|Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple, Kerala. myindiaencounters.wordpress.com|
|Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple, krishnamuralika.blogspot.com|
The temple at Mannarsala, located about 40 km from Alappuzha Town, Kerala and near to the town of Haripad, is an ancient temple exclusively dedicated to snakes /serpents. This unique place of veneration where the snakes are the objects of worship is an internationally known center of pilgrimage for the devotees of serpent god - Nagaraja. Built in the middle of a wooded area in the Western Ghat area surrounded by numerous trees. The Nagaraja temple has over 30,000 small stone images of snakes set by the blessed couples all along the paths crisscrossing the serene forest area. It is said that snake bites seldom occur here and the serpents guard the property of the temple.
|Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple, Kerala. krishnanz.blogspot.com|
This temple is believed to have been built by Sage Parasurama roughly 6000 years ago! This small piece of land was once part of the 'Khandeeva' forest mentioned in Mahabharata, which, fortunately was not affected by the devastating wild forest fire, as the people living there took precaution that saved innumerable snakes from death. The mud in the soil became cool, hence the name - Mannarasalai (Mann aariya Salai) and later this became Mannarasala.
When Sage Parasurama brought the Brahmins to look after the temple, they refused to stay here because of numerous snakes and salty nature of water. On the advice of Lord Shiva, Parasurama propitiated the king of snakes Vasuki. The lord of the snakes assured him that the snakes would stay here and won't hurt people in the village. Subsequently the water became potable. The Namboodiri Brahmins returned, built their houses here and began their religious duties happily. Sage Parasurama built a temple for Naga Raja and Naga Yakshi in that place. He instructed one family called Irinada palli to build their home within the temple compound. The first residents of this house were Vasudevan Namboodiri and his wife Sridevi Andarjanam.
|Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple, Kerala. www.panoramio.com|
Uruli Kamizhthal is a unique worship performed by childless couples at this temple. Childless women seeking fertility come to this temple in large numbers for intense worship and prayer, and upon the birth of their child, the couple come back here to thank the deity profusely. Further, they perform thanks-giving ceremonies with the help of pundits. The most important aspect is they dedicate a new small stone image of the snake in the vicinity of the temple as a token of their gratitude to the temple deity. Thousands of stone images here were all set by the couples who were blessed with a child after their first visit to this temple. A special turmeric paste that is available at the temple is credited with curative powers.
The main offering in the temple is “noorum palaum”. This is the mixture of rice powder, turmeric powder and milk and they will be kept outside the temple at night. Following morning, the contents of the vessel are poured in the mud. The Noorum palum is also given to the snake in the store house. Next day when the store is opened, one will be surprised to see an empty vessel. The major festival is celebrated in the month of October-November - the Aslesha (Ayilyam) star of the Thula month. Monthly Shivaratri is also celebrated here.
Childless couples and those who have Naga Dosham based on their individual horoscope come to this temple with the strong belief that their problems and desires will be taken care of by the presiding deity - the lord of the snakes Nagaraja.