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Pambadi Pambumkav - Pambadi Snake Temple
According to the belief in India, especially in South India and very much so in Kerala worshiping Snake Gods will bring all round prosperity in health, wealth and peace in life. In south and especially in Kerala there are several temples exclusively for worship of snake gods. The main among them are the Mannarassala Nagaraja temple, Pampummekkaat Illam (Mana), Pambadi Pampumkavu, Vettikkottu Naga Temple, Amayeda in Ernakulam and Cherppullassery Padirakkunnath Mana etc. But if anybody in Kerala is asked as to which are the most important and famous temples of snake worship, the answer will be that of Mannarassala, Pampummekkaat and Pambadi. Of these three important ones, Pambadi is a very sacred one for reasons mentioned later.
How the name Pamabdi came into being: As per the legend the place where the Vasuki and the other serpents appeared to Parasurama and danced (paambu aadi – snakes danced; paambu means snake and aadi means danced) on Parasuraman's offer of worship and offerings, is the place called the Pambadi village and the Pambadi temple is at the place at a short distance of about 2 kms from the village towards the East. This temple is not having any idol. There are only anthills supposed to be the abodes of snakes. All the pooja and offerings are done in this place. In the place of the Pambady Pambumkav temple, one Maharishi was doing pooja to Siva. Later when Vasuki suggested to Parasurama to do poojas at the place where Siva is worshiped by the Maharishi, Parasurama requested the Maharishi to do poojas to the nagas along with Siva pooja. The Maharishi readily agreed and started the poojas for both.
Pambadi Pampumkavu (Snake Temple) and ownership: Address – Pambady Pampumkavu Temple, Pambady, Thiruvilwamala, Thrissur District, Kerala, India PIN: 680597. The Contact Nos. of the temple is: 0488 4283324 or 9446234952. Pambadi is a village near Thiruvilwamala in Trichur District. It can be approached from Trichur by bus. There are direct buses from Trichur to Tiruvilwamala. From there go to temple by auto or go to Pambadi by bus about 8 kms. From Ottapalam/Lakkidi there is bus facility for Thiruvilwamala via Pambadi. The temple is 2 kms inside from the main road at Pambady. The village is sometimes also spelt as Pampadi by mistake. Pampadi is a place near Kottayam which has nothing to do with the Pambadi temple. In the beginning worships were done only to Lord Siva and the Nagas. Later Poojas are also offered to Subramanian, Maharishi who first offered the pooja, Ganapathi, Durga and Dharmasastha (Lord Ayyappa) etc.
In this place there was no idol or temple originally. The Maharshi was doing the pooja. After the demise of the Maharshi, the place was uninhibited for some time till one Mr Narayanan Nair of a family known as 'Nadarinha Kuliyil'. He renounced all wealth and comfort to offer his worship here with all the sanctity. After his death his wife 'Ponthanath Kunhi Maalu Amma' took over the temple and is doing the poojas. The temple was known and became famous during the time of Narayana Nair. Now it is a renowned Sarpakavu (snake temple) of Kerala and other neighboring states. There are no correct details as to when the temple structure came up here. It is believed that it is after the demise f the Maharshi.
Special Poojas of the Pambadi temple: Offerings to Snake Gods done on the Ayilyam star day is considered as very auspicious. Hence every month h on this day there will be special pooja. Since Siva is worshiped and his day is Thiruvathira star day, this day of every month is important. Similarly on Pooyam (Pushya) days for Subramanya, Uthram days for Dharmasastha, Sukla Chathurthi days for Ganapathi and first Fridays of every month for Goddess special poojas are done.
Main Offerings of Pambadi Temple: In any Nagaraja Temples (Snake Temples) and any special pooja for Nagas the first pooja to thought of is Ayilyam Pooja. Ayilyam is the main star day of snake gods. So also in the Pambadi Temple the main pooja is Ayilyam Pooja. On the Ayilyam day of every month, this special pooja will be done with other special poojas.
Another important offering is Sarpa Bali (Sacrifice for snakes) and Payasa (sweet porridge) Homam please all the snake gods (naga devatha). This is done to get rid of the bad effects of destroying the snakes place, creating problem for snakes and desiccate the place of snakes etc. In this pooja naga sooktam will be chanted with flower offerings (Pushpam archana – Pushpanjali) and invoke the Naga Devathas to the designated decorated seat. Then the chanting of mantras which are to please nagas are done and offering of naivedia and homa of payasa. This is mostly done on Ayilyam star day for maximum effect.
