The Abode of Excellence (Cherpil Bhagavathy Temple)Narayanan Chittoor Namboodiripad Cherpu Bhagavathy Kshetraghosha Sangham
Other Books by the Same Author:The Abode of WisdomAithihya SampudamAithihya SanchayamNarayana NavakasThe True Blue FlameThe Sweet DevotionRakshassinte PrathikaramParadevatha UpasanaSarvangabhinayam
Published by: Cherpu Bhagavathy Kshetraghosha SanghamCopyright: The AuthorFirst Edition: November 1995(For free circulation only)
The Cherpil Bhagavathy Temple at Padinjattumuri was the greatest of the 108Durgalayas of Ancient Kerala. Here Parasakthi, the Absolute Kinetic Powermanifests Herself as deified Love. She is a proud Mother, proud of Herdevotees’ Excellence. She is determined to make them great. For centuries,Her devotees have been the leaders of the cultural, educational and spiritualfields in Kerala.Narayanan Chittoor Namboodiripad writes on the extraordinary Chaithanya ofthis wonderful temple where miracles are routine events. Prof. Namboodiripadretired as the Head of the Department of Economics of the KKTM Govt.College, Pullut. As an essayist he writes on Tantra, Temple Arts, Architectureand Astrology. His sublime insight makes him the finest writer on esotericsubjects. He is a great poet too. A large number of British, American and Indianmagazines have published his dulcet poems, scholastic articles, thrilling storiesand legends.
The Abode of ExcellenceA long, long line of fifty to sixty elephants with golden accoutrements stand in a row and fantheir ears merrily. Hundreds of big torches swaying in the gentle breeze turn the moonlitpaddy fields of Arattupuzha into a supernatural world. A large number of drums, cymbalspipes and clarions play pulsating music. Fireworks explode and enormous flowers of lightblossom in the sky. Thousands of devotees go round the parade in humblecircumambulation. Lord Rama of Triprayar flanked by Cherpil Bhagavathy on the right andUrakath Ammathiruvady on the left, seated on mountainous tuskers, move forwardmajestically. This is the climax of the two-thousand-year old annual festival of CentralKerala.This unbelievably magnificent show, the Arattupuzha Pooram, was the greatest spectacle onearth. One hundred and eight deities riding large elephants used to come here in colourfulprocessions. The devotees believe that the deities of all the temples in India from Badrinathto Kanyakumari come here and seated on Their celestial thrones, enjoy the show. A pilgrimwho takes part in the festivities enjoys the blessings of all these deities! These days onlytwenty three deities have their holy parades here; the others have started their ownregional festivals elsewhere; like the Thrissur Pooram, Kuttanellur Pooram andManickamangalam Pooram. But the original festival remains the holiest of all.The Divine Mother Durga of the Bhagavathy temple of Cherpu Padinjattumuri has a leadingrole to play. As the Supreme Mother, She leads and directs, while Her Divine Children play.We raise Her flagpole twenty eight nights before the final Pooram and the others follow.Then, eleven nights before that spiritual extravaganza, on Aswathy night, She has Herceremonial outing with elaborate rituals and dazzling parades. Five nights later, Lord Ramaof Triprayar and Ammathiruvady of Urakam come out of Their sanctums for parades andlater still, the others follow suit.The Peruvanam Pooram festival precedes the Arattupuzha Pooram; it is on Pooyam night,three nights before the Pooram. The connoisseurs proclaim that it is superior to the finale atArattupuzha. Only four deities present big parades; the last one which starts just beforedawn, the parade of Cherpil Bhagavathy, is without doubt, the best. We have just seventuskers, but they are the finest in Kerala. So too are the accoutrements. When Bhagavathycomes down from the ancient Peruvanam temple towards the east, the smiling sun appearsbeyond the distant fields in glad welcome. The golden rays glittering on the goldentrappings is a sight for every devotee to cherish. Nothing can rival the throbbing rhythm ofPanchari Melam. Fans from far off places used to come here and marvel at the virtuosity ofBhagavathy’s drummers, but then this particular pattern of rhythm was specially fashionedfor Bhagavathy’s parade. Mazhamangalam, the great scholar-poet choreographed it and
