Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ARTHUNKAL St.ANDREWS FORANE CHURCH

Kerala , a small state near the southern tip of India has several unique qualities.The state
was always  in forefront for education  and literacy. Kerala  earned 100% literacy several years back.The
people are very social,broadminded and mingles with others easily and hence works in almost
all parts of the world.Communal riots, religious clashes etc  are very rare in this state and the people lives in religious harmony helping each other.The first Christian Church in India was
established in Kerala and the first Muslim Mosque in India was also established in Kerala.
Hindus participates in Christian and Muslim ceremonies and festivals and  they also co-operate
with Hindus in the same way.As a custom Non- Hindus are not permitted inside Hindu temples 
but Christians and Muslims take part in their celebrations and enter up to the place where 
they are permitted to and also provide offerings and contributions.Hindus also participates in
celebrations of other religions and do all  possible help.Hindus worship in
several Churches and Mosques where they have faith and one of the most sacred churches in
Kerala where millions of devotees approach in full devotion and with faith where several Hindus also visit  is 'Arthunkal
ST.Andrews Forane Church which is situated at Arthunkal in Cherthala near Alapuzha.
                             Arthunkal St.Andrews Forane Church has been elevated to Basilica on July 9,
2010.It is the first Basilica of Alleppey diocese and the  seventh Basilica in Kerala.The upgrade
to Basilica is an important milestone in the history of Arthunkal Church.It was the first Parish
in Alleppey diocese.
The church was originally built by Portuguese  missionaries in the 16th century.The church was rebuilt in 1584 under the then vicar Fr.Jacoma Fenicio whom the devotees claimed possessed magical powers to heal body and mind ailments.Devotees fondly referred him as 'Arthunkal  Veluthachan'.He died in the year 1632.Eight years after his death the church was rebuilt again.
In 1647 the statue of St.Sebastian struck with arrows all over his bleeding body(he was executed for embracing Christian Faith) sculptured in Milan was brought and placed in Arthunkal church.The statue of St.Sebastian was brought  for a Church in Madras City
but the ship carrying it stopped at 'BaikkalPort' and it was consecrated at Arthunkal Church.
Many people believes that prayers through his intervention helps devotees to heal their
ailments of mind and body.Several handicapped people got cured by his blessings.
The feast of St.Sebastian attracts large number of devotees from India and all parts of the world.It is celebrated in January every year for eleven days.The last day 'Octave' is on 
January 20 and a minor feast is held on the eighth day known as ' Ettam Perunnal'. This feast also has earned fame as the Principal feast.On these days procession to the beach attracts



large number of devotees.
On the 27 January midnight the Statue of St.Sebastian will be placed back in the locker.Another small statue will be placed there for another 40 days.This marks end of
"Arthunkal Perunnal."
Sabarimala devotees coming back from Sabarimala temple  visits Arthunkal Church, takes bath
in the tank attached to the church or in the sea and  do worship in the Church and make offerings.Many people have the belief that Sabarimala Ayyappan and St.Sebastian are brothers.
The Sabarimala pilgrims going from Erumeli enters "Vavar Muslim Mosque" and do prayers
and Offerings and then only proceed to Sabarimala.Devotees coming along Arthunkal Christian Church enters there and do prayers and offerings.We can not see such a religious
harmony elsewhere.
In the annual feast of the church lakhs of people participates.Those who have received favors from the Saint Participates in the procession back from the beach on their knees
known as 'Nirangu Nercha' .Many devotees mainly on January 26 performs 'Urul Nercha' by
rolling on the ground from beach chapel to the church which is more than one  kilometer holding
bow and arrow in their hands.
Devotees offer Gold and silver replica of body parts,bow and arrow,rice,pepper,salt and cash.
Several materials like blessed oil,blessed 'Payasam', CD's ,Books,Candles,Pendents, etc are
available at the Church stall.
Details regarding Prayers,Novena,other types of offerings,Booking of Holy Mass etc can
be known from the Church Office.
Transport Facilities
The Church can be reached by Bus,Car and Train.The nearest railway Station is Cherthala(6km).Alapuzha town which is the district headquarters is only 22 km.
Nedumbassery Int'l Airport (Cochin) is only 80 km  from Arthunkal Church.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DEVI KANYAKUMARI