Vellari offering: Raw rice (white rice) with coconut pieces are mixed and offered with pooja.
Noorum Paalum: This is a mixture of white rice powder, turmeric powder, cow milk, tender coconut water. This is supposed to be a favorite item for snakes. This is offered with pooja.
Sarpa Dosham parihara pooja (Pooja for pardon against the sake gods curse); This will be under the guidance of an astrologer.
Another offering is for people who want to remove the Pampumkavu from their house compound. When people are not in a position to continue the poojas of the Pampumkavu in the compound for various reasons or the whole place has to be demolished, the snake gods of this place is invoked by poojas and taken to the Pambadi temple and installed there.
Snake God Worship: Hindus give lot of importance to snake god worship (Naga Pooja). In addition to the temples exclusively for the worship of Snake gods/goddesses, in all the temples in Kerala there will be a separate sub deity of Nagas in the outer prakaram (Sanctum). All the gods of Hindus have some or other association with snakes. Sri Parameswaran/Lord Siva is having snake on his head, on the neck as his ornaments. Sri Vishnu does his meditation on the snake bed of Ananthaseshan with the Garuda, supposed to be enemy of snakes, in attendance. Sri Durga is having snake in her crown as adornment. Sri Ganesha is having serpent as an ornament on his abdomen like a belt. He is also seen with the snake in place of the sacred thread. Subramanya will be seen mostly with a peacock supposed to be an enemy of snake and snake. The astrological shadow planets Rahu and Kethu are supposed to be 2 parts of a snake. In fact most of the gods can be seen with snake somewhere around or on them. Most of the above mentioned snakes are shown with their hoods fully expanded.
As per the religious texts and the Astrological literatures if there is any problem associated with Rahu or Kethu offerings to Snake gods (Nagaraj) is supposed to give relief. These offerings/poojas in Kerala are being done mainly in one or the other temples mentioned above according to the suggestions of those concerned. In Kerala there are other Temples mentioned above for worship of Snake gods. In addition, some pooja/offerings are also done in the home of the affected families.
Relationship of Kerala and Snake worship: There is a legend about snake worship in Kerala. As per the legend Parasurama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) took birth to punish the Kshtriyas (kings/Warriors) of that time who were autocratic without any care for the people whom they are supposed to protect. They were tyrannical and people were helpless. On their prayers Parasurama was born and killed the Kshtriyas on several times as punishment. After that he felt remorse for the mass killings by him. As per Hindu Philosophy one of the ways to free one from the guilty conscience is to offer Dhanam (donations) of some useful articles like eatable items, clothing, money, silver, gold, cow, land, building etc depending on the capacity of the donor and the appropriate situation of the done and depending on the seriousness of the wrong done. He wanted to donate land for relief to the needy and poor. Since he wanted to give virgin land and he did not have any land with himself, he requested the sea. The sea agreed to free the land to the extent of the distance from Gokarna in Karnataka in North towards south and from the Arabian Sea in the West to the Western Ghats in the east. The southern end of the land was to be the point where Parasuraman's maze falls on his throwing the same. He threw his maze from Gokarna and it fell at the southern tip of Bhaarath at Knyakumari. The sea moved away from Gokarna to the place where the axe fell and the consequent exposed land was referred as Parasuramakshetra. In this area there is a part of Karnataka upto Mangalore district. After that is Kerala to the South of Mangalore District of Karnataka.
Parasurama persuaded people of neighboring places to go and live in the land created by him. The land had so much of snakes and people were terrified. Then Parasurama did penance to please Lord Parameswara (Siva) for solution to the problem. Lord Siva suggested to Parasurama to please to the king of serpents, the Vasuki for the solution. Accordingly Parasurama Went in penance and the Vasuki appeared before him. Parasurama expressed the difficulties of the people of the land donated by him and wanted solution in such a way that the snakes should co-exist with the others including the humans without creating problems. In return the humans in the area will offer worships and offerings to the snakes with utmost reverence. Both the Vasuki and all other snakes were very happy of the suggestion of Parasurama and they started dancing in joy. Vasuki suggested that he and his family will be staying in a place nearby to the spot towards East where there is the presence of Lord Siva where a Maharshi (Saint) will be doing pooja to Siva. Parasurama went to the spot suggested by the Vasuki and requested the Maharshi to do the pooja and offerings to the snakes also with that of Siva.