Bhagavathy’s drummers presented it first at Peruvanam. Now, it is the most popular patternin Kerala.The devotees of Bhagavathy are not surprised at the sublime expertise of the drummers;the Divine Mother is always so particular that Her devotees should always be the best. Adoting Mother, She loves to make them great. We have thousands of instances toremember and wonder at; like those of Her famous drummers.Shankunny Marar, Bhagavathy’s drummer was the best exponent of the instrument, Chendaand needless to say, he always led big groups of artists. No festival could earn the approvalof the fans unless Shankunny Marar led the drums; even the Maharaja of Cochin invited himfor the festival in the capital. The wise men nodded their heads and said that Marar wasgood enough to be Bhagavathy’s drummer.The golden era of Shankunny Marar came to an end at the beginning of the TwentiethCentury. The fans were sad that Marar had no heir good enough to carry on his tradition.True, he had a middle aged nephew called Rama Marar but he was eccentric, if not mentallyflawed. The other male members of Marar’s family were all young boys, not yet in theirteens. When Shankunny Marar reached the end of his unmatched artistic endeavour, thetemple authorities had to find a way out. Bhagavathy’s Melam, drum music should be thebest; they were determined about it. Rama Marar could not keep up that excellence sincehe rarely took part in Melams and never as the leader. The authorities were reluctant toinvite someone else since the eldest member of Marar’s family had the hereditary right tolead Bhagavathy’s Melam. Some of the elders approached my grandfather, ChittoorNarayanan Namboodiripad for guidance.“What is there to discuss?” My grandfather asked “Is there no male member in Marar’sfamily?”“Yes, but they are all small boys.” The fans complained. “And, there is Raman, of course. Buthe is useless.”“What does it matter? Raman is the senior Marar and he has the hereditary right. Let himlead.” Grandfather asserted.“How can he? He is not fully sane even. The Melam will flop.”My grandfather was angry. “Don’t you have faith in our Bhagavathy?” He asked. “HerMelam will be the best, I assure you. Let him lead. Mother will ensure his success.”That was exactly how it happened. The fans had not considered an important factor. RamaMarar was a great devotee of Bhagavathy. Unknown and rather unskilled he might be, buthe used to spend hours in prayers. Rama Marar, for the first time in his life, led the Melamat Peruvanam and even the bitterest cynics proclaimed that they had never heard a betterMelam. Overnight, Rama Marar had become a celebrity and the organisers of all important
festivals wanted him to lead their Melams. Rama Marar simply refused to go elsewhere andall those who wanted to hear Panchari at its best had to come to Bhagavathy’s Pooram.Narayana Marar, Rama Marar’s heir was a good artist, but he played Thavil and not Chenda.Worse, he was in Tamil Nadu. He did come back when Rama Marar died and once again thefans marvelled at Bhagavathy’s benevolence; Narayana Marar was as good as his uncle!Better still, he was an allrounder who could play almost any instrument. He was an excellentsinger too. For decades, he remained the supreme master of his art, leading Melams all overKerala.The transition from Narayana Marar to his nephew Appu Marar was smooth since theyounger one was the undisputed second best even while Narayana Marar was at the zenithof his fame. Appu Marar certainly kept up the unrivalled excellence for years. Even jealousmasters had to accept his leadership for a simple reason; he alone could successfully leadthe different rhythm patterns like Chempa, Chempata or Dhruvam. His advancing years andill health created a problem once again. Aniyan Marar, his brother and the senior memberwas undoubtedly an expert – as an Ayurvedic physician! How could one who had not playedthe drum for years, lead Bhagavathy’s Melam? Well, we saw what devotion could do.Aniyan Marar came, prostrated in front of Bhagavathy and started the Melam. For the nextthree hours, he was almost in a trance, his tear-filled eyes on Bhagavathy’s idol. We heardPanchari as it was played by his ancestors. It was divine; nothing less. Appu Marar’s sonKuttan, who now leads Bhagavathy’s Pooram is nothing short of a legend in his own lifetime.The story of Bhaskaran, a clarion player illustrates how Bhagavathy raises Her devotees tothe top. He did not have any hereditary right as in the case of Marar, but he was anemployee of the temple, playing on ordinary days. Once I found him standing at the end ofthe row during Peruvanam Pooram.