>> Temples in Kerala - Kollam

 Ammachiveedu Muhurthi Temple

This temple is situated in the town area. It was established by an aristocratic family called Ammachi Veedu (Ammachi home). Here there is no idol. The deity is the Guru (teacher) of Dharma Sastha of the Sasthamkotta temple. Impressed by the marriage ceremony rituals conducted by Ammachi Veed elders Dharmasastha voluntarily gave the deity to the eldest in the family. This beneficiary is seated on the right side of supposed deity and is known as Brahma Rakshas. The members of the family are debarred from entering the premises of Shasthamkotta temple as the deity of the family temple occupies the position of a Guru (teacher). On behalf of the family Poojas (homages) have to be performed in Shasthamkotta temple on all auspicious occasions as a custom.
A Peedam (a small siting platform) compensates the idol here. It is installed in a small room of 4’x 4’x 6’. There are two conches over the Peedam which is insulated by silver sheet. There is a Sarpakavu (snake grove) near the temple. Parappooramma Bhagawathi, Nagaraja (snake king), Nagayakshi (devil spirit of snake) and Naga Kanyaka (snake virgin-girl) are installed. The Sarpa bali (snake sacrifice) and Noorum Palum (food and milk to snakes) ceremony are conducted by the Tantri (priest) of Pampummekkattu Mana of Mala in Thrissur district (Mana is dwelling structure of Brahmins). The temple has several sub-deites seated outside. They are Rektha Chamundi, Ganapathy, Paramparu, Marutha, Yakshi, Gandharvan, Rekshas, Vethalan, Yogeshwaran etc. Outside the temple premises there is the installation of a deity called Ginnu who is mainly worshipped by Muslim community.
Ammachiveedu Muhurthi is considered very powerful to ward off evils and deliver prosperity to the devotees. There is no caste bar here. The people of all castes and creeds throng to this temple.
The annual festival lasts 10-day. It begins in Dhanu (December/January) after the Mandala Pooja in Sabarimla Dhrama Sastha temple. There is an unexplained treaty between Ammachiveedu and Sabarimala temple. The members of Ammachiveedu are forbidden from undertaking pilgrimage to Sabarimala. On the concluding day of the festival the eldest male in the family conducts the rituals. These rituals are carried out in a Kalam (multi-colour powder drawn circle).


 Dharmasasftha Temple at Sasthamkotta

The deity here is Lord Ayyappa. Here the temple roof is of corrugated GI sheets as against tiles in most of the shrines in Kerala. This is just to save the roof from the wrath of monkeys in large number as if they are the devotees. The custom here is that devotees have to step on the droppings of the primate. The temple is close to Sasthamkotta lake which meets the drinking water needs of the entire district.

 Kodimootil Sri Bhadrakali Temple

It is a family temple of Kodimootil family.Located at Paripally in Kalluvathukkal Panchayat. This shrine is co-related to Mandakkadu Devi temple. The story behind the co-relation is interesting. The eldest male member of the Kodimootil family was a staunch believer of Kandakkadu Devi. He used to light oil lamp assumed for Devi in the premises of his home and prayed before it. Later this task was entrusted to his young grand daughter. One day when she came to light the lamp she noticed a a soil mount like the one created by white ants on the side of lighting spot. She removed it and went through the process of lighting. Next day she again noticed soil mount which too she removed. This process continued for days and ultimately she reported the matter to the grand father. He visualized the presence of Devi and conducted a Devaprasanam (astrological verification) when his visualization was confirmed. Soon after, he raised a temple and installed the deity.
The co-relation is also reflected in the festivals in these two temples. The 10-day festival ends on the last Monday of Kumbam (February/March) whereas in Mandakkadu temple the festival concludes on the last Tuesday of Kumbam. The one day difference in the concluding days at both the temples is to enable the eldest male of Kodimootil family to go to the Mandakkadu temple with Irumudikettu (auspicious bundle containing sanctified food items on the head) to participate in the final day of festival in Mandakkadu temple as obligatory.
The 10-day festival begins with Pongala on the 1st day in which several thousands of women participate. The next important event is Paduka which is a ritual found only here. The devotees together with relatives and neighbours collect ritual items and bring them in baskets to the temple with Vadyagosham (percussion musics). This procedure is Paduka. It is done region-wise in order to control the crowd. The concluding day is earmarked for Shayana Pradikshana. Devotee blinds his eyes with cloth bandage and both the hands (stretched) and both the legs (stretched) tied with cloth. Thereafter lay bare body in the outer courtyard ground of the temple and circamambulate three times. This is Shayana Pradikshana. This ritual starts from 4 in the morning. The individuals with Vritam (fast) who participate in this ritual come accompanied by percussion musics and artifacts. Several people participate in this ritual.
Samooha Vivaham (community marriage) is also arranged at the expense of the temple during the festival. Navaratri festival is celebrated with gaiety. Sangeetolsvam (music festival), Vidyarambam (initiation to letters), Bhagwatha Saptaham (Bhagwatgeetha reading) are also conducted during Navarathri.


