Sree Siva Temple, Puthucode, Palakkad, Kerala 678687
A Brief Report on Its History and Present Status
Puthucode is a picturesque village situated in idyllic surroundings in the central part of Kerala. It is located almost on the westernmost boundary of Alatur taluk in Palghat district, and is a border village lying between Palghat and Trichur districts. One of the oldest temples dedicäled to Goddess Bhagawathi, known as Puthucode Bhagawathi is situated in this village. The temple is located at the centre of a habitation of great Vedic Scholars, all around which live people of Hindu society serving the temple. In essence, the temple formed the centre of activity for the whole villagers catering to their spiritual, cultural and social needs. Due to several factors, the temple came under the management of Naduvil Madam Devaswoms and little is known of the period earlier to this. It is believed that in the days past, a Sanyasi by name Manjapotta Swamji camped in Puthucode, and the villagers gifted the temple and properties to him, thus establishing that the temple belonged to the villagers.
Most of the inhabitants in the immediate surroundings of the temple are Brahmins, who live in four Agraharams radiating at right angles from the temple. They were mostly Vedic and Sanskrit scholars. Many families were proficient in other fine arts like Carnatic music, and music instruments. This was the situation in the olden days. A few among them went out and acquired modern education becoming teachers, lawyers and judges. Some took up Government jobs. After this, under the onslaught of the changed times, steady migration of old inhabitants to other parts looking for new avenues of life took place. To day very few descendants of the old inhabitants live in the village.
A description about the Temple and the Daily Rituals:
The temple occupies extensive ground. It is difficult to find a temple in Kerala with such large and wide four-squared construction called “Chuttambalam”. It has been built on the principles of Agamasastra. The daily rituals are held according to traditional Kerala customs. Cherumukku Manaikkal Nambudiris hold the right as its head priest. But the daily poojas are done by immigrant Brahmin. The present day poojas are done by Sri Ka3i who is heir to a tradition left behind by his father and grand-father, who like him were also performing the poojas. The temple opens for worship everyday at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 10 a.m. Again it reopens for evening worship at 4.30 p.m. Closing at 9 p.m. The deity is a Prasannatha Moorthy Swaroopini casting spell on worshippers by her radiant smile and charm. It needs thousand eyes to behold the beauty and splendour of the goddess in full decoration in the evenings. Srinivasa lyer’s deft hands who is an adept in sandal paste decoration called “Chandana charthu” contribute a great deal in this transformation (Now his son Kasi).
The temple is open to all belonging to Hindu society. In the mornings the pundits from village recite Devi Mahatmyam and Sundarakandam for the welfare of all. In the evenings recitation of vedas by the learned takes place and particular mention must be made of Varam recitals in the month of November/December which bring to the fore the great erudition, skill, and knowledge of the participants. The younger generation also assembles in evenings for community recital of Shyamaladandakam and Sahasranamam. The Variyam, Nambisan and Marar families carry out the other chores in the temple.
The lands, both agricultural and poromboke and the forests in and around the village belong to th? temple. Those who own Dewaswom lands are bound by covenants to pay annuity to the temple by way of cash, paddy and oil. According to this practice, the temple has an annual income of 7,000 paras (measures) of paddy annually. The temple is administered by the Naduvil Madom Devaswom who have totally eighteen temples under their control. A manager to look after the day to day work of the temple is appointed for each temple. The manager is responsible to collect annuities from those who keep temple lands, pay wages for staff, maintain temple accounts and property and arrange for celebration of temple festivals.
One of the most important festivals of the temple is Navarathri festival which falls in September/October each year. This festival is celebrated by the joint efforts of the villagers and the Devaswom with great gusto. An air of festivity descends on the village for ten days during this time. It is a custom of this temple that, those who come to worship during these ten days are fed free. The deity is therefore called ‘Annapoorneswari.”