“Why do you stand here?” I asked. “Move to the middle and lead the blowers.”“How can I? Am I not the junior one here?” He countered.That was true. We had the top artists of Kerala playing and the best, as usual stood in themiddle. Bhaskaran was in his late teens and could not hope to move inside.“But you are Bhagavathy’s regular clarion player and you have to lead.” I insisted.“Those in the middle are great artists. I cannot compete with them.” He was helpless.“What of it?” Your rightful place is that of the leader. As Bhagavathy’s own artist you aresupposed to be the best.”“I’ll cut a sorry figure there.”“No, no. You do your best. If they are good, show that you are better. Prove that you are atrue leader.”
He did! At first the famous artists resented him and tried to outplay Bhaskaran. But the boywas in an inspired mood and within half an hour the fans acclaimed his superiority. And, thewise among them praised Bhagavathy’s benevolence.The next year I found him leading the clarion players in the Thrissur Pooram; by that time hehad earned the reputation of being the best in the field.This story had a tragic sequel. Bhaskaran was no great devotee of Bhagavathy and hisinstant success went to his head. He even renounced his job as Bhagavathy’s regular artist.He died under tragic circumstances a few years later.Kummath Raman Nair, another clarion player, is a devotee and is still at the top. When helearned to play the clarion he offered to serve Bhagavathy during the Mandalam festivities.He did so for a few years without adequate monetary benefits. He did get immediatereward – an international fame! The young man soon represented India in Paris, Moscowand elsewhere. He even choreographed a new Melam. Now he is a teacher under theTravancore Devaswom Board. No wonder Raman Nair does so well; he remains a devotee ofBhagavathy.Bhagavathy has a small band of cymbal players to serve Her and they also have an enviablereputation.Even a half – hearted devotee of Bhagavathy prospers and marches confidently towardssuccess and fame. Of course, the proud Mother lavishes real excellence on the reallydevoted families. We have the awe-inspiring example of Kirangat Mana. For centuries, themembers of that family have worshipped Bhagavathy as their family deity and for centurieshave remained in the forefront of the intellectual field. Kerala used to have threeGurukulams, great centres of education comparable to Nalanda and Taxila; at Kirangat,Koodallur and Kodungalloor. Each had its own branch of super specialisation too. KirangatMana was the seat of Veda and Meemamsa philosophy; fittingly we must add. Traditionallythey directed the Othoottu, the periodic Vedic conference of the Cherpu Bhagavathytemple. Generation after generation they worshipped Bhagavathy and kept up theirpreeminent place. Kirangat Narayanan Namboodiripad, who died a few years back enjoyedan honoured place in the Vidwat Sadas of the scholar-ruler, Parikshit Maharaja of Cochin.HH Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Sringeri also respected his knowledge.Padinjaredath Bhattathiripads have the hereditary rights to act as the Thantri, the chief-priest of the temple. They too worship Bhagavathy as their family deity. For centuries, theyhave remained at the top of their holy profession. Such was their knowledge that they neverhad to consult other Thantris; in fact, other scholars came to them to learn. Even now theyare famous; no one can excel Narayanan Bhattathiripad’s spiritual power and the scholarsknew it when they made him the president of the Thantra Vidya Peetham. AnujanBhattathiripad had even written an authoritative commentary on Thantra Samuchaya, the
