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Vadakkumnathan Temple At Thrissur Pooram In Kerala

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Introduction

Vadakkumnathan Temple is situated in Thrissur, Kerala. It is one of the oldest and most religious sites there. It is also considered the first among the 108 Shiva temples, which were created by Parashuram in Kerala; hence the temple happens to be at least 1000 years old.

The Legend of Temple

Vadakkumnathan Temple

Parashuram is believed to be the sixth avatar of Shri Vishnu, who was born to Rishi Jamadagni and Renuka. It is said that the family had a cow named Surabhi, who was a wish-fulfilling cow. When the King of the place got to know about it, he asked the Rishi to hand over the cow to him, but the Rishi refused. 

Once when Rishi was out to take a bath, the King stole the cow. When Parashuram learned about this robbery, he became furious and initiated a fight with the King. Finally, he killed the King and got his cow back in Ashram.

When his father got to know about the incident, he told him to wash off his sins by making a pilgrimage. Parashuram did the same, but when he returned to his home, his father was killed by the Kshatriya kings as a result of revenge. Enraged, Parashuram picked up his ax and killed many Kshatriya rulers; it is said that he eliminated the Kshatriya clan 21 times.

Then to wash off his sins again, he performed a yagna with the help of some Rishi Munis. After the Yagna, the Rishis asked him for some land for shelter as Dakshina. Parashuram then used a winnowing fan into the sea and carried out a landmass. This landmass is now known as Kerala, which was then known as Surparaka.

He then requested Shiva and Parvati to take shelter in his land and bless it. Lord Shiva with Parvati, Ganesh, and Kartikeya came to the new land. The place that they took is now known as Thrissur, where Shiva manifested himself as the presiding deity around which the temple Vadakkumnathan was formed.

Vadakkumnathan Temple Architecture

In the beginning years, the idol was situated at the base of Moolasthanam. Later, when the temple was built by the rulers, the idol was placed inside it. The temple hence is situated on a hillock called Tekkinadu overlooking the city.

The overall area is 9 acres which are enclosed by a huge wall with four gopurams in all four directions. The devotees enter the temple via the east and west gopuram, and there is no entry facilitated from the south and north gopuram. The south gopuram remains open only during Thrissur Pooram, which is celebrated in April.

The shrine of the presiding deity Shri Vadakkumnathan is built in a circular shape. The Linga is not visible to the eyes since it remains covered with ghee due to many years of regular Abhishekam. An interesting fact about the ghee is that it never melts even in the summers; it remains intact and keeps the Lingam covered. Also, there is a foul smell present even after the ghee is years old.

There are three crescents of gold and three serpent hoods as the embellishment of the Lingam. The shrine of Parvati is also in the same shrine; however, both shrines don’t face each other. The idol is made of wood, and hence it is worshipped only using turmeric.

There is a shrine for Lord Sri Rama as well. It is present inside the courtyard and facing west. There are beautiful mural paintings on the wall that make it look more adorned. There is one more shrine of Shri Shankarnarayan, which is believed to be a combination of both Lord Shiva and Vishnu.

The Mahaganapati Shrine is also there facing east. This is situated near the kitchen of the temple and behind the Shankarnarayan shrine.

Temple Festivals

There are various festivals celebrated in the Vadakkumnathan temple:

Shivaratri

Since the presiding deity is Lord Shiva, the temple celebrates the festivity with a grand gesture and vibrant attitude. Every year it is celebrated in Feb-March, where the overall temple premise seems mesmerizing. Every corner is lit with lights, and the festivity goes on the whole night. Regular Abhishekams of water and ghee take place; however, there is no procession performed for the deity.

Aanayoottu

This is one of the most significant festivals in Kerala, which is related to elephants. The festivity happens in the month of July, and a Mahaganapati Homa is organized. People visit the temple and feed a number of elephants on the day. A Gaja pooja is also performed once every four years as Ganpati is related to elephants.

Thrissur Pooram

Every year the deities of nearby temples are brought to the temple ground. The festivity falls in April; this is an annual festival on which the temples honor their deities by taking them for processions on caparisoned elephants with the drummers along to intensify the festivity.

Shakthan Thampuran

The festival was first started by the King of Cochin, who used to unify all the nearby temples and celebrate as a mass festival. He classified the temples into Eastern and Western Group. 

On the festivity, all temples send the processions to Vadakkumnathan to pay their respect toward the presiding deity. The festival is celebrated for seven days which is started by hoisting the flag at the temples and doing the firework as a sign of commencement. This is initiated prior to the Pooram festival.

Neithikavvu Bhagavathy Devi

Neithikavvu Bhagavathy Devi is a part of a Western group of temples that reaches the Vadakkumnathan Temple on the previous day of the festival. The temple shows respect to Lord Shiva and opens the South Gopuram of Vadakkumnathan. Neithikavvu is then received by the Cochin Dewaswom Board representative, and then a conch is played thrice to announce the commencement of the Pooram.

All the deities enter the temple to pay homage as per the schedule. The festivity when takes an end; a huge firework is depicted, which makes the overall scene spectacular. People to witness such festivity come from far lands and places and become a part of the event.

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