Nagaraja is a Sanskrit word and its meaning is ‘King of Snakes’.Adishesha or Anantha and Vasuki are known as Nagarajas.Lord Anantha is the thousand-headed immortal and infinite snake upon whom rests Lord Vishnu in the primordial ocean of milk (Kshirasagara). The Lord of Serpents, Sheshanaga was incarnated to the earth in the form of Lakshmana during Treta Yuga and during the Dwapara Yuga, he incarnated as Balarama. He is said to be an eternal companion of Vishnu in all incarnations.Lord Vasuki is the necklace of Lord Shiva and he represents the dormant energy, called Kundalini, the serpent power.
Anantha,Vasuki,Takshaka,Padma,Mahapadma, Gulika,Shamghapala and Karkkodaka are the Ashtanagas(eight great snakes) described in Hindu Puranas. Kashyapa and Kadru are considered as the parents of all snakes.
Mythology says that Kerala was created from the Arabian Sea and given to the Brahmins (Namboothiris) as a "donation" by Parasurama to save himself from the sins of killing numerous kshathriya kings. The land was full of forests and poisonous snakes were found in plenty. So the Brahmins refused to stay there. Parasurama requested Lord Shiva to provide a solution. Shiva told Parasurama to start worshipping Anantha the king of snakes. Parasurama did so and Anantha advised him to start snake worship in Kerala and provide some forest especially for snakes in the form of Sarppakkavu (Snake forests). Parasurama later installed the idols of Anantha and Vasuki at Vettikkottu (near Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district) and Mannarassala(near Harippadu in Alappuzha district) and started worshipping them. The Brahmins also worshipped Anantha and Vasuki and the pleased snake gods made Kerala suitable for living.
Brahmins made several Sarppakkavu in Kerala and they were there in all the agricultural plots throughout Kerala. All temples in Kerala will have Sarppa Prathishtas and some temples will have large Sarppakkavu.There are several families in Kerala having a Sarppakkavu in their own land.Once in six months or once in a year there used to be puja (offerings) to the snakes in these Sarpa Kavu.Even now, there are some Sarppakkavu in Kerala were people are worshiping snakes. To these "preserved forests" none are allowed to enter even for collecting firewood or anything else. These forests are filled with trees and plants, which are herbs for the treatment of snakebites.
In Kerala,snake gods are worshipped in different forms like Nagaraja, Naga Yakshi, Naga Chamundi and Sarppa Yakshi.Naga Yakshi and Sarppa Yakshi are the wives of Lord Nagaraja and Naga Chamundi is his sister. Sarppabali, Noorum Palum and Manjal (turmeric powder) abhishekam are the main offerings to these deities. Vettikkottu, Mannarassala, Panayannarkavu (near Parumala), Sarngakkavu (near Venmani), Valliikkavu (near Chengannoor) and Pambummekkattu (near Mala) are the famous Sarppakkavus in Kerala.
The main festivals associated with Nagaraja are the Aayilyam day in the months of Kanni (September-October) and Thulam (October-November) and Nagapanchami in Karkkidakam (July-August). Aayilyam in Kanni is famous as Vettikkoottu Aayilyam and Aayilyam in Thulam is famous as Mannarassala Aayilyam.
There are several Sarppakkavus in Kottayam.Most of them are within the premises of a temple and the Nagaraja and Naga yakshi are the sub deities of that temple. The Sarppakkavu in Kiliroor Kunninmel Bhagavathy Temple near Kottayam belongs to this category.This type of Sarppakkavus are not included here and only Sarppakkavus that exists independently are described in this page.
Nagaraja Temples in Kerala
Mannarassala Nagaraja Temple
Vettikkottu Nagaraja Temple
Nagercoil Nagaraja Temple
Pambady Nagaraja Temple
Nagaraja Temples in Kottayam District
Kumaranalloor Nagaraja Temple
Kumaranalloor Nagaraja temple is located near to the Kumaranalloor Devi temple. Nagaraja and Nagayakshi are the main deities. Aayilyam is the important festival.
Madanmarukavu Nagaraja Temple Alanadu
Madanmarukavu Nagaraja Temple is owned and managed by Kuruppakkattu Illom.This temple will be opened only on the twelth day of Vrischikam(probably in the last week of November).
Perunilam Sreepuram Nagaraja Temple Poonjar
This temple is located at a distance of 450 meters from Poonjar Koyikkal Dharmashastha Temple in Panachippara.Sarppabali and Ashta naga puja are performed on Prathishta Dinam.
Puthettu Sarppakkavu Kottayam
Puthettu Sarppakkavu is located hardly 500 meters away from the KSRTC Bus Station, at Chandakadavu, Kottayam.
This ancient kavu was renovated in 2002 and the installation ceremony was performed on 11th of November 2002 by Tanthri Udayamperoor Aameda Mana Nampoothiri. The deities worshiped at the Kavu are Sri Nagaraja and Nagayakshi Amma. The Kavu now stands in its full might, and sanctity, having regained its past glory, giving blessings to all those who come in search of peace, mercy and prosperity. The administration of the Kavu is done by Puthettu Sarppakkavu Samrakshana Samithy, constituting the members of Puthettu family. Aayilyam in Tulam (October - November) is the important festival here.
For more details visit http://puthettusarppakkavu.tripod.com/index.html
Nagummelil Nagaraja Temple Idavattam
Nagummelil Nagaraja temple is located at Idavattam near Thalayolapparambu. Aayilyam is the important festival. Pathamudayam(April 24) is celebrated with kalamezhuthum pattum. Bhasmakkalam, podikkalam, koottakkalam, arasukalam, vechunedyam, desa thalappoli and kalam karikkal are also associated with this festival. The festival ends with Guruthy.
Nagampoozhy Mana is located in between Vaikom Mahadeva Temple and Udayanapuram Subrahmanya Swami Temple.
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