supreme textbook of Thantra. Hereditary, their friends say; for, they remember how theirfather Krishnan Bhattathiripad delighted in austerities and rituals.Pazhedath Namboodiris have the right to lead the Veda in Cherpu at the start of the VedicConference. Generation after generation, that house produced Veda scholars ofextraordinary merit. Every one was great, people were sure. The organisers of every Vedicconference wanted them to lead the divine melody. People fondly recall the story of RamanNamboodiri who lived at the turn of the century. By the time he reached his early twenties,he had become the best. The sweetness of his voice, technical mastery and super-humanmemory made him the master. Once, when invited to attend an Othuttu in Malabar he tookthe oath: he will not make a single mistake while he was away. Not a single false note forthe month. He was true to his word; Bhagavathy’s devotees could not be otherwise.We, Chittoor Namboodiripads consider ourselves the humble servants of Bhagavathy. OurDharma, we believe, is to serve her. My ancestors have done exactly that for two thousandyears. Bhagavathy made sure that they never had to humble themselves before others. Thepeople including powerful kings bowed to them. They had the right to be the caretakeradministrators of Calicut. When the Zamorin died his officers brought the royal seal to themand they ruled the land till the next one took over. As the Zamorin’s trusted advisors, theyhad the right to administer such ancient temples like those of Guruvayoor, Panniyoor andPerinchellur. Chittoor Vasudevan Namboodiripad who lived in the sixteenth century couldsee Bhagavathy in all her glory and three great poets have written books on that Godman.My ancestors knew very well that people worship those who worship Bhagavagthy. The everindulgent Mother is proud of Her devotees and She wants them to prosper.Ambalapilly Mana too basks in the blessings of Bhagavathy. They too have, through sheermerit, a reputation of efficiency.A striking fact is that Bhagavathy’s devotees earn their fame. No feet of clay! No hollow,cheap popularity! Bhagavathy gives them the necessary ability and they come up throughhard work. They are all twenty four carat masters.The experience of Achutha Warrier illustrates how. A selfless devotee, he has the right toprepare the flowers for the daily offerings and string the garlands. He was a teacher byprofession. The Government School of Cherpu was the worst, to start with. Now, year afteryear no student fails and this cent percent record is unique among government schools. TheGovernment was only too glad to recognise the dedicated work of Warrier and to give himthe State Award. Achutha Warrier, everyone knows, got it through hardwork.Kaplingad Vasudevan Namboodiri, a devotee, used to help in the preparation of the specialoffering of the sweet dish called Chathussatam. Cook Bhagavathy’s offerings? Then heshould be the best cook! Among the Namboodiris, he was the best for half a century. Whilethe other master chefs have an occasional bad day Kaplingad Namboodiri never had the
mortification of a badly prepared feast. And he cooked for thousands of them. Even whenhe was old and no longer lead feasts he was sincere in his service to Bhagavathy.Bhagavathy seems to love working miracles for Her devotees. so much that the locals take itfor granted. The best example is the efficacy of the sweet, Neipayasam, on Thiruvonamevenings. People offer it to get good spouses for their girls. They are supposed to continuetheir offerings till the marriage but almost always Bhagavathy blesses them within threemonths. Thousands have had this experience so that no one considers it a miracle. Miraclesare routine events at Cherpu!Niramala, thousand light offering, is even more effective. The devotees making it invariablyprosper. They get what they want. There is an exception. No one should ever come to thetemple with base desires prompted by jealousy and vengeance in their heart. To seek Herhelp to hurt another is dangerous. She is deified Maternal Love!The festival season is also the particular period of miracles! We had an unbelievableexperience when we celebrated the 1400th Pooram ( The summer festival is more than 2000years old. At first it was a twenty eight days-long affair. It had to be cut short to nine days.We celebrated the 1400th year of the shortened version in 1982). The committee of thedevotees organising the festival decided to make it a spiritual extravaganza. Mr.C.SankaraMenon was the Secretary. We had superb devotees like C.Sankarankutty, TV Sekharankutty,A. Sasthra Sharman, Sivasankaran and Sasi in the committee. I had the honour of being thePresident of the committee. We wanted the best seven elephants for the PeruvanamPooram. Kirangat Unni Namboodiripad had an elephant called Vijayan which was thebiggest in the state and we wanted it to carry Bhagavathy’s