Worship of Lord Brahma, Part 46
BY: SUN STAFF
Chottanikkara Bhagawati Temple
Sep 23, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of places of Lord Brahma's worship.
Lord Brahma at Chottanikkara
Today we move to the southern end of Kerala, 20 kms. east of Cochin, to the Chottanikkara Temple. Located near Ernakulam, about 8 km. from Tripunithura, the temple is dedicated to Bhagavathi (Bhagawati), the mother Goddess in her in satvik bhava. There are a number of deities on the main altar who are given regular worship, and one of these is the deity of Lord Brahma.
Bhagawati Devi is worshipped in three different forms at this temple: as Saraswati in the morning, draped in white (praktuthi-purusha bhava); as Bhadrakali at noon, draped in crimson; and as Durga in the evening, dressed in blue. The inclusion of Brahmadeva on the main altar is undoubtedly associated with Devi Saraswati's presence here.
The Divine Mother, also known as Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi), is joined by the other presiding deities on the main altar, including Lord Brahma, and Mahavishnu (in Krishna sila) on her right. The Mahavisnu deity is sculpted in granite.
Vishnu and Bhagavathy together are referred to as Lakshminarayana, Ammenarayana, Devinarayana, and Bhadrenarayana. Amme Narayana refers to the male and female forms of shakti; Devi Narayana refers to the source of knowledge and wisdom; Lakshmi Narayana represent the combined form of all happiness and wealth; and Bhadre Narayana represents protection against the onslaught of material ills.
The prathishta deities are joined on the main altar inside the sanctum sanctorum by Shiva, Ganesh, Subramanya and Sastha, all on the same pedestal. In the nalambalam (the interior area surrounding the sanctum) is Sastha with consorts (Prabha and Satyaki). Outside the nalambalam is Kapaleeswaran, Shiva with Ganapati, and the Nagas. Pavizhamally thara is considered the Sree moolasthana on the east (the place where the temple's energy beings).
The golden Bhagawati deity has four arms, her hands holding the chakra and conch, with two hands in mudra. The original idol of Bhagavathy, which is about four feet high, is made of laterite and is swayambh (self-manifesting). This form is called Rudraksha Sila, being irregular in shape, reddish in color. This Devi form can only be seen at 4 a.m., when the sanctum opens for nirmalyam
Bhagawati Devi, the Divine Mother
In addition to the main temple, which houses the presiding deity altar, the temple complex also includes a Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy temple, and shrines for Sastha, Shiva, Ganapathi, the Nagas and other Upa-Devas.
Sree Mookambika Saraswathy is also believed to be present in this temple in the morning. For that reason, the Mookambika Temple at Kollur opens only after the Saraswati Devi returns there late in the morning, after departing Chottanikkara Temple.
The Pala tree
A visit to Chottanikkara Bhagawati Temple is said to bring one relief from the overburdening anguish and agonies of material life. The Bhadrakaali at Kizhukkavu is believed to exorcise evil spirits from devotees, and many persons suffering from mental illness come here to seek refuge in the divine mother. An ancient Pala tree which stands on the northeastern side of the sanctum is covered with long iron nails, which haunted victims hammer on with their foreheads.
The Pala tree
Chottanikkara Temple is situated in a hilly region, surrounded on all sides by lush green space and farms. On the eastern side of the temple complex is a pond known as the Rakthakulam, where Devi beheaded Raktha Rakshassu (the Agni yakshi).
The temple grounds
Near the pond stands the Kizhukkavu temple. The deity here faces westward, and is believed to have been installed by Vilwamangalam Swamiyaar. After the Athazha pooja (the main pooja in the evening for the presiding deities), the head priest comes to Kizhukkavu to perform the famous valiya guruthy, or 'great sacrifice'. The guruthy is prepared in 12 huge cauldrons (huge vessel) at 8:45 each evening.
There are a great many festivals and special religious observances held at Chottanikkara Temple all year round, and throngs of pilgrims come here to get darshan of the deities.
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