Attukal Bhagavathi

Attukal Bhagavathi

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kadampuzha Devi

Sree Parvathy reigns supreme as Goddess Vana Durga at Kadambuzha and is considered as one of the most prominent Devi temples in Kerala. The term 'puzha' which means 'river' is a misnomer here since the otherwise sylvan surroundings and verdant greenery around the glade has no river skirting it. The idol in the Sanctum Sanctorum is abstract in shape but it is 'Swayambhoo' or natural in manifestation. The temple is very simple in architecture without any imposing edifices or a gold-plated flag-mast. There are no festival processions or drum concerts. But the multitude of birds nestling on the verge of the green belt provide a natural ambience with their continous chirping and it is fully in tune with Kerala's temple culture as an epitome of preservation of ecological balance.

Legend about the origin of the temple is associated with the popular episode in the Mahabharatha where Arjuna does penance to appease Lord Siva to obtain the divine weapon Pashupathasthra(The divine arrow of shiva/pashupathi). Lord Siva approaches Arjuna as a hunter (Kiratha) with his consort Sree parvathi escorting him as a huntress. When Arjuna tried to hunt down a wild boar with his arrows, Shiva also aimed his mighty arrows at the animal. A squabble started for the better part of the hunt and within no time got accentuated into a fearsome battle. Parvathi turned the arrows which Arjuna showered on Lord Siva into flowers. Arjuna stood awe-struck as he couldn't believe his eyes. He understood that the person whom he has been fighting to is not a silly hunter and the lady who is seen by the hunter's side is not a mere jungle-woman and prostrates before them. Pleased by this, both Shiva and Parvathy revealed their true form. Having found Arjuna worthy of the deadly weapon, Shiva gave him the same as well as the hymn to empower it.

The shower of arrows turned into flowers quite miraculously is symbolised here by a unique offering to the Goddess, the Poomoodal. The Swayambhoo Sthanam being covered completely by flowers or petals of Thechi(Jungle flame) flowers as they resemble arrowheads. The quantity required is 12 Kutanna, one Kutanna being the capacity when two cupped palms are held together. During the divine couple's wandering in this forest, Sreeparvathi once felt thirsty and the Lord brought forth holy water from river Ganga through a well directed arrow ino the earth. This event is immortalised as Kaadan Ambu-eitha-ala where kaadan is hunter, ambu is arrow, eitha is shot and ala is hole. This became Katanambueithaala which was later colloquialised as Kadampuzha. Devotees thus worship the hole through which river Ganga sprouted and this is the idol sankalpa.
Shankaracharya during once of his frequent pilgrimages while traversing this forest area was attracted by an all pervading aura emanating from the dense undergrowth. Finding it difficult to approach the spot due to the immense heat generated by the radiation, he prayed Lord Vishnu as Narasimha and the Lord appeared. With the help of Sudarshana chakra of Lord Vishnu the great saint moved closer only to fmd the radiance shrinking and fmally vanishing into a hole on the earth's surface. Through deep meditation using the 'Divyachakshussu'(supernatural gift to know the unknowns), the Acharya discerned the nature of the phenomenon nothing other than
the divine presence of Sree parvathi in the forest. A temple was built at the place and in commemoration of 'shower of flowers' , Poomoodal gained prominence due to the inherent quality and power of flower petals to absorb heat. Lord Narasimha and Sudarshanachakra are honoured through depictions in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum. There are enclosures for Sree Dharma Sastha and Nagakanyaka as upadevaas or subsidiary deities. Modalities of worship are as prescribed by Shankaracharya.

Goddess here is worshipped in three forms, Vidya Durga (Saraswathi), Vanadurga(Durga/parvathy) and Aadi Durga (Moola Durga Lakshmi). As Durga, She blesses the devotees with health, early marriage and domestic harmony. Saraswathi is invoked for education and career. Lakshmi is of course Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Another unique offering here is 'Muttarukkal' where coconuts brought by devotees are broken by the priest in front of Devi's idol in the presence of the devotees themselves and this is to ward off hostile influences plaguing them. One coconut for every obstacle is the system followed. The popularity of this ritual can be gauged from the figure of more than thirty lakhs of coconuts that are brought to the temple every year by the stream of devotees. The other important sevas are Kadinapayasam, Rakthapushpanjali, Choroonu (Annaprasam), Dehapushpanjali, Thrimadhuram, Thrikalapooja, Kettu-nira,Vilakkumala,Malapooja, Neyyu-vilakku, Ganapathi Homam, Niramala etc.

The temple is far from the bustle of city life, just about two kilometres east of Vettichira between Valanchery and Kottakkal on NH 17. Those who prefer train journey can alight at Kuttipuram or Tirur Railway Station from where there are buses to the temple which is 19Kms away.

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