idol. Unfortunately it becamemusth-mad; while in heat, the elephants go berserk and attack the mahouts. Somehow, themahouts had chained it to a tree but no one could go near it. They had to throw his food,the palm leaves, from afar. Specialist doctors said that they might get him ready for paradeswithin two months, provided they performed a surgical operation immediately. We had tobring Vijayan within three days.We knew the danger of trying to use Vijayan in the parade. Yet we decided that we shouldbring him. To cure him, we decided that he should perform penance in the temple for ninedays. A strange way to cure the musth of an elephant- to make it circumambulate thetemple!Sivasankaran, Sasthra Sharman and Sekharankutty volunteered to go to Kunnamkulamwhere Vijayan was shackled and make enquiries. They were three teenagers who had justcompleted their High School education and of course knew nothing about elephants.Naively, they asked the mahouts to remove Vijayan’s heavy chains and walk it toPadinjattumuri.
“What? Release Vijayan?” The mahouts exclaimed. “Don’t you know that it has the musth?It has become a real killer.”“But we want him for Bhagavathy’s festival”“Impossible. It can’t be done.”“At least, you can make a try.”“Foolish boys! You don’t know what will happen if we go near. Death. Go away. No paradefor the next two months.”“Don’t fear. Just unchain him and bring him with us. It will not harm you – Bhagavathy willsee to it.”“Oh! Yeah? We don’t want to commit suicide. Vijayan is in a murderous mood. If you wanthim that much, you go and release him yourselves.”“Alright. We shall. We can do anything for Bhagavathy.” Sivasankaran and friends said inunison. Boldly they walked upto Vijayan.They were intelligent boys and fully realised the danger they faced. As the mahouts said, itwas sure suicide. But they had complete faith in Bhagavathy. Two years back, Sivasankaranhad circumambulated the temple for a whole night. They were Bhagavathy’s devotees forsure.Wonder of wonders, they brought Vijayan to Padinjattumuri. Their care-free courageemboldened the mahouts also.We knew that they would bring Vijayan to Padinjattumuri but we were surprised to seeSivasankaran holding its tusk. The boys taming an unfamiliar tusker and that too a ragingone, was a miracle. They made the elephant circumambulate the temple thrice and gavehim Prasadam. Two nights later, Vijayan proudly carried Bhagavathy’s idol duringPeruvanam Pooram. A grave risk, we all knew. He could have turned violent. Since ourcommittee had taken that reckless decision, we decided to stand in a circle around himduring the parade. As the President, I stood a couple of feet in front of his fearsome tusksfor three hours. The sight of Sivasankaran carelessly holding on to a tusk comforted me.The doctors treating Vijayan examined him the next day. They were flabbergasted to seehim normal, unusually sweet-tempered even. They could not understand how he couldbecome normal within two days; that too without surgery. We knew. We prostrated at theLotus Feet of Bhagavathy.The Press got wind of the miracle and The Indian Express flashed the news throughout India.Others followed. They carried photographs of Vijayan performing penance in the temple for
nine days, as we had decided. Even the cynics among the reporters agreed that they hadnever heard of such miracles.People know how foolish it is to refuse an elephant for Bhagavathy’s parade. UnfortunatelyMr.V................. Namboodiripad risked Bhagavathy’s displeasure. He had just bought anelephant from North India. It was, without doubt, the biggest in Kerala and naturally, wewanted it for our Pooram.Namboodiripad, an obstinate man refused. “I’ll not send him there this year.” He said, “MYelephant will not cross the paddy fields of Kanimangalam till next year.”The road to Cherpu Padinjattumuri from Thrissur had to pass through that paddy field. Hemeant to send the elephant to the Thrissur Pooram but was determined not to send itanywhere near our temple.Well, the elephant never crossed the paddy fields of Kanimangalam. Within one month itwas killed! It went wild during the Thrissur Pooram and had to be shot down. Often, theDivine Mother is in a playful mood. She has a wonderful sense of humour!The Koodalmanickam temple of Irinjalakuda used to send its elephant for Lord Rama’sparade at Arattupuzha without any