The deity at Kanyakumari temple is famous as Devi Kanya Kumari and also known as 'Kumari
Amman'  'Bhagavathy Amman' etc and she is mentioned in Upanishads,Yajur Veda,Ramayana
Mahabharatha etc.The temple dates back to more than 3000 years and it is also believed that
the consecration of the deity was done by Lord Parasurama.
It is famous that Lord Parasurama created Kerala which extended from Gokarnam to Kanya Kumari.In a  Poem the patriotic  Poet Vallathol  describes Kerala as "Pachayam virippitta Sahyanil thala
 vechum swachadri manalthittam padopadhanam poondum palli kondeedunna nin parswa yugmathe kathu kollunnu Kumariyum Gokarnesanum Amme." 
According to the poem Kerala is protected by  temple deity at 'Gokarna' and temple deity of
'Kanya Kumari' at the extreme two ends.
The district of Kanya Kumari which was famous as 'Nanchi Nadu' during the course of time 
was under rule of Cheras,Pandyas ,Cholas etc.During Anizham Thirunal Marthavarma's reign when he formed Travancore these areas were part of Travancore and remained like that till
1947.Later it became part of Tamil Nadu State when states were formed in Independent India. The Pooja rituals followed at Kanya Kumari
temple is as per Kerala tradition  now also.
The deity at Kanyakumari temple is a form of Aadi Parashakti( who is Parvathi and Durga itself).A demon by name 'Banasura'  got blessing from Brahma Deva that he could not be killed by anybody 
except a Virgin girl.The arrogant Demon afterwards annoyed the  Semi Gods and humans 
by all wretched activities that the  Devas conducted a Yagna to Propitiate Aadi Parasakti as
per instructions from Lord Vishnu.
Aadi Parashakti took the form of a Virgin girl and appeared on the rocks of Kanyakumari and

started a penance.She wanted to marry the Lord 'Thanumalaya' (Lord Shiva ) of Shuchindra
temple which is situated 11 km from Kanyakumari.Lord Shiva also was happy for the marriage
and the auspicious occasion of the marriage ceremony was fixed  which was midnight of 
a particular day.Everything required for the ceremony was arranged at Kanyakumari by

the Goddess and her associates including the feast for the participants.
At night the bridegroom Lord Shiva and his group started from Shucheendram to Kanyakumari for the function but Sage  Narada and Devendra meanwhile had another plan.
They were afraid that if the marriage would take place the virginity of Goddess  might be lost.
The Goddess took her form as Virgin Devi to kill the demon Banasura and the priority had to be for that issue  and so on the way
Narada took the form of a rooster bird and crowed hindering the rise of dawn.Lord Shiva hearing the sound of the bird 
said that the auspicious time of marriage was  past and everybody returned back.Actually

Lord Shiva was reminded by Narada the intention of Devi's incarnation and the necessity of slaying the Demon  by his rooster bird's false  crowing act.
Lord Shiva understood that preference should be for slaying the Demon and not for marriage and so he turned back.Of course  God Shiva was sure that it was not dawn.

Devi Kanyakumari waited for Lord Shiva and when it was almost dawn she understood that
her marriage would not happen.All the food materials were thrown to the beach which all

turned to be colorful sand particles and shells.Different colored sand particles resembling rice and cereals are seen on the beaches of Kanyakumari.
The  Banasura approached Devi  and proposed to marry her.She denied his request and told

 him that  she  would be a virgin only and liked  to perform penance.The demon tried to take
and carry her away by force.The Devi  in her fury  killed him
with a  trident.The people and Devas  felt very happy on that occasion.Devi decided to

stay there in penance as a virgin for ever protecting the land and devotees.
The temple is surrounded by big walls which extends near to the sea.The confluence of

three seas Arabian Sea,Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean and the presence of Devi
 Kanyakumari  makes this place very sacred.This is the only place in the world from where

both Sun rise and Sunset can be seen clearly and beautifully.
The deity of the temple is in standing posture and resembles a beautiful young girl.She is always wearing a garland and have a precious nose jewel which have a sparkling radiance.

It is said that in the olden days the nose ring studded with rubies  was possessing highly glittering power that it could be seen from high seas.It  was  mistook for a  lighthouse

by the passing ships that some ships hit on rocks.Now a days the eastern  gate  opening to the sea side is kept closed and  opened on five occasions only in an year in connection with some festivals.
There are shrines of 'Vijaya Sreedevi' and 'Balasreedevi'   here and considered as friends
and playmates of Devi Kanya Kumari.
The  temple has several festivities celebrated like 'Kalabham festival' in the month of Karkidakam.On the last Friday of that month large quantities of flowers are brought and
covered the deity using them.
Navaratri festival is celebrated for nine days and there is 'Navarathri Mandapam' for these
functions in the temple.Every day on those days there will be processions also.On Vijaya

 Dasami day Devi will be mounted on a horse and a procession conducted to a nearby place 
known as 'Mahadanapuram.'
Annual festival is for ten days .
Transport Faclilities
Easily accessed by Buses and Trains.Buses to all parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala ,Karnataka
etc are available at Kanyakumari.Trivandrum is the nearest Air Port which is situated only
at a distance of 85 km.