A few prominent citizens who took active steps for getting the Agrasala constructed, paving the “Seeveli Panthi” all round the temple with granite and erecting a copper flag mast are Maniyan Pattali, Ambiseshan Rama Pattar, Gopala Warrior, Manjapra Seshamani Iyer and Mannappadam Swaminatha Vadhyar could be mentioned among many others. Another individual who took active interest both in the village and temple affairs is Sri. P.R. Anantha Narayana Vadhyar, who was respected for his organising ability as much as for his knowledge of the rituals, sastras and the Vedas.
The temple Devaswom has encouraged the daily recitation of Devi Mahatmya, Sundarakanda, Sama and Yajur Vedas and Thula Purana for which appropriate provision has been earmarked for payment of Dakshina to the participants.
A special mention must be made here about the Navarathri festival. The festival begins in the first day after the new moon day in the month of Kanni. After the flag hoisting ceremony in the hours following the sun set, which is attended by all the villagers, they are received with traditional honours by the Devaswom Manager in the Agrasala who requests them to CO-operate in the conduct of the Navarathri celebrations. This is followed by the cutting of vegetables by all those present signifying the start of the preparations for the temple feeding of Bhaktas from the following morning.
The next nine days are really memorable. Each of the four villages is assigned particular days on which they will take the responsibility for decorations, lighting of lamps, feeding the Bhaktas, processions and other services both in terms of labour and money. Each villagewise with one another to make their participation more showy and colourful. Thus there is a friendly rivalry between the four villages in the conduct of the festivals.
The distribution of Navarathri festival days is as follows:
* 1 st Vilakku Ottamadom House * 2nd & 7th Vilakku East Village * 3rd, 5th & 8th Vilakku North Village * 4th & 6th Vilakku South Village * 9th Vilakku West Village * 10th day Arattu Devaswom
On the 6th, 7th and 8th Vilakku, the procession of the caparisoned elephants is taken out to the respective villages both in the morning and evening. The festival is conducted in typical Kerala style with Pánchavadyam, Melam, decorated umbrellas and chamarams held aloft over caparisoned elephants followed by fire works.
It is a feast to the eyes and ears, reminiscent of the Trichur Pooram in a small way. The villages are decorated with buntings and arches. In the evening the whole village is turned in fairly land by coloured electric lighting. The temple is aglow with a million oil lamps around the prakaras. Flower decorations beauty and sanctity to the temple, while the sweet scent pervades the atmosphere. The deity and sanctum sanctorum receive special artistic treatment in the hands of Kasi who turns the Niramala and Niravilakku into something which belongs to Devaloka. The goddess Bhagawathy rediates a special charm and glows like a thousand sun, captivating every one with Her benign smile casting a spell on those who come to worship her. The evening Deeparadhana is a special sight to behold and there is no doubt that the entire atmosphere is transformed into a highly electrifying one. A feeling of intense bhakthi and devotion hithe~rto unknown descends on the devotees giving them a blissful feeling who stand entranced beholding the enchanting form of the deity and pouring out superlatives praising Her many qualities. There is no doubt that the all benevolent Devi responds to their devotion by showering her blessings as can be noticed from the satisfaction and peace descending on the faces of the devotees. After the Deeparadhana, recitation of Shyamaladandaka and Sahasrananla by the younger folks follows. Kelikottu, Thayampaka, Padakam and Chakyar Koothu follow this till late in the night to give mass entertainment. Again at midnight caparisoned elephants are taken out in procession through the village, importance being given to Pandi Melam. Lighted torches called ‘Panthams’ are the lighting media which throw off a reddish radiance. With this that day’s Navarathri festival concludes. The next day’s celebrations start all over again under the charge of the village which is next in the preassigned list.
The three important days of the festival, viz., 6th, 7th and 8th vilakku are conducted in a spirit of friendly rivalry between the three villages who spend lot of money in the celebration.
For feeding of devotees on Navarathri days, several families of the village have bequethed land to the Devaswom in the days gone by. For example the feeding on the 6th day has been traditionally done in the name of “Nanupattar Sadya” whose family has endowed land to the Devaswom for this purpose.