remuneration. The mahouts could get some money byoffering its services for other parades, but they never brought it to us. We knew the reason;Mr.Menon, the manager of that temple did not like us. Once, we were surprised when themahouts came to our office. My father Sankaran Namboodiripad was organisingBhagavathy’s Pooram that year. He questioned the mahouts sharply. They were frank.Menon had foolishly instructed them not to bring it to us. Any other parade, but not us. Heneed not have made that spiteful remark since it had never happened anyway. (Theelephant was rather ugly so that we had no great desire to use it.) As fate would have it, noparade wanted its services so that both the mahouts and the elephant were hungry.Helpless, they had come to us for succour. My father was delighted and accepted theiroffer. There was an interesting sequel. Mr. Menon insisted that we use that tusker on all thenine days of the festival the next year. Bhagavathy must have playfully decided to ride thatelephant for Her daily outing for nine days when Menon refused to give it for one night.Traditionally, the devotees suffering from stomach ailments come to Cherpu temple formiraculous cure. Even some elephants have benefitted. Mr.D............... Namboodiripad hadfine tusker called Gopalan. When he fell ill with alimentary disorders, no medicine couldcure him. Namboodiripad took a vow that he would send Gopalan for the Aswathyprocession of Bhagavathy which marked the beginning of the summer festival. Naturally,Gopalan got well. Namboodiripad sent it regularly to Cherpu Padinjattumuri for severalyears and when he bought another called Ayyappan, that smaller one became the regularidol bearer. We smiled happily when Ayyappan became one of the tallest in Kerala. Once,
Namboodirpad had sent both his tuskers to the forest and could not send either of them forour festival. Both of them died before the year was out. Stomach ailments, naturally.The Divine Mother simply loves to shower Her benediction on Her children, but whennecessary, She punishes the sinners. A few years back, one of the helpers carrying thetorches in front of Her idol* felt Her wrath. He had the idiotic audacity to disrupt Herprocession. The others warned him but he would not listen to reason.He never carried the torches again. He fell ill and died within a few days. Such instances arerare, though. Mother is Love and likes to bless.The temple of Cherpu Padinjattumuri was the supreme centre of Yajurveda for more than2000 years. Hundreds of Vedic scholars used to take part in the month-long Othuttu, theVedic conference here. These masters would start chanting the Veda at dawn and go on tillten at night, occasionally an hour past midnight even. Eighteen hours of Divine Music! Eventhe stones and the wood work must have become energised by it. How can Mother resistthe melody of Devas? She had to manifest Herself in the beautiful idol in all Her glory.The Othuttu was an unimaginably great spiritual experience. A chance to lead the singing asa guest was the greatest honour, the scholars believed. By evening tens of thousands ofdancing flames would turn the temple into a paradise. We used up, sometimes, about 200kilos of coconut oil on a single night for this.The Chaithanya of a temple increases, the savants say, through Annadaana, feeding thedevotees. We cooked up to 500 kilos of rice for the dinner during the Othuttu. The peoplefrom all around used to come for this gourmets delight, but then, they could get feasts inthe temple almost every day. Alas! The times have changed.The Mandala period, the 41 days from the first of the month of Vrischika(Scorpio) used tobe the time for sublime experiences. Every day we had Vaaram, Veda singing, as also thespecial ritual called Siveli. The first twelve days were very special; we had Iswaraseva. Largeteams of scholars sang Vedas and repeated other Mantras during these dozen days. We fedthe devotees too.Every month we used to have Dasamikottu, more singing of Yajurveda. No wonderBhagavathy is deified Veda.Utsava, the festival too fans the flames of Chaithanya. No temple could rival Bhagavathy’ssummer festival.We were lucky that the Chief Priest, Padinjaredath Bhattathiripad worshipped Bhagavathyas his family deity. They performed the rituals with complete devotion, they still do. • I think, it would be better if I do not reveal his name.
