Irinjalakkuda Koodalmanikya Swami Temple
Lord Koodalmanikya Swami (Sangameswara)
Koodalmanikyam Temple is situated at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur District. Irinjalakuda is 18 Km west of Chalakudy in NH 47 and 9 Km East of Moonnupeedika in NH 17. It is 23 Km south of Thrissur and 16 Km north of Kodungallur. This is one of the most well known temples in Kerala built before the 15th century. It has uniqueness as the deity here is Lord Bharatha or Lord Sangameswara. As a temple with Lord Bhartha as deity is a rarity, there are arguments that once this temple belonged to the Jains (Bharatheswara saint of Jains) and with the descent of Jainism this temple was taken over by Hindus.
Irinjalakkuda in former days is believed to have the confluence of two rivers, the place name Iruchalkkidai suggests such a conjecture. The Lord at the confluence is thus known as Sangameswara. Though the two rivers (Kurumali river and Chalakudy river) have changed course and Irinjalakuda is no longer on any river bank, Arattu is held alternatively in these two rivers suggesting a previous connection with these rivers.
The lord at Koodalmanikyam is Chathurbahu Vishnu with Conch, Chakra, Gada and Japamaala. The general belief, however, is that the Lord is Bharatha the brother of Sree Rama. A distinctive feature of Koodalmanikyam temple is that there is only one single Prathista. Even Vigneswara, usually found in all temples dose not find place here. Usually when Thulasi leaves are offered to the diety, its seeds invariably sprouts in the premises. How this has not at any time happened in this temple is a mystery. One explanation is that Thulasi plant being sacred; it is worshipped wherever it is found. Probably it is to forbid even such an object of secondary worship in the temple precincts that Thulasi is not allowed to grow by some unforeseen power.
Koodalmanikya Swami is often called Sangameswara. There is a story behind this name. Once a Brahmin in Taliparambu decided to collect the chaithanya of idols of important temples in Kerala for being transferred to the idol of Lord Mahadeva in Taliparambu temple. This he did by entering the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temples he visited and transferring the Chaithanya on to the conch in his possession. When he did the same in Irinjalakuda he accidentally fell down and the conch was broken instantly transferring the divinity of all idols he had acquired on to the idol at Irinjlakuda. Thus the idol in which merged the divine Chaithanya of several idols came to be known as Sangameswara. The Namboodiri Brahmins associated with the temple still make all their Sevaas in the name of Shiva, Vishnu and Devi at Sangamesa Sannidhi itself.
There are beautiful mythologies regarding the origin of the name 'Koodal Manikyam'. Once the idol of this temple radiated magnificent light that excelled manikyam (a mythological precious stone believed to be kept and protected by divine serpents). A manikyam kept in the Kayamkulam palace was brought to this temple to compare with the idol and to see which emits more light, on promise to return after comparison. When the Manikyam was brought near the idol it got merged with the idol. koodal manikyam means merger of manikyam and thus the name Koodalmanikyam. Since the temple authorities were unable to return the manikyam to Kayamkulam king, the whole temple was handed over to him as a compensation. Due to the administrative difficulty the king of Kayamkulam handed over the right of the temple administration to one Thatchudaya Kaimal and it was his family which handled the temple till 1971. Koodalmanickyam is the Malayalam translation of the Sanskrit word Sangameswara. Similar brightness is reported to have appeared on the idol once again, much later in 1907.
The custom in most of the Temples in Kerala is to have five Poojas and three Sivelis a day. But in Koodalmanikyam there are only three Poojas and no Siveli. There is no Usha Puja and Pantheeradi Puja at this shrine. The diety is taken out for ceremonial procession only during the Annual Festival. There is no Deeparadhana. Sticks and camphor are not used for the pooja. The floral offerings to the diety consist of Lotus, Tulasi(ocimum sanctum) and Chethi(ixora). But they are not grown in the temple compound. No other flower is taken for Pooja or for making garlands. Thamaramala(lotus garland) is an important offering to the diety. A full garland will be around twelve feet long and will have not less than 101 lotus flowers. Full flowers not their petals, are used in this garland. There is a strong and substantiated belief that if you offer a lotus garland before starting any new project or before the commencement of any important function like marriage, Koodalmanickyam will make the effort a full success. During Monsoon Devotees offer Thamaramala as a temporary injunction on rain till the proposed function is over. Even other temples offer Thamaramala to Koodalmanikyam before start of festivals, Kalasams at the respective temples.