The successive managers of the temple and the trustees appointed by the Naduvilamadam DevaswOm? and later by the H.R.E. Board have upheld and encouraged the traditions of the temple. Not only that, they have taken interest to set aside funds for starting new religious activities in the temple, for example when Pakaravur Parameswaran Nambudiri was the manager, orders were passed for assigning 50 measures (para) of paddy annually to Siva temple of the village and a suitable amount was sanctioned for teaching young boys of the village in Sama and Yajur Vedas.
Over the years, many have gifted away to this temple lamps, silver, and gold ornaments. A register is kept enlisting such assets. Justice P.R. Sundara lyer, has gifted gold crown and necklaces. For daily decorations, silver ornaments are used. On special occasions like Navarathri, gold ornaments are specially brought from Bank and the deity is decorated.
The changing times also affected the fortunes of temples all over India but particularly those in Kerala. Puthucode Bhagawathi temple was no exception. After the Government took over Devaswom lands the annuity fixed for the temple was grossly insufficient. Also the income of the temple from the devotees fell because of migration of people from the village. Due to these, the conduct of daily pujas and rituals at the temple were affected and conditions become very precarious to the extent that it had to depend upon the manificenco of the villagers for paddy and oil to conduct daily pujas on a day to day basis.
The difficult times of the temple also affected the fortunes of the villagers. Deprived of the income from lands many villagers became on the verge of starvation and had to emigrate. The younger generation went out taking with them their elders. Thus the village became depleted and the source and sustenance of the temple were affected.
Finding that the allotment of paddy by Devaswom to the temple is not able to meet even one tenth of the minimum required to perform rituals and the oil will not last one hour even on a depleted scale of burning lamps for the poojas the villagers went from house to house and arranged for five measures of rice, quarter kilo oil and twenty five paise for performing daily poojas. Even such individual efforts did not find suitable response from the Devaswom side. As a result of all these developments, SAPCO, Sri Annapoorneswari Pooja Co-ordinators — was established by the villagers in 1982. The immediate aim of SAPCO was resotratjon of the age old traditional daily poojas by collecting funds, which will be outside the Devaswom control. The efforts started by the villagers has gathered momentum and the daily poojas are now being performed without any hitch thanks to the funds collected by SAPCO. Encouraged by the work of SAPCO many villagers came forward to help in understanding renovation and repairs to the temple which were basically required to keep the structure intact was done between 1982—85 and a Kumbhabhishekam was performed in February 1986.
After the Kumbhabhishekam in 1986, the day to day rituals in the temple is being conducted as it was in the olden days with the co-operation and financial support of the Devotees at large.
In the year 1992 SAPCO undertook an extensive effort to new the dilapidated structures of the temple at a cost of Rs. 40.00 lakhs. It was also decided to do a Naveekarana Kalasam and Kumbhabhishekam after the completion of the repairs/renovation.
By Her Grace, and with the active support and participation of Her Devotees, the repairs as well as the Naveekarana Kalasam could be conducted in May 1997.
Puthucode - a quite tranquil village situated in Kerala, India is known for the age old ANNAPORNESWARI TEMPLE and SIVA TEMPLEs and its yearly navaratri festivals celebrated year after year with lots of pomp and show.
Puthucode is located in Palghat district, Kerala, India on the Plaghat - Trichur national high way, 35 KM from Palghat and 5 KM off Vadakkancheri.
This site is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavati and Lord Siva.
This site is still under preperation and intentions are to use this site as a common information ground for all Puthucodians settled all over the world and as a common platform to express their opinions.
Intentions are to develop a large address book of email address and other particulars of all Puthucodians and forward any news letters from SAPCO or other temple related festivals once the site is fully established
This site is being developed by “ Capt Maheswar Puthucode “ residing in Singapore.
Any person interested in submitting any material by way of photographs /images/ text/ or any reading material related to puthucode gramam or SIVA - Bhagawati temples may forward same to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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