The real secret of the greatness of this temple is the special manifestation that we haveevoked. Goddess Durga who assumes all the powers of all the Gods including the Creator,the Sustainer and the Destroyer appears here as a proud Mother anxious to bless Herchildren.The Bhagavathy temple is rather large and built meticulously according to the authoritativetexts. Certainly, it is an ancient one. But there are a few bigger and more opulent temples.Ancient Kerala paid respectful homage to Bhagavathy but these days we have more populartemples. Yet those earnest devotees who know the Satwick Chaithanya of Bhagavathy aresure that She is the ultimate refuge. Why does such an exceptional Chaithanya shine here?No one knows for sure. Legend has it that Parasurama Himself, consecrated 108 Durgatemples in Kerala and the temple of Cherpu is one of them. Maybe, Parasurama excelledHimself here!Once a few scholars approached Kakkasseri Bhattathiri, the greatest scholar of them all andasked him what one should do when in misery. Bhattathiri advised; Pray at the Lotus Feet ofthe Divine Mother. Devi Mahatmya proclaims that Mother saves all those unhappy soulswho come to Her. The devotees who come to the Bhagavathy Temple of CherpuPadinjattumuri know that it is the absolute truth. The Chaithanya – Beneficent SpiritEvery temple is a refuge for the pious person; every deity is benevolent. Bhagavathy, thepresiding deity of the ancient temple of Cherpu is something more. She is the Mother andlike a true mother, She is determined to make Her devotees prosper and excel. She is thedeified sweetness of Maternal Love. As Saraswathy, She blesses them with knowledge andwisdom just as a mother lovingly teaches her children. As Lakshmy, She gives themprosperity; every mother loves to feed or clothe her beloved. As Parvathy, Bhagavathy givesthem Shakti; a child knows well how comforting it’s mother’s hands are. The devotee canbeg for anything; health, wealth, fame, domestic happiness or knowledge; She grants themall. A mother is everything for her baby, a teacher, a nurse or a provider. Bhagavathy willassume any qualities Her devotees want; except that of an angry destroyer.A special manifestation that the people often invoke here is that of Shanti Durga. Thefamous Thantra text Sharada Thilakam describes Her thus: An ocean of Milk and a goldenisland growing all kinds of fruit-bearing trees and flowers. Mother Durga sits on a jewel-encrusted throne in the middle of this island. She is like a golden glow. She wears a goldendress and jewel studded ornaments. A crescent moon adorns Her head. Her twelve handshold weapons representing the different qualities that Her devotees seek. They are theconch, wheel, sword, shield, bow, arrow, mace, trident, nectar-crock and jewel pot. Twohands show the sign of refuge and benediction.