The deity of Koodalmanikyam is considered as the incarnation of Dhanvanthari moorthi - the God of Ayurveda. Hence many people approach this temple expecting cure of their ailments. There are several stories about His curing sometimes even incurable diseases of faithful devotees. Brinjal or Vazhuthinanga nivedyam is aspecial offering here to cure stomach diseases. The Mukkudy nivedyam in this temple is also has great curing powers.
The temple is surrounded by four vast ponds. The pond inside the compound is believed to be sanctified by Kulipini Maharshi who had held a great yaga here. The pond is known as Kulipini Theertham. This Kulipini Theertham is considered very sacred and hence devotees must do the pradakshina of this pond while they do the temple pradakshina.The presence of Ganga is believed to continue in the Kulipini Theertham. This pond is unique because no aquatic creatures(like frogs and snakes) other than fish are not available. Fish feeding or Meenoottu is considered to be of special merit. Water for preparation of Nivedyam is taken form this tank only. Archakas after bath at the outside pond have to take a dip in Kulipini Theertham before entering Sanctum Sanctorum. The pond outside the compound located at the eastern side is called Kuttan Kulam. The pond outside the compound located at the western side is called Padinjare Kulam and the pond outside the compound located at the southern side is called Thekke Kulam.
The Ten day annual festival in this temple is held in Medam(April/May) with Seventeen caparisoned temple elephants. It starts the day after the famous Thrissur Pooram and goes on for 10 days. The first day of utsavam (festival) falls under the star Uthram, and the ceremonial flag is hoisted which marks the beginning of the festival. On all ten days, a sheeveli (procession of caparisoned elephants) is held twice, one in the forenoon and one at night. A unique speciality of this temple utsavam is the fact that two baby elephants are made to stand on either side of the elephant carrying the thidambu (the deity). Seventeen elephants are engaged for the ceremonial rounds, to the accomplishment of Panchari Melam. The last Two days of festival, Panchavadyam will be accomplished. The head gears (Netti pattam in Malayalam language) of seven elephants are made of pure gold and rest of pure silver is another uniqueness of this temple. Brahmakalasam strictly following the Vedic and Tantric rituals are offered to the diety on 11 days in connection with the Festival. This is the unique feature of this temple.
Thripputhari on the Thiruvonam day in the month of Thulam (October-November) is another important occasion in the Temple. It is a day of feasting when the newly harvested rice is first cooked and offered to diety and then is partaken of by the devotees. The day after the feast, there is a special offering called Mukkudi, which is considered to be a divine medicine for all ailments. Mukkudi is an Ayurvedic mixture, the formula of which being prescribed by Kuttancherry Mooss, one of the Ashtavaidyas.
The architecture used for the construction of this temple is a perfect example of Kerala Vasthuvidya. The eastern gopuram, anakkottil, koothambalam, sreekovil and namaskaramandapam are embedded with beautiful sculptures. The copper covered Sreekovil and namaskaramandapm with golden thazhikakkudams and the golden flag staff indicates the glory of this temple. There is no balikkalppura in this temple.
Several poets praised the glory of Sangameswara with their poems. Unnai Warrior's Sanskrit poem – Sree Rama Pancha Sathi is an abridged version of Ramayana in fifty dasakas dedicated to Lord Sangameswara. The Temple had also been an important centre of nourishment of the Temple Arts like Kathakali, Koothu, Koodiyattom and Thullal. Koothambalam stage had the rare fortune to witness historic stage shows by the masteros of Ammannoor Chakyar family.
In 1971, the Government of Kerala, through a special order, took over the administration of the Temple. A Committee appointed from time to time by the Government of Kerala now manages the Temple. The Chairman of the Committee is the District Collector, Thrissur. The Chief Executive of the Devaswom is the Administrator not below the rank of a Deputy Collector deputed by the Government as the Secretary of the Committee.
For more details, images and online booking of poojas visit the official website of Koodalmanikyam temple. http://www.koodalmanikyam.com
To view the satellite image of Koodalmanikyam temple go to Wikimapia.org