 Parampathukulangara Sri Mahakshetram

This kshetram (temple) is located at Manapally north. It is also known as Pavumbakali kshetram. Shiva, Parvathi and Pavumbakali (Abhishta Varadayini) are main deities. In glorification Pavumbakali is in the front. Here there is no caste or religion bar. People from all religions come to get rid of their awes and accomplish wishes.
There is an interesting legend behind this temple. Here the rituals were performed by a Brahmin boy. He fell in love with a girl of tribal Kurava community. The caste discrimination forced the parents of the boy to oppose the affair, though the girl had become pregnant. The despaired boy committed suicide. Harassed and humiliated girl cut her head with a sickle which resulted in her untimely death. Her soul turned belligerent and took position in Sri Mahakshetram where the Brahmin boy was a priest. Thereafter the temple attained more divine power and devotees multiplied.
The temple has sub-deities. Sastha, Ganapathy, Nagaraja, Nagayakshi, Madan, Yakshi and Kallelil Appuppan who has blood relation with Kali Devi are the sub-deities. The beautifully sculptured temple attracts many. It has two Dhwajastambams (flag masts).


 Puthiyakavu Bhagawathi Temple

This shrine is located in the town itself. Bhagawathi in the form of Parvathi is so powerful she can save or sieze at her will. It is presumed, Bhadrakali of Kalighat in Kokatta who was worshipped by Vivekanda Swamy and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahans is also the deity in Puthiyakavu.
8-day festival is conducted in Meenam (March/April) in which thousands participate.
Pongala is celebrated in the last Friday of Kumbam (February/March). Thousands of ladies offer Pongala (rice preparation or rice kheer) to the deity and get relief from illness and accomplish wishes.
Kanyaka Pooja (virgin-girl homages) on Durgashtami day, Saubhagya Pooja (ritual for luck) on Makam day of Karkidakkam (July/August), and Vilakku Puja (lamp homage) on Pournamy day (full moon day) are very glorified ceremonies conducted here. Women devotees come in masses for these ceremonies.


 Sri Uma Maheshwara Swamy Temple

The legend says that Uma (Parvathi) and Maheshwara (Shiva) came down from the peak of Kailasa mountain in Himalaya to the Agastya mountain and finally reached Kollam town. Amazed by the beauty of Kollam articulated by beautiful gardens, palaces and royal highways, Shiva told Parvathi : one who visits Kollam will desert his/her Illam (Illam is a Brahminical idiom for home). The beauty of the place persuaded them to stay for the night and they located a banyan tree to rest under. The sculptor Venkiteshwaran who was living nearby had a dream in that night that he should build a temple for Shiva and Parvathi under the banyan tree. Obeyingly he constructed a temple and installed the idols of Uma and Maheshwara which later glorified into Mahaskhetra (big temple). Here both the deities are on a single Peedam (small platform).
No religious discrimination. Everybody is welcome. When Chinese, Parsis, Portuguese and Brits were here they used to come for the accomplishment of their wishes. The attitude of Shiva and Parvathi is: demand and get. Swayamvara Archana is a simple ritual for availing good marriage alliance whereas Uma Maheshwara Pooja and Ganapathi Homam (Homam is a bonfire ritual) are aimed at nullifying the ill-effects pronounced in the horoscopes.
The temple festival is in the month of Edavam (May/June).


