran, Kshethrapalan, Ganapathi which constitutes 13 idols made up of Daru. The expression of the Bhagavathi Prathishtta is Rowdram (fierce) with eight hands holding swords and other weapons. The deity faces towards the north side of the temple.

SreeValayanadu Kavu, Kozhikode

Chanthattam is a ritual conducted every year and the main offerings are Guruthi- Valya Guruthi and Cheriya Guruthi and five daily poojas ( morning pooja, Usha pooja, Ucha pooja, Panthiradi, and Athazha pooja) and three Sheeveli is practiced. The main festival is Navarathri, Mandala pattu held on Karthika of Makara month. The temple premises habitats many trees and a pond facing the east.

9. Thirumandhamkunnu, Malappuram

Thirumandhamkunnukavu [11] is situated at Angadipuram, Perinthalmanna, Malappuram district which is the capital of Valluvanad Rajavamsham. In this temple, Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) is not performed and thus no Guruthi is offered in this temple but Guruthi is conducted in other temples in the name of Thirumandhamkunnukavu.

The folklore behind this temple states the story of Mandhadavu Maharshi who was a king earlier gave up his properties to his family and started sanyasi life. After years of meditation, Siva appeared and offered him a Siva Lingam which Parvathi Devi performed daily pooja to marry Siva. Having come to know about this Parvathi Devi asked Lord Siva to get it back from Mandhadavu.

Thirumandhamkunnu, Malappuram

Siva declined her request and told Parvathi herself to get it from him. Parvathi send Bhadrakali to take back her Siva Lingam but when approached she was unable to near the premises because of Mandhadavu’s power. This lead to war between the Bhadrakali and the saint.

To protect her team Bhadra kali attacked the sage by throwing a bitter seed called aatanga. Based on this, a ritual called Aatangeru is performed . Being successful to reach the hill- top Bhadrakali took the Siva linga and it broke into two pieces from which Siva and Parvathi with Ganesha appeared to form Sree Mulasthanam. Bhadrakali also presided in the premise and Mandhadavu is believed to have attained Samadhi here. Upadevata’s are Saptha Mathrukas (The seven mothers), Kshetrapalan, Ganapathi, Nagam, Rakshass. The main festivals are Kalampattu, pattukooriduka, Makarachova.

The temple is said to have a connection with Valluva konathiri, and now is headed under four kovilams – Mankada, Aripara, Ayiranazhi, Kadanalmanna. Tantra is performed by Kaatlamittam and Panthalakodam, who is the main priest.

The main Prathishtta is Bhagavathi who looks very calm with eight hands holding swords and sits in a Veerasanam posture facing the west. This temple has the highest number of Daru idols in Kerala. Chaanthattam is conducted every year as a festival to protect the idol.

The pooja rituals are performed by brahmins and the main offerings are Neyvillaku, Chathukshatham, pushpanjali, and the Devi is worshipped with daily five poojas. The temple premise has a canal on the western side of the temple.

10. Kodikunnukavu, Palakkad

Kodikunnukavu [12] is a famous temple located at Pallipuram, near Pattambi, Palakkad district. The temple is over 3000 years old. The first Prathishtta is Siva and Saptha Mathrukas and then the Bhagavathy by Agnihothri about 1500 years ago. The folklore of the temple says Agnihotthri found three Trisoolams made gold, silver, and bronze from the Kaveri river.

He started his journey in search of places to install these trishuls. He placed gold trishul in Vemancheri Illam and the silver at Velliyamkallu near the Bharatha river and for the copper sword, he searched for Rurujit-Vidhana practising premise and installed at Kodikunnu as the temple already witnessed the presence of Siva and Saptha Mathrukas which denotes Rurujit Vidhana.

Kodikunnu Kavu, Palakkad

So here the Prathishtta is the trishul facing south and Upadevatha’s are Siva facing the east, Saptha Mathrukas and Kshethrapalakan. From Sreekovil we can view only the top of trishul. Here the deity is worshipped by offering three daily poojas, Uthama and Madhyama pooja. with the sliced bottom of the tender coconut and water offerings (Abhishekam) after which Adikal is believed to come to perform the pooja rituals.

Tantri is Azhakath shastra Sharman Namboothiri, Ezhikattu Narayana Namboothiri and Sretharan Chovarathu Namboothiri. Thus the pooja rituals are performed by Adikal and Namboothiri. Kodikunnuamma is the paradevatha of Nadunganadu.

Samoothiri king is the trustee of the temple and said to be related to Agnihothri. On the west side of the Sacred Groves is marked by a pond and the special Kannikonna flower in the temple which flowers in all seasons. Another main speciality of the temple is the three bali areas which are given equal importance to all Upadevata’s. Data by Sreekumar adikal supports the destruction caused by Tipu Sulthan over this temple.

11. Kodungallur Temple, Thrissur

The 5000-year-old Kodungallurbhagavathi [13] temple is also known as Sree Kurumba Bhagavathi, is 13 located at Kodungallur, Thrissur district of Kerala. The temple is very famous for the trees and is believed to be installed by Parasurama. During the olden times when Kerala stretched from Gokharna to Kanyakumari, to rescue Kerala from bad omen there were four Ambika temples located in four directions.

