Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple

     

Place

: Haripad, Alappuzha

Significance

:

One of the most important and ancient centers of snake worship in Kerala.

Best Time to Visit

:

September and October

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Traditionally, Hindus practice of serpent worship and naga (snake) worshippers have always built their temples in serpent groves. Of these, Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is the largest with 30,000 images of snake gods, and hundreds of snakes living around the temple.

One of the most important and ancient centers of snake worship in Kerala, it is situated at Mannarassala 35 Km away from Alappuzha near Harippad in NH 47 on the Alappuzha-Kollam route.

Nestled in a forest glade an area of about 16 acres like most snake temples, the main deity here is the serpent God Nagaraja (King of Serpents). The temple is claimed to be 6000 years old and is believed to have been built by Sage Parasurama. Now it is under the patronage of a brahmin family, headed by a priestess.

There are many legends associated with the temple. It is believed that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five-headed snake referred to as 'Muthassan' or 'Appoppan' (grandfather), which is believed to reside in the cellar (Nilavara) of the ancestral house to safeguard the family. The asterism 'Ayilyam' of Malayalam months- Kanni, Tulam and Kumbham - or the months of September and October, is celebrated with great fervor here. Mahasivaratri festival is also celebrated with great religious fervor.

It is believed that the Nagaraja deity installed here is an artistic form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva. There are also shrines for 'Sarpa Yakshi' and 'Naga Yakshi', the beloved consorts of Nagaraja and also for Nagachamundi, his sister. The serpent shrine is maintained by a Brahmin family headed by a priestess better known as 'Valia amma' (The great mother). The rituals of the temple are presided over by this priestess.

The entrance to the temple, surrounded by about 16 acres of thick green forest, is lined with rows of stone images of serpents reportedly 30,000 of them. Left side of entrance is the seva ticket counters. There are shops on the right side of entrance where one can purchase of any sort of puja items, cloths, food etc.

On the eastern side of the temple 'Pulluvans' (a community) sing 'Pulluvan Pattu' (serpent songs) with ardent faith. On the south west of the shrine is the 'Thevaram chamber' where the great mother worships Nagaraja. The main sanctum houses two mini temples for the Sarpayakshi and Lord Nagaraja.

The temple is credited with surprising cures. Prasadam made of turmeric paste given from this temple is believed to be effective for recovering from many types of diseases or conditions including leprosy, poison infections etc. Childless women come her for blessings and return for a thanksgiving ceremony when they get a child. Gifts equalling the weight of the child are offered to the diety. Also, they bring new snake images as offerings. But the most popular offering of this temple is 'Uruli Kamazhthal', the placing of a bell metal vessel upside down in front of the deity, which is believed to restore fertility to childless couples.

The most important offering in the temple is noorum palaum which is available at the temple is credited with curative powers. This is the mixture of rice powder, turmeric powder and milk.

Treatment for snake poison and rat poison is rendered at the temple.

The major festival here is the Ayilyam festival which falls on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thulam( October / November). Ezhunellathu (procession) in which all the serpent idols in the temple and the sacred grove are taken to the illam (the Brahmin ancestral home) that manages the temple. The priestess will carry the golden deity (Thidambu), which is the presiding deity of the temple to the Illam. Special prayers which continued till late in the night ended with the offering of 'thattil noorum palum' are performed at the illam.

The temple has a seperate parking space for vehicles.

 







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