 Twin Temples, Cheriazheeakal

The Sri Kashi Viswanathar Temple is also known as Deccan Kashi Temple. The legend behind the twin temples is interesting. A priest who went to Kashi chanced upon a Shivalingam when he dipped in the Gages. He brought back the Lingam and installed here. There is another legend. There was a temple dedicated to Laard Vishnu 2000 years ago at the same site. This temple was washed away by the sea and a new one was built about 150 years ago. And today two temples at a site existed as reality. Mahashivaratri is celebrated for 10 days to appease Lord Shiva in one temple and Sri Krishna Jayanti to appease Lord Sri Krishna in the other temple.Cheriazheekal is located west to Amritapuri.


 Wadekkenadayil Bhagawathi Temple

This 1800 years old temple is just opposite to the twin temples. The original temple was taken away by sea and the present one was built 10 years ago. Kannagi is the deity here. The idol was brought from the now sea-eaten Chola city of Kaveri Poompattinam off the east-coast of TamilNadu. In the 2nd week of May a 10-day long Thottampattu Utsavam is celebrated when Kannagi’s story enshrined in the Tamil epic Silppadhikaram is enacted.


 Devi Temple at Thevalakkara

This 1000 years old temple is situated about 14 km from Alumkadavu. There is an interesting story behind the temple. Portuguese attempted to rob the temple, but their attempt resulted futile. When they tried to leave the area their ship did not move. Sensing trouble they apologised for their misdeed and put their repentance in writing on black stone. The writing is still visible. In between the sanctum sanctorum and the main door the inscription can be seen.
Outside the temple there is a papal and palm tree which grow together. A yakshi (lady demon) lives on top of the palm, the locals believe.


 Ochira Temple

Ochira is situated 17 km away from the town. There is no temple in the real sense. Around big trees in vast open area there are exposed small idols. Some idols are of female forces attributed to Shakti (power) and the others are of Parabrahmam, the omnipresent. To the right of the idols surrounded trees is an Ayyappa swamy kshetram (temple) constructed similar to Sabarimala temple, and to the left is a mosque. Ochiria is also considered an omnipresent Shiva kshetra. The visitors can see the Ochira Kaala. The decorated Ochira bulls symbolize Shiva’s vehicle, the Nandi. There is a famous festival called Ochira kali festival in June. During this festival men dressed as warriors enact mock war standing in the lake. People of various religious faiths visit this omnipresent temple and the legend is that Buddha had once camped here.


 Malanada Duryodhana Temple

27 km away from the town and near Alumkadavu. The idol-less temple is dedicated to the notorious Kaurava. Duryodhana was served food and water when he was found tired by the low-cast Kuruvas here during his pursuit of Pandavas. As a custom, the priest of the temple is from Kuruva community. The rituals and customs are Dravidian. Animal sacrifice was a usual practice here earlier. Following vehement protests from enlightened citizens this deplorable practice is discontinued now. During worship a rooster wanders around symbolically. In the 2nd Friday of Meenam (March/April) there is festival when Duryodana’s favoured beverage toddy is brought by the devotees as offering. As the toddy is in great demand during this day, the devotees who are unable to get toddy bring tamboolam (betel nut and arcecanut),red silk or a rooster as offering. Malanad is located 14 km away from Sasthamkottra.


 Shri Dharmasastha Kshetram at Kulathupuzha

This Ayyappa temple has a unique ritual practice. It is Meenoottu, feeding of fish. The feeding is done in the nearby lake with peanuts and puffed rice. Seeing the feeds, fish in large numbers suddenly converge and eat in a frenzy mood – a joyful sight to watch. The bridge over the lake provides a good view of the eating fish. The temple was constructed by the Raja of Kottarakara. The festival lasting10 days is in Medam (precisely from April 5 to 14). The temple is located 10 km from Thenmala.