Thrikkakara Vamana Moorthy Temple
Thrikkakara Temple is one of the few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is situated in Thrikkakara, 2 kilometers east of Idapally near Cochi. The name Thrikkakkara means the holy place where Lord placed His foot. Thiru-kal-kari later became Thrikkakara
The legend is closely linked with the story of Mahabali and Lord Vishnu's Vamana or Trivikrama incarnation. Mahabali was an efficient and popular Asura king. His kingdom stretched the earth, the patala (the underground), and was threatening the skies. The gods (suras) grew worried of Mahabali's rule and popularity. Vishnu, in his avatar as Vamana, asked Mahabali for a piece of land only three paces wide. Bali, ever the generous king, granted this wish, whereupon Vamana grew to an immense size and covered the heavens with one step and the earth with another. There was no space left for Vamana to measure his third pace. "Where is my third foot of space?" asked Vamana. Tricked by this deceit, but as one who would never go back on his promises. Mahabali offered his own head for Vamana to place his third step. These events were happened at this place. As he was pushed down into Suthala, King Bali made a last request. He requested that he be allowed to visit Kerala once in a year to ensure that his people were still happy, well fed and content. Lord Vishnu was pleased to grant Mahabali his wish. Mahabali comes to visit his people and his land during Onam. This is the legend behind the Onam festival. Another legend associated with this temple is that Kapila maharshi did penance here and Vishnu pleased with the rishi’s penance appeared before the rishi. At the behest of the rishi, Vishnu decided to stay in this place.
In pasurams of Nammalvar Thrikkakara is refered as Thirukkaatkarai, Lord Vamana as Sree Kaatkarai Appa Perumal and Thayar (Mahalakahmi) as Perunselva Naayaki or Vaathsalya valli.
The traditional festival of Kerala - Onam historically too related with this temple. The 10 day long annual festival in this temple is held in the month of Chingam (Augest - September). The utsavam begins with kodiyettu on Atham day and ends with arattu on Thiruvonam day. Thiruvonam is the birth day of Lord Vamanamoorthy. Those who could not attend this utsavam celebrated it in their own home by making beatuiful Pookkalams and by offering special nivedyams to Thrikkakkarayappan. This was strictly follwed in every home because it was an order given by the then ruling Cheraman Perumal, the king of Kerala. These celebrations and special offerings to Lord Vamana is now commonly known as Onam. The famous Athachamayam at Tripunithura was a triumphant march of the Maharaja of Kochi, with or without military intent from Tripunithura, the then capital of the Cochin state, to the Vamana Temple at Thrikkakara to attend the kodiyettu ceremony. It is merely a celebration to herald Onam, the festival of peace and equity, remembering the days when everything was in abundance. The Onasadya or the Onam feast will be held on Thiruvonam day in a grand manner in the temple with a large number of people cutting across religious barriers participating in it.
In this temple there are two seperate sreekovils for Lord Vamana and Lord Shiva. Five poojas - Ushapooja, Ethruthapooja, Pantheeradypooja, Uchapooja and Athazhapooja - and three Sheevelis- Ethrutha Sheeveli, Ucha Sheeveli and Athazha Sheeveli are conducted daily. The sub-deities of Vamana temple are Sree Bhagavathi, Sastha, Gopalakrishna, Nagam, Rakshass and Yakshi. The Shivalinga in this temple is believed to be worshiped by Mahabali himself and is situated on the southern side of Vamana shrine. Devotees must visit the Shiva shrine before visiting Vamana shrine. The Shiva temple or Thekkumkara Thevar temple has shrines of Parvathi, Durga, Bhagavathi, Subramanian and Ganapathy. It is interesting to note in this context that though Thrikkakkara Appan or Vamana is worshipped during Onam celebrations, Mathevar or Mahadevar is also worshipped with equal fervour and the reason remains unexplained. The temple pond in the northern side is called Kapila Theertham and is considered holy. Only the temple priests are allowed to enter into this pond compound. The seat of King Mahabali is located infront of the Mahadeva sreekovil.
