Confluence of cultures
Kaachanamkulam Thirupuraykkal Kannaki Bhagavathi Temple in Palakkad is the meeting point of cultures.
HOME OF DEITIES: Pujaris performing puja at the Kannaki Bhagavathy Temple.
Standing tall amidst majestic banyan trees and facing the Western Ghats, the Kaachanamkulam Thirupuraykkal Kannaki Bhagavathi Temple at Moothanthara typifies the unique blend of Tamil Malayali cultures that is so evident in Palakkad.
The pujas at the temple are performed according to both the Malayali and the Tamil traditions. If the pujas for Kannaki Bhagavathi, the presiding deity, are performed by the Namboodiris of Animangalam Illam, those for Lord Siva and a host of other deities are performed by Sivacharyas from Perur. Every day, the people here wake up to the sound of the edakka and the shankhu coming from the Bhagavathi's `sreekovil' and of the nadaswaram from Siva's. Says the Tamil pujari, popularly known as Manikya Kurukkal, "I do puja according to Sivagama vidhi prakara. I chant mantras; the Namboodiris don't. They follow the tantric vidhi prakara."
The Kannaki cult in the State, exemplified by temples in Kodungallur, Attukal and Mangaladevi assumes a new dimension at the Moothanthara temple. The Moothan community, a class of businessman who, it is said, belonged to Kannaki's caste and hailed from Tanjore district, runs the 450-year-old temple. In Ilankovadigal's epochal work `Chilappatikaram,' a fuming Kannaki sets Madurai ablaze and heads for Kerala.
The Vanika Vaishyars who accompanied Kannaki and settled in Palakkad came to be known as Moothan. Folklore has it that the Palakkad Raja gifted the temple to the Moothans of Palakkad, also known as Guptas and Mannadiyars.
The earliest Kannaki temple in Palakkad was established at Nedupati Mannam. Tipu Sultan reduced the temple to rubble. Even as different parts of the Devi was worshipped in prominent temples such as Kallekulangara Emur Bhagavathi Temple (hand), Vadakkanthara Tirupuraykkal Bhagavathi Temple (eye), Big Bazaar Kannaki Temple (umbrella), Manapullikavu (kindi), Kannukottu Kavu in Pirayiri (peetham), the main idol was carried to Moothanthara.
The temple is also home to deities such as Ganapathi, Bhairava Murthi, Vallabha Ganapathi, Siva, Visalakshi Amman, Dakshinamurthi, Sidhivinayakar, Valli Devayana Kalyana Subramanyar, Surya, Purnapushkala Sameta Hariharaputra Swami, Chandikeswar, Balagopala, Ashtadikpalakar and Lingotbhavar. Except for Kannaki Bhagavathi, pujas for all these deities are performed by Tamil acharyas.
Come the Malayalam month of Meda, the temple dons a festive garb. Starting on Revati and ending on Punartam, the `arat' here offers a kaleidoscopic view of the composite Tamil-Malayali culture.
Stream of devotees
The temple is awash with devotees from far-away places in Tamil Nadu. Temple art forms such as Kavadiyattam, Kannyar Kali, Koothu, Thullal and Kathakali are staged. Some 25,000 people are offered food.
In fact, the festivities continue throughout the year. On Thiruvatira day, Siva and Parvathi are taken out in a procession for Ardra Darshanam. On all Shashti and Krithika days, Lord Murugan is given abhisheka. On Tiruvonam, there's the Niraputhari festival when the `puthari prasadam' is distributed among devotees.
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