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Kodungallur Temple is a Devi temple in Thrissur district of Kerala. The main deity of the temple is Bhadrakali, popularly known as Kodungallur Amma. The idol of the presiding deity is unique, as it has eight hands with different attributes. The proper name of the temple is called Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple. The temple was perhaps built by the Chera King as a memorial to Kannaki, the heroine of Silapathikaram written by Tamil poet Elenkovadikal. According to one school of thought amongst the historians of Kerala, the temple originally was a Buddhist shrine. This was later on converted to a Hindu temple. The town of Kodungallur was converted to the administrative capital of the state during the reign of later Chera Kings.
History and Mythology
There are many legends that try to explain the origin of this temple. One such legend says that the temple was built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, for the prosperity of the people in the region. Legend further adds that the purpose of the building of the temple was to install the Shakthi there to check the menace of a demon Daruka. Coincidentally, the very same Bhagavathy, in the form of Shakthi, was responsible for the killing of the demon.
From the historians' points of view, the temple was once a Buddhist monastery. During the Chera period, there were Buddhist and Jain centers for learning in Kodunganallore, Trikkanamathilakam and other nearby areas. A local ruler by the name Palliband Perumal embraced Buddhism and earned the wrath of the local Hindu community. Hence, he had to give away the title of Perumal to calm down the local Hindu population. In connection with this, there was another incident. Elango Vadikal, the younger brother of Cheran Chengottuvan who built the temple, got interested in the principles of Buddhism and embraced that religion later. It was believed that the Tamil poet lived his later years in the Buddhist monastery at Trikkanamathilakam.
Another legend says that the temple was initially the holy abode of Lord Shiva. Later, Sage Parasurama installed the Kurumba Bhagavathy near the idol of Lord Siva to checkmate the growth of demon Daruka. According to this legend, the Goddess herself instructs the priests to perform different rituals to enhance her powers. Apart from this, the six "Shri Chakras" installed by Adhisankaracharya also give eternal powers to the presiding deity.
The temple complex has a total area of 10 acres. The temple premise is surrounded by banyan and peepal trees. Unlike other temples, the Sanctum Sanctorum of this temple is facing towards the north. Inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, there are sapthamatrukas or seven mothers on the western side. Like the presiding deity, the idols of seven mothers also face towards the north. Along with these, the idols of Ganapathy and Veerabhadra are also found in the Sanctum Sanctorum. Of these two, the idol of Ganapathy faces east and that of Veerabhadra faces west. The idol of the presiding deity is made of jackfruit tree, and it is seven feet high.
Towards the left of the temple, there is a walled enclosure. This enclosure houses the Samadhi of Vysoori. The Vysoori is regarded as the medieval shrine deity for the contagious diseases. About fifty meters to the left of the main temple is the sacred pond, where the devotees take bath before entering the main temple. The devotees believe that this pond was created by Goddess herself by striking her sword on the ground.
Temple Rituals and Festivals
In the past, the people used to sacrifice animals to seek the blessing of the Goddess. The animals sacrificed include fowls, goats, etc. Due to the intervention of animal lovers and social reformers, the Government of Kerala brought a legislation to ban the sacrifice of animals. Since then, the devotees either present one-eyed dhotis or gold ornaments to the Goddess as a mark of gratitude.
The main festival of the temple is Bharani festival. This is one of the grandest festivals in Kerala, which lasts for a month. This festival takes place in the Malayalam month of Kumbham and extends up to the Malayalam month of Meenam. This festival commences with a ritual called "Kozhikal Moodal", which involves the sacrifice of cocks and pouring of their blood on a pedestal before the deity. Another important festival celebrated in the temple premises is the "Kavu Theendal". During this festival, the oracles of the temple run around the main temple holding swords in their hands. When the oracles run around the main temple outside, their retinues offer their reverence to the Goddess in the inner quadrangle of the temple.
The Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple is situated in Thrissur district of Kerala. According to the historians of Kerala, it was initially a Buddhist monastery. Later on, it was converted to a Hindu temple. The important festivals of the temple are Kavu Theendal and Bharani festivals. Bharani festival is usually celebrated for a period of one month. During this period, many festivities are conducted to appease the Goddess. It is believed that the devotees get their contagious diseases cured by offering their prayers to the Goddess.