Kerala's Women Only Temple
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Jul 9, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA (TIMES OF INDIA) All women's temple open for 3,000 years.
Here, in a devout village, some 9 km from the Tiruvalla town of southern Kerala, women are worshipped. The temple is dedicated to the Deity of Bhagavati, and follows a unique annual ritual called "Naari Puja."
On the first Friday of Dhanu (December), the male priests wash the feet of female devotees who have fasted for 10 days. This system takes root in the belief that female devotees visiting on this particular day are the incarnation of Chakkulathu Amma (Goddess). They are also showered with flowers and sprinkled with perfume, after which the aarti is conducted.
The temple itself is over 3,000 years old and the tradition of worshipping women has been passed along over the ages. Interestingly, every Friday female devotees also bring their relatives who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling. The addicts, who are mostly male, are asked to touch the Devi's sword and pledge to renounce their habit. Locals claim many success stories in which even the hard-core addicts have ended up on the wagon.
"My younger brother was an alcoholic for years. I brought him here three years ago and made him swear by the Devi. He has renounced his drinking habit now," says a woman.
Of the 300,000 or so devotees coming here annually for darshan, 75% are estimated to be women. They are revered to the extent that during Pongala, a major festival that last 12 days and is held every December, the temple becomes the exclusive domain of women. Males do not participate in this tradition.