Friday, May 18, 2012

SREE KRISHNA TEMPLE, UDUPI

Udupi is one of the very famous Sree Krishna Temple of South India.The place got renowned because of the
temple and both the place and temple are known as 'Udupi'.
The legend is that  Lord Parasurama retrieved place from the sea by throwing  his axe  from Gokarnam to
Kanyakumari and distrubuted to the Brahmins.When the land was fully distributed he thought of owning a small
portion of land himself.He again threw his axe to the sea and annexed to the previous portion of land the new
area which was achieved and made  his disciple 'Ramabhojan' as the King of that place.
King 'Bhoja' during the course of his reign determined to perform 'Aswamedha Yagna' and could perform it
successfully even though there were several problems to overcome which was all  triumphantly settled.Lord Parasurama was also pleased and declared that the place where the 'Yagna' was held would be thereafter known
as 'Rupya Peeth' and that it would turn to be a pilgrimage center.That place 'Rupyapeeth' in course of time
became 'Udupi'.According to another legend  in this place ' Chandra Bhagawan'(Moon God) performed penance to get rid off the curse effect of 'Daksha'.Lord Shiva appeared before him and blessed him.This place
is 'Chandra Mouleeswar' also because of that incidence.A temple in that name exists here.In Kannada language 'Udu'
means 'Star'.Udupa means God of stars.
Udupi got famous because of  a Saint 'Swami Madhwacharya' who was born in A.D. 1238 on a 'Vijayadasami' day.He was the founder and preacher of 'Dwaitha Philosophy'.He lived the life as a 'Sanyasi'

and was serving at 'Anantheswar temple' near Udupi as his main seat for preaching his views and philosophy.
One day at the age of 79 in the year 1317 while he was teaching his students there at that temple  he suddenly disappeared
and never seen afterwards.That day is considered as his 'Samadhi Day'.
He was the person who consecrated Sreekrishna idol at Udupi temple.He employed four disciples to administer the temple activities.
It is believed that the idol of Sreekrishna in this temple was created  by Sree Krishna himself  in 'Dwapara Yuga'
using 'Salagramas'(Typical sacred stones of Gandaki River of Nepal).Once Krishna's mother wanted to see
the 'playful pranks' of little Krishna which he showed as illusion to 'Devaki Mother' and wife 'Rugmini'.When
Rugmini felt impressed by the little Krishna she urged Lord Krishna to provide her an idol of 'little Krishna'
for her to revere. He created  such an idol with the help of 'Viswakarma' and the idol was revered by Rugmini at Dwaraka.After the decline of Dwaraka it  somehow reached a trader after several centuries  and was being brought in a wooden ship along with other wealthy materials.Madhwacharya understood about this in a vision and proceeded to the seashore where he saw the ship struggling in a tempest.Saint Madhwacharya stopped the
tempest with his mental power and the ship anchored at that place known as 'Vadabhandeswar'.and when the ship was rescued the Captain of the Ship offered him all the wealth in the ship.He
answered that he knew by his mind power  that there was a Krishna idol in the ship and he needed that
only and was waiting  for it.The captain gave him the idol which the 'Swamiji' consecrated at 'Udupi'
After several generations that temple and place have grown to be one of the most famous pilgrimage center.
                                           Instead of door in the front part of the temple we see  there a window.The main
entrance is on the southern side.On the right side there is a pond by name 'Madhwa sarovar' or 'Madhwa
 Pushkarani'.The idol in the 'Sanctum Sanctorum'  is facing west.
Very near to this temple complex  'Anandeswar temple' and 'Chandra Mouleeswar' temple are situated.
The main festival of this temple is 'Saptholsavam' which starts five days prior to 'Makara Sankrama(January)
and continues for seven days.On the 'Sankrama day' night will be the grand and peak festivities are  being done.
There will be processions carrying the idols  on boats and in the temple cars on these days.The devotees
pulling the decorated temple cars accompanied with  color,pageantry,music dance,floats,etc etc will be a
spectacular event on those days.
On 'Vishu' day (Mostly on April 14) 'Radholsavam' (Procession of temple cars) will be held too.
Once in two years either on January 17 or 18 'Paryaya Mahotsava' which is another grand scale festival is celebrated.'Rama Navami and Mahwa Navami' are two other festival days.In the month of March "kamadahana' festival is held.In the month of May 'Narasimha Jayanthi' is celebrated.Another festival is
Vasantholsavam which are special pooja rituals held for two months period.
At Udupi Sreekrishna Temple sweets and dishes of a large variety are prepared and offered to God.This
is  being done for centuries and by practice and research 'Sivali Madhwa Brahmins of Udupi' became
expert cooks to prepare vegetarian food,dishes and sweets.They  are employed in vegetarian hotels all
over India and abroad.They starts their own restaurants in  big cities and becoming successful because of their expertise in this field.
Transport Facilities






