Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple: Abusing the Goddess

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Kodungallur

South India is famous for its diverse culture and incredible history. Some of the most mesmerizing temples of India finds home in its southern parts of the country. The great grandeur and striking features to its Dravidian style concept of the state’s architecture can leave one in complete awe. While most of them are popular for its stunning beauty there lay others who are particularly famous for it’s varied weirdly traditions. One of it is Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple of Kerala which is popularly known for abusing the Goddess during the annual festival of the temple. Weird as it may sound here are some of the most astonishing facts about this unique temple of Kerala.

Mysteries of Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple

The Kurumba Bhagavathy temple is a Hindu pilgrimage site at Kodungallur, Thrissur district of Kerala. The temple possess the idol of Goddess Bhadrakali who is referred to as the most powerful form of Goddess Shakti, and is sculptured with eight hands. In her one hand, she holds the skull of a demon king Daruka, in one a bell, another a sword, one has an anklet, and rest of her hands involves other accessories. The temple also has other idols like Ganapati and Veerabhadra, though the main idol is Goddess Bhadrakali only. The statue of idol stands six feet talk perfectly carved out of a jackfruit tree. This temple is also known as the abode of Kannaki who is believed to be the incarnation of Kali and thus the temple is made in her remembrance. Lord Shiva who is believed to be the Kshetra Nathan of Kurumba Bhagavathy temple makes this holy place among one of the 108 important Shiva temples in India.

Well, it is uncertain when the temple was exactly build, some people believe that before the temple construction, this place was a Buddhist Gompa. Whereas other believes that the shrine of Lord Shiva inside the temple is older than the shrine of Goddess Bhadrakali, so it’s really not evident since when the temple originated. Legend says that the fame Hindu sage Parasurama who was the eight incarnation of lord Vishnu was challenged by the demon king Daruka. In order to save his people, the sage prayed to Lord Shiva, who answered the call and advised him to build a Temple of Goddess Bhadrakali as the ‘Shakti’. The sage Parasurama followed the command and constructed a temple in order to prosper his people. The goddess of power Bhadrakali fiercely killed the demon Daruka and saved Parasurama and his dynasty. Since then, the goddess is worshipped at the Kurumba Bhagavathy temple.   

Kodungallur

Another popular legend revolves around the Kannaki who was the heroine of Ilango Adigal’s Tamil story Silappathikaram. Kannaki was married to Kovalan who was the son of a rich trader. But her marriage took a drastic turn when her husband abandoned her and went on living with the dancing women Madhavi. Madhavi on the other hand used Kovalan until he was out of all his assets and later threw him out. The saddened Kovalan then returned back to Kannaki, who sold her anklet in order to start a new life with her husband. But unfortunately, during that time a similar anklet of the queen of Kodungallur was stolen by a goldsmith. Upon the king’s order, the men start searching for the thief, the sparkling resembles of Kannaki’s anklet and the queen anklet led Kovalan suspected for the crime. The king ordered him to be beheaded. Devastated Kannnaki rush to the palace to prove her husband’s innocent but unfortunately gets late. She shows the king her another pair of the same anklet and breaks it in front of him later torching the entire kingdom into flames. Shattered Kannaki, who was also a devotee of Bhadrakali pays to her at Kodungallur and at that moment she merged with the idol. The Chera King Chenguttavan who was touched with her story later built a temple at his capital for Kannaki.   

The Bharani festival at Kodungallur

The Bharani festival is held at the month of ‘Meenam’ which means the months of March or April. This festival is widely recognized because it is one of the few temples of India that discards caste discrimination. During the Bharani festival a large number of lower caste join in the celebrations. A large bunch of human oracles known as the Valichapads from both the genders participate during this festival. The Valichapads are normally males in all the temples but Kodungallur is famous because most of the Valichapads here are females. The festival usually open with the ritual “Kozhikkallu moodal” in the month of the Meenam. This ritual involves a sacrifice of a cock over the red silk saree placed around the two stones surrounding the idols where devotees go round it. This ritual means the beginning of the fight between Goddess Kali and the Demon Daruka. Both the Goddess and devotees are meant to be stained with blood thus the ritual of Kozhikkallu moodal is extremely important.

On the first day of Meenam known as Ashwathi, is said to be the first day of the Goddess menstrual cycle which is known as Kavu Theendal. All the preparations of this particular event is overseen by the king of Kodungallur upon whose signal, the celebrations begin. The offerings by devotees of the Goddess include kumkum, turmeric powder, pepper and the cocks. Whereas the premises of the Kondungallur temple is full of decorated oracles who are covered with vermillion, sparkling clothes, heavy jewelries and who dance in complete ecstasy. The devotees who witness the event are also inspired to chase after these oracles especially the females among them as they run around the temple singing and dancing. These people sing along with cries of ‘nada- nada’ which contains an abusive form of language that is past at the Goddess. And weirdly enough, according to the devotees this abusive language is actually an appreciation of the Goddess. Not only this, one astonishing fact about ‘Kavu Theendal’ is that the highest abusive song wins a prize by the Kodungallur king. This is exactly what makes this festival peculiar enough to blow your mind! After the Bhirani Festival, the Kondungallur Bhagavathy Temple is closed for a week and all the women in the house participate the cleaning process which is the purification process of the temple. The other major festival at Kondungallur is Thalappoli which is celebrated in the month of Makaram i.e January.

The Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple of Kerala is indeed breaking stereotypes of inequality perfecting corresponding with the most weirdest Traditions!      

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