Once a farmer prayed to Thirkkakkarayappa that he would present with a bunch of golden bananas if his plantation yielded fruits. Thirkkakkarayappa blessed the land and there was a heavy yield of Kadalipazham a type of plantain. The farmer kept up his promise by making golden bananas and at the behest of the priest he left the bunch of golden bananas outside the Sreekovil and left the place. When the priest returned after bath, he was shocked to see the bunch missing. As only a yogi was present there, he suspected the yogi and the matter was reported to the king. People started accusing the yogi for the theft. Next day, when the pujari performed abhishekam to the Lord, he observed that the abhisheka water was getting stagnated . This was because the drain hole was blocked with the golden bunch of bananas. The pujari realized his mistake and the king and others along with the pujari approached the yogi for forgiveness. But the humiliated yogi before committing suicide cursed them that they would lose their wealth and that his curse would end only after the town lost all its wealth. Accordingly,the town lost all its wealth. The yogi became a brahma rakshass due to his untimely death and the people to protect themselves from the wrath of the brahma rakshass constructed a small shrine and offered prayers to him. Even today, after nivedyam is offered to Thirkkakkarayappa the same is offered to the brahma rakshass too.
Vamanamoorthy Temple is of great mythological significance. Most number of stone manuscripts were found in this temple amongst Kerala temples. The Thrikkakkara temple has about 18 important stone inscriptions dating back to 10-13 A.D. The inscriptions which were published in the Travancore Archeological Series in 1916 by Mr. T.A. Gopinatha Rao (1916) and Mr. K.V. Subramania Iyer (1923) are in Vattezhuthu, the prototype of Malayalam. Thrikkakkara or Thirukalkarai, as it was known in the days of the Kulasekharas, was the capital of Kalkarainadu, a fiefdom under the Kulasekharas, it is believed. But there is no documentary evidence to prove it.
From the Thrikkakkara edicts emerges a picture of the Kulasekhara empire which existed till about 1102 A.D., as well as the socio-political and religious milieu of the times. It is believed that Kalakarainadu constituted the present Thrikkakkara, Edappally and surrounding areas. The names of a few chieftains appointed as naduvazhis of Kalkarainadu by the Kulasekhara kings who ruled from their capital Mahodayapuram are mentioned in the inscriptions most of which were written during the reign of the Kulasekhara kings Indukothai Varma (944 - 962) and Bhaskara Ravi Varman I (963 - 1019). One record also mentions the existence of Arunoottuvar or the 'Group of 600' who helped and controlled the naduvazhis
During the reign of Kulasekharas who were great patrons (and followers) of Vaishnavism, Hindu temples flourished in Kerala and Thrikkakkara was a major beneficiary of this royal patronage as can be seen from the inscriptions which mention generous to the temple.
By the turn of this century, Thrikkakkara Temple was in utter ruins with only the Adhishtana remaining. All the standing structures were dilapidated and the image of the deity was also broken down. After repeated pleas from the Vaishnavaites and the report of the Archeology Department the Maharaja of Travancore reconstructed the temple in its present form. Remnants of the old temple wall described by Nammalvar as 'kodimathil' can still be traced beneath the new structure and the pathway surrounding the temple.
The Thrikkakkara Temple that dates back to ancient times has no mention whatsoever about the Namboodiris, the community that held sway over Kerala after the advent of Hinduism. Neither is Edappally Swaroopam, the erstwhile principality with a Namboodiri ruler that had adjoined Kochi and had played a major historical role in Kerala, mentioned in the records. The temple and inscriptions might be older than the emergence of Namboodiris as a force and the formation of Edappally Swaroopam. But later the ruler of Edappally became the official priest there and till recently held the right to nominate the priest.
The inscriptions describe the celebration of Onam as an occasion when all local chieftains assembled at Thrikkakkara to pay their respect to the Kulasekhara Chakravarthi (Emperor). The festivities started from the star of Thiruvonam in the Malayalam month of Karkatakam and lasted for 28 days till Thiruvonam in the month of Chingam. The last 10 days saw the peak of celebrations. Later the festival was confined to these 10 days beginning from the Atham star in Chingam. The records describe the celebrations in detail and the roles assigned to each king. It is not clear whether the festival had any religious significance at that time. The festival of Onam that first began to be celebrated at Thrikkakkara has spread from there, spanning caste and creed, penetrating the farthest corner of the world where Malayalees have reached, even as the cold inscriptions from a bygone era remain silent spectators for all the pomp and splendour of the celebrations raging around every year.
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