Udupi is situated 60 km from Mangalapuram in Karnataka State..There are so many buses plying from Bus Station and
Railway Station to Udupi from Mangalapuram.The trains via Konkan stops at Udupi Railway Station.
The distance from Mangalapuram Airport to Udupi is 50 km.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thrikkodithanam Mahavishnu Temple

Thrikkodithanam Mahavishnu Temple is situated 2km from Changabacherry on the outskirts of the Municipality.This is the fifth and last of the five Pandava Mahavishnu Temples established by  them in Kerala
in and around Chengannur.Yudhistira established his temple at Chengannur,Bheema at Puliyoor in  Chengannur,
Arjuna at Aranmula,Nakula at Thiruvanvandoor and  youngest brother established his temple at 'Thrikkodithanam in Changanacherry.
This belongs to the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu known as 'Divya Desams' and belongs to one among this
category of eleven temples in Kerala.
The 'Nammalvar' poets praised about the five Pandava temples and other Divya Desams in their hymns.
The deity of this temple is called as 'Athbutha Narayanan'.The belief is that all other brothers got perfect  Mahavishnu
idols for them to revere (which they consecrated in places mentioned above) but a suitable idol was not found
by 'Sahadeva'  after a long search and penance.He determined to end his life by jumping in to pyre but to everybody's astonishment a beautiful 'Chaturbahu idol(having four hands) which is made out of 'Krishna Sila(black granite)
emerged out of the fire.Thus the idol   got fame as 'Athbutha Narayanan'.At the base of the idol there is a
small idol of closely embracing form of ' Lakshmi Narayana' and another small idol of Lord Vishnu which the latter is used for processions and other rituals like 'Sreebali'.Nammalvar referred about Goddess 'Karpagavally' in his book which must be Goddess Lakshmi.By visiting this temple we get blessings of "Lakshmi and Narayanan'.
The compound wall of this temple is believed to be built by 'Bhootams(Demons)  in a single night and it  dates back to 7th


century.It is 102 meters long on each sides and 12 feet high and made up of natural  mud stone blocks.No cement or any adhesives are used in its construction and so it is an architectural  delight.
On the eastern side and western side there are entrance 'Gopurams' .On the eastern side tall golden flagstaff
is existing and on the western side also another brass plated flagstaff exists.
On the eastern side near  Gopuram a statue of a Brahmin wearing a crown and holding a conch  in lying posture
is elevated on a pillar which denotes that  bribing,dishonesty and cheating will not be tolerated but punished.
                                                 Facing west of the 'Sreekovil' of Mahavishnu is existing the 'Sreekovil' of
'Narasimhamoorthy' who is referred as 'Satru Samhara moorthy'.The idols of Ayyappa and Ganapathy are situated outside Nalambalm  and there is Naga Raja and Naga Yakshi also.On the North side Bhadrakali idol
 is installed beside by Rakshas , the guardian of the temple.
The main offerings of this temple are 'Palpayasam,Kadumpayasam,Panakam,Kadali Pazham' etc.
Compound wall of the temple
During the festival a unique ritual known as 'Deepam festival' is conducted here.Legend is that when the death of his mother 'Madri' was informed Sahadeva tried to jump in to fire with overwhelmed grief but
he was consoled by others.Hundreds of 'Sarakoodams' one on top of other is lighted to represent this myth.
The burnt ashes are taken as 'Prasadam'.
According to Divya Desam texts deity Mahavishnu of this temple is called as 'Amrutha Narayana Perumal' and he is residing here with Lakshmi Devi who here has the name as 'Karpagavally'.
According to the texts and beliefs the 'Vaishnavites'  also consider this temple and the deity 'Athbutha Narayanan'.
highly sacred and unique since out of the 108 Divya Desam temples there are only three important 'Kadigai'
temples in India and Thrikkodithanam temple is one among them.The other two Kadigai temples are 'Thiru
Kadigai at Sholigur and 'Thiru Kandam(Kadinagar) at Devapriya (North).
It is  said that " Stay here for one Kadigai and attain salvation'.One kadigai is 24 minutes and we are told to pray to Athbutha Narayanan for 24 minutes in front of the sanctum and you will be liberated from all sins and curses.
Transport Facilities
Changanacherry Railway station is only 2km  from the temple.
The temple is in Kottayam District and distance to the district headquarters' Kottayam Town' is only 25km.

