Chottanikkara Rajarajeshwari Temple

P4170372_copie

The Chottanikkara Rajarajeshwari Temple is located 15km northwest of Cochin. The whole temple complex consists of  Melekkavu & Keezhekaavu. The Melekkavu diety Rajarajeshwari is worshipped along with Lord Vishnu. The laterite idol of the Bhagavathi & the granite idol of Mahavishnu are on the same pedestal. They are not fixed to the ground but  rests on sand bed. Everyday the temple opens at 4 am & it's believed that  Mookambika Devi attends this pooja & then goes to her temple at Kollur. The Goddess Rajaraeshwari is worshipped in three forms - Saraswathy in the morning (draped in white), Lakshmi in the noon (draped in crimson) & Durga in the evening (draped in blue).Infront of the shrine are the flagstaff & the bali-pidam. To the south is the "Pavizhamallithara" where the diety has appeared first.
The  annual festival falls in the month of Kumbham ( Feb-Mar) & lasts for 9 days.  Everyday at dawn the priest carry  both the dieties ( Bhagavathi & Sastha ) for a holy dip at the temple pond (Onakutty-Chira). This ceremony is called "Aarattu". This function is performed all the 9 days. The 7th day is the Makham Thozhal (worship on the Makam day) is auspicious for women. After the sacred dip, the 11 caparisoned elephants march towards the temple premises along with Nadaswaram & Panchavadyam. At noon, the sanctom sactorium is closed for rituals & decoration of main diety. At 2 pm, when the door  reopens, millions of devotees are there to see the holy glimpse (darshan) of the Goddess in brilliant coloured clothes & ornaments. They recite the sacred mantra " Amme Narayana, Devi Narayana, Lakshmi Narayana, Bhadre Narayana". Unmarried women offer silk & pendant ( Pattu & Thali) to the Goddess for matrimonial bliss. It's  believed that those who've seen Goddess are blessed with their long standing desires & promises. Display of fireworks marks the end of the annual festival.
For Navarathri several classical performances are held in this temple.
A flight of steps in the north east leads to  Kizhekkavu Bhagavathy Temple. The main diety Bhadrakali has healing power related to mental disorders. When cured the devotees drive nails on a huge Paala tree by knocking with their foreheads. Adjacent to the temple is a pond ( Raktha-Kulam) & a dip in it is believed to remove all the evil spirit from the devotees. Every day at 8 pm there's a ritual called "Valia Guruthi". For the ablution ceremony, twelve huge vessels of red liquid ( A liquid made of lime water & turmeric) are poured over the Kali.

Legends behind these two temples.
A
tribal chief Kannapan, an ardent devotee of Goddess Bhagavathy lived in this area. He was a widower with a cute daughter. Her pet was a cow.
Daily Kanappan sacrifices an animal for the Goddess. One day he didn't get any  to sacrifice. So he demanded her daughter to give her pet cow. His daughter pleaded to sacrifice her instead of her innocent cow. Kannapan was shocked to hear this.  He & the cow stayed the whole night before the bali stone. In the morning he found that the cow was turned to a stone. It's said that the pet cow was Goddess Bhagavathy.The same day Lord Vishnu appeared before him & pardoned all his sins & promissed to stay in the temple along with the Goddess. The location of the present temple was rediscovered by Pulayas(low caste). She accidently struck a stone while reaping grasses. On seeing blood oozing out of the stone she ran towards a Priest of the Yedattu family. He came with the some puffed rice in a coconut shell & offered to the Goddess. Even now the Brahmins of Yedattu house are the priests of this temple.
Once Gupthan Namboothiri was on his way to his friend's(Kosapilli Namboothiri) house. A ghost (Yakshi) followed him but could't do anything b'coz he was carrying a sacred book (Devi Mahatmyam). Kosapilli Namboothiri who practiced occult sciences adviced him to carry an enchanted towel to protect himself. While returning he saw the same Yakshi. He threw the towel behind, ran towards the temple & cried for help. Goddess Bhagavathy came out,cut the Yakshi into pieces & threw in the temple pond. Now a days this pond is called Yakshikkulam/Rakthakulam.

Courtesy to Hindupedia