In North by Mookambika, South by Padambika and Kanyakumari, Eastside by Hemambika near Olavakkode and West side by Lokambika, who is Kodungallur Bhagavathi. Kodungallur is the Moolasthanam of all these ambika temples. Tantri is Tharassery Mekattumana and Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) formulated to Rurujit-Vidhana the Kashmiri Tantric style of worship is performed and practiced here by Adikal.

Kodungallur Devi Temple, Thrissur

Before Adikal the Kashmiri brahmins conducted poojas here only before 41 illam caught fire and the adikals originated from Kodikunnu. In recent years Adikal was unable to conduct pooja rituals for 12 years as some people forcefully took the temple key from them and owned as their own temple and later was achieved back after the permission from the  to conduct Pooja.

The trustee of this temple is Padikanmar.In this temple, all the rituals are secret and handed over by the legacy of their family. The pooja techniques were based on the textbook Matrusatbhavam. Previously, the rituals were based on Kaulachara,and later it is believed that Shankaracharya Swamikal changed into a mely manner thus reforming pooja techniques and timings. This had connection with Valyathampuran and Adikal karnor depicting that some rituals were practiced on the val of certain people.

The main rituals of this temple are Kozhikalmoodal and Aswathipooja. The main presiding deity is not bhadrakali and in Rurujit-Vidhana more importance is given to any of the idols among Saptha Mathrukas. Every month witnesses Parvapooja after which other daily poojas are not conducted in the temple on that day. After Aswathipooja, temple reopens only after 7 days but Yama pooja will be proceeded on these days by the main priests.

The main pooja is performed in Chamunda. The temple proceedings include five daily poojas and the upadevats are Ashta Mathrukas (the eighth one is assumed as Mahalakshmi), Ganapathi Kshetrapalan,Vasoorimala. Guruthi is practiced here. The deity carved in Daru with eight arms holding swords faces the North.

The uniqueness of this temple is that the priest faces Sreechakra during the pooja. Kodungallur Amma is Aadiparashakthi, henceforth no Nirrmalyam Darshan is conducted as in Kaliyama all the devata’s including Trimoorthikal comes to see Devi. The main festivals are held on Bharani, Makarasambramam. The temple premises comprises many trees, mainly Arayal and Peraal and a pond on the west side of the temple.

12. Panayannar Devi Temple, Alappuzha

Panayannarkavu [14] situated at the banks of Pamba river, Parumala, Thiruvalla taluk, 14 Pathanamthitta district. It is believed that the temple was formed in the dvapara yuga and the name Panayannarkavu originated from the 48 palm tree ‘Pana’ and ‘ayannar’ meaning multiplication of eight into six that is ‘forty-eight palm trees in the  Malayalam language.

It is believed that in Dvapara era Daksha Yagam was conducted here where Daksha’s daughter Dakshayani jumped into the Yaga Agni which angered Siva to open his third eye from which Bhadra kali came out followed by Veerabhadran, who killed Daksha. The Veerabhadran form mentioned in this story is installed in this temple and is said to be very powerful.

Panayannar Devi Temple, Alappuzha

Another story related to this temple is that Parasurama after creating Kerala gave few areas to the brahmins in which parumala was one among the places. The brahmins divided into two sections each worshipping Shaiva and Vaishnava to construct Siva and Vishnu temple and to neglect Bhagavathi.

After many years as a result of the problem among the brahmins and to witness bloodstain near the temple, it understood through astrology that bhagavathi prathistta was conducted many years ago and thus reclaimed bhagavathy worshipping.

Adikal is the trustee of the temple and pooja rituals are now performed by brahmins. Shrayikoor kovilam is found to be associated with the temple. The prathistta faces the east side wherein other idols are seen to be facing from the north side. Idol is Daru shilpam and daily three pooja are offered and the Upadevatha’s are Karimkali, Kodumkali, Bhootakali, Kshetrapalan, Bhramarakshass, Bhuvaneshwari, Annapoorneshwari and inside the temple are Bhadrakali, Chanthadum bhagavathi, Veerabhadran, Saptha Mathrukas, Ganapathi (Has 32 gestures).

Saktheya prathishtta (Devi worship installations) associated to Rurujit-Vidhana, a Kashmiri Tantric style of worship is practiced here. The peculiar features of this temple are Nivethyam for Devi is offered before Deeparathana, elephants are not used for procession and absence of Kodiyeetu and Kodimaram in the temple.

Another feature of this temple is that the Eastside door of the temple always remains closed and we pray by focusing on shut doors of the temple. The reason can be mapped in folklore which says that the idol was installed by Durvsavu Maharshi in Dvapara era and when Naratha Maharshi approached Devi to offer pushpanjali, Devi reacted by throwing the peedam which even frightened Durvsavu Maharshi to understand and decide that no one can see Devi.