Friday, May 4, 2012

St.GEORGE FORANE CHURCH, EDATHUA

St.George Forane Church, Edathua is a prominent and progressive Church in Kerala situated at Edathua of
Alapuzha District.It is only just 12 km from Thiruvalla town and can be reached very easily.The Church is under the Archdiocese of Changanacherry.
It was established on 29 Sep 1810 and earlier known as St.Mary's Church,Koilmukku.The Church has become very famous and devotees from far and near and abroad flow here in thousands.The blessing and intervention of St.George is sought by people belonging to all religions and sectors in large number.
The faithful people of Edathua was aspiring for a new Church of their own from very long when new Churches were consecrated in nearby areas.New Church was established at Alapuzha in the year 1100, at Alapuzha
Purakkadu in 1410,at Pulincunnu in 1657 and the Edathua people could establish their Church in 1810.





The people desired to get a statue of St.George for the Church and the search for it ended at Edapally Church 
and while bringing it certain miracles happened.The unusual happenings while bringing the statue made to believe that the Saint's miraculous power accompanied the Statue.
In the course of time there were several miraculous happenings and the devotees firmly felt the presence and
experienced the blessings of the Saint.
By praying to the Saint many mental and physical ailments of several people were cured.Protection from snake 
bites and protection while fishing in the sea were experienced by many devotees.At the time of nearby danger they all prayed to the Saint of Edathua Church and they were all saved by him.Such devotees from very far
places used to come to the Church to express their love and gratitude.
Once a man  from Tamil Nadu while going to Alapuzha on his rowing boat lost his oar in the water and his
boat was drifted in the water currents and he lost the way.The man was in panic and he prayed to St.George
of Edathua Church  in deep devotion in his mind.His boat was guided by the wind to to the Edathua Church
ghat where the Saint appeared before him and handed over the oar to him.There are hundreds of miracles like this happening always in this Church.
The annual festival of Edathua Church will be held in a grand manner.Special programs
and holy masses will be held on those days in which millions of people  will attend.The festival  is famous as 'Edathua Perunnal'.  A  Feast   is  served to the 
devotees on these days   in which several thousands of people  participates  belonging to other religions also.
Every year millions of people visit this church and participates in the divine activities of the Church and receive the blessings of St.George.Edathua has turned to be a highly reputed pilgrim center of South India.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

St.GEORGE ORTHODOX CHURCH (PUTHUPALLY PALLY)

The Church at Puthupally is one of the oldest and Prominent shrines of Malankara Orthadox Church.
The Church at Puthupally was established as a Shrine of Changanacherry Pally which was a shrine of 'Niranam




Pally' which in turn was consecrated by St.Thomas.
Puthupally is a beautiful serene place and because of the presence of this church the place itself has turned
to be divine.Puthupally is only 8km from Kottayam town and can be reached easily.Large number of devotees visit this Church everyday. There are devotees coming to this famous church from all over India and abroad
who needs the blessing through intervention of St.George.
The annual festival of this Church is a grand function in which millions of people participates irrespective of
religion, cast and creed.The main festival days are known as 'Puthupally Valia Perunnal Days'.
On the  flag hoisting occasion  thousands of devotees will be  participating.There will be
holy masses and other special programs during  the 'Valia perunnal'.
There will be feast in grand scale served to millions of devotees on the festival days..People
belonging to all religions participates in this grand  ceremonial feast of St.George.
One day prior to that there is a procession by which fire wood is brought to the church by male members
of  all the families in the locality known as 'Virakideel'
At night a colorful  procession is held to Puthupally Junction known as 'Rhasa' in which large number of devotees
accompany in devotion.People on the either side of the road greets the Rhasa with lighted wick lamps and
candles.
The feast during the Perunnal days at Puthupally pally is known as 'Vechoottu'.People from far and near
visit the Church on those days to get the blessings of St.George.