Kerala has thousands of great temples, some of them very famous. Yet the smiling, tenderChaithanya of the temple of Padinjattumuri is unique. Bhagavathy is a proud Mother, proudof Her temple, proud of Her children’s devotion and proud of their Excellence. They do nothave to invoke Her blessings through unbearable austerities and expensive rituals. A tinybaby does not and need not try to please its mother to make the milk of love flow. Mother’sLove knows and caresses the devotees. Just visit the temple. Mother wants to bless! Other TemplesThe Kadaampuzha Vishnu Temple situated on the northern side of the Bhagavathy temple isancient, at least 2000 years old. The presiding deity here is Vishnu. It used to be a veryprosperous temple and the Sustaining Lord delighted in making His devotees rich. Thepassage of time destroyed the beautiful outbuildings, so that the sanctum alone remainsnow, yet the Lord is as benevolent as ever. The temple overlooks vast expanses of paddyfields and the scenery is breathtaking. An artist or architect might shun this small temple buta true devotee is sure to find a visit here very rewarding indeed.The Zamorins of Calicut used to be the devotees of Cherpil Bhagavathy. One of them builtthe Thaliyilappan temple adjoining the Bhagavathy temple to the south. Here the presidingdeity is Lord Vishnu, the deity of Zamorin’s own Thali temple at Calicut. This temple is alsosmall but has wonderful Chaithanya. We used to have Thiruvonam Vaaram, Veda singingand feast, every month here. Childless couples pray here to beget heirs and in the recenttimes one of them had so many that he stopped going to the temple! Here Lord Vishnumanifests Himself in imperial majesty so that the devotees themselves enjoy royalsplendour. The LocationThe ancient Cherpil Bhagavathy temple of Padinjattumuri is situated about thirteenkilometres south-west of Thrissur aong the Thrissur-Triprayar road. The outstation pilgrimshave to alight at the Thrissur railway station. We have three routes to Triprayar fromThrissur and the pilgrims have to board the Thrissur-Cherpu-Triprayar bus. They have to getdown at Padinjattumuri. The temple is off the main road so that they have to walk a couplehundred metres to reach there.Thrissur-Cherpu-Triprayar bus.Get down at Padinjattumuri. Important Offerings (Sevas)The most important offering here is Chathussatham, made of coconut, jaggery, rice KadaliBanana fruits and Ghee. It is rather expensive.
The temple uses coconut oil for the lamps which is unusual. The devotees offer Niramala;lighting thousands of wicks all round the temple. The poorer devotees offer small quantitiesof coconut oil.Neippayasam, is another sweet dish which Bhagavathy likes particularly. Mala, garland offlowers, is another important Seva here.Bhagavathy really loves Veda. The devotees can offer Murajapam where a scholar recitesVeda.A special Seva is to offer Neippayasam on three successive Thiruvonams. This is to begetbridegrooms.Bhoomi Pooja helps take care of the devotees problems regarding their housing needs andreal estate.Thrikala Pooja: The devotees offer the three Poojas of a day. Or they can offerUdayasthamana Pooja, 18 Poojas in a day. Bhagavathy fulfils all their wishes.An extremely beneficent Seva is the Navapradakshina, going round the temple nine times incircumambulation on Fridays. Important DaysAswathy in the Malayalam month of Meenam marks the beginning of the summer festival.We offer Chathussatham in the evening and take Bhagavathy’s idol in a colourful processionaround the temple. To offer money as Aswathyppanam is excellent to beget children.Makeeram marks the formal start of the festival parades. Bhagavathy goes out of thetemple for Arattu. She has processions on all days upto Atham.Pooyam: The superb festival and procession in PeruvanamPooram: The climax of the festival at Arattupuzha.Uthram: The holiest event in the temple. The temple employee called Brahmani Amma singsin praise of Bhagavathy. This is the best time to pray at Her feet.Atham: An elephant pulls down the flagstaff marking the end of the summer festival.Anizham in Mithuna is Bhagavathy’s reconsecration day, the birthday!The devotees bring their cows to the temple on the first day of Chingam and take themround in Pradakshina.The Navarathry festival, a very colourful one is very holy, the devotees flock here during thatperiod.
The Thiruvonam Pattu in the month of Thulam also is of great significance. The devoteespray here during the function for prosperous marriage.The Mandala, the 41 days beginning from the first day of Vrischika used to be the period ofVeda chanting and rituals. Changing times have stopped them but the period remainsauspicious. The End