In divine form so the entrance should be closed permanently and Sreechakra to be installed on the right side of the temple. All the pooja is performed to the Sreechakra. The main festivals fall on medium first on Vishu festival, Sivarathri and Navarathri. Eighteen-acre sacred grove and 2 ponds inside the grove is found in the temple premises.

13. Muthoot Sri Bhadrakali Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta

Muthootkavu [15] is situated in the middle of Thiruvalla town, Pathanamthitta district. Tharayil kuzhikattu is the Tantram of temple and is said to be 725 years old. This temple shows similarity with Kodungallur temple. It is believed that bhagavathi directly came to Kodikunnu since her beloved and strong devotee was unable to go to temple every day due to his old age.

Upadevatha’s are Kshetrapalan, Saptha Mathrukas, Ganapathi, Veerabhadran, Yakshi,
Bhrahmarakshas, chitta, chirutha. The present Tantri is Akiraman Kalidasa Bhatathiripadu and Pathu Illathe Pottimar was the trustee but now is undertaken by NSS karayogam. In 1940 when the temple got fire the pooja rituals headed by adikals were taken up by brahmins to perform.

Muthoot Sree Bhadrakali Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta

The main installation is Bhadrakali but Rurujit-Vidhana pooja rituals are not practised here now. The idol faces the east and northside by Saptha Mathrukas. The deity with eight hands holding sword and weapons are offered with Kadumpayasam, Theralinedyam, Valyaguruthi.

The daily poojas are conducted three times a day. The main festival is Meena Bharani which lasts for three days. Previously, big Saktheya sacred groves and ponds were present here. The main trees are Kanjiram and Aalmaram.

5. Conclusion

When we look into Kashmir there were big temples like Sharathapeedam, Marthanda Temple which faced destruction. The people who followed this tradition are not to be found there but the culture still remains alive and all its beauty lies in the fact that it transferred from Kashmir to Kerala (distance is 2548 km) which is still practiced in many of the temples.

This paper is pure evidence to show that, the culture and traditions are still alive beyond time and regional boundaries. Through Kali, the Mother Goddess we can understand the true essence of a culture where nature is seen as our own mother and all the others as her children still exist.

This yatra also possesses a spiritual knowledge while visiting these 13 kavu and also inquisitions to know more about the culture from Kashmir to Kerala. I, personally visited all these 13 sacred groves in 4 days to imbibe a divine experience.

The main Significance of this Yatra helps us to understand the 13 Kali temples and its traditions in detail. In addition to the inexplicable spiritual experience, this pilgrimage will benefit the pilgrim towards a better understanding about the connection between mankind, nature and the divine.

The journey will mark as a pointer in further studies about the influence of Kashmiri Tantra -Rurujit-Vidhana in Kerala. As we all know Nature is in an agitated condition; Concerns like climate change, pollution, are taking us to an alarming situation. It is indeed important to understand, appreciate,and vitalize the traditions which protect Nature such as Kali Kavu which are closely aligned with the conservation and preservation of Nature through devotion.

6. References

1. S. A. S. Sarma, The Yāmala-tantras with special reference to the worship of Rurujit, 2015

2. Pillai, PK Narayana. “Sesasamuccaya with.” VimarSint Commen.

3. Olesen, Bjarne Wernicke. “Goddess Traditions in Tantric Hinduism.”

4. For a detailed report about the sacred groves , read Amritesh , 2017

5. Dewasom Book “Kshethramahatmyam”, Sri Thirumandakunnu bhagavathi temple,
Angadipuram, 1983.

6. “Ithehya purathana charithrasamgraham”, Sri Panayannarkavu, Parumala, 1998.

7. Dr. V. R. Chandran “Charithravum Acharanushtanagalum” Sri Kodungalluramma,
1990.

8. Freeman, Richard J. “Texts, temples, and the teaching of Tantra in Kerala.” The
Resources of History: Tradition, Narration and Nation in South Asia (1999): 63-79.

9. Prof. K.C. Vijayaraghavan, Prof K.M. Jayasree, “Charithravum Ithehyangalum”, Kollam
Sri. Pisharikavu, 2009.

10. Dr. N.P. Unni “The Tantrasanuccya of Narayana”, NAG Publishers, Delhi.

11. Mohanty, Seema. The Book of Kali. Penguin Books India, 2009.

12. Sanderson, Alexis. “The Śaiva Literature.” Journal of Indological Studies 24 (2012):
2012-2013.

13. Unnikrishnan, Sandhya M. “Visualizing Yakshi in the Religious History of Kerala.”
Heritage: Journal of Multi-disciplinary Studies in Archaeology 5 (2017): 757-777.

14. Ramunny, Murkot. Ezhimala: The Abode of the Naval Academy. Northern Book Centre,
1993.

15. Deepa, M. R., Sheema Dharmapal, and P. S. Udayan. “Medicinal plants in the selected
sacred groves of Kodungallur, Thrissur district, Kerala.” J Med Plants Studies4.3 (2016):
149-55.

(This paper was presented by Amritesh AR at Indic Yatra conference)

 

 


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