|Thrikkakara Vamana Temple. kerala templepurohit.com|
There are a few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana, a dwarf-monk avatar of Sri Vishnu. Thrikkakara Temple (also called Thirukatkarai in Thrikkakara, Kochi is popular one in Kerala. Located about 10 km north east of Kochi, it gains the most attention of the entire state during the popular Onam festival. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam shrines sung in praise of the lord by the Tamil Vaishnavite saints Azhavars centuries ago.
|The Chuttu-Vilakkuduring Onam at Thrikkakara temple. en.wikipedia.org|
Other deities included here are Bhagavati, Sasthavu, Gopalakrishna, Naga, Brahmarakshasa and Yakshi. Located in the outer complex is the shrine dedicated to Brahmarakshasa along with a Banyan-tree god and the Sarpa Kavu. Surrounding the inner complex walls is a series of thousands of lamps with brackets fixed to the walls called ''Chuttuvilakku'' (surrounding lamps'), a common feature in many Kerala Hindu temples. The complex has two temple tanks (in Tamil Kulam or Pushkarani) - one is close to the temple on the Northern side of the sanctum and the other one is on the Northern side outside the temple walls. The former can be accessed only by temple priests who bathe in the tank before starting daily puja rituals and the latter is used regularly during the Aaraattu ritual - ceremonial bath of the idol during Onam celebrations.
Yet another unique feature in this temple complex is the presence of a Shiva temple besides the main Vamanamoorthy temple, In places like Tamil Nadu it is rare to see both lord Shiva and lord Vishnu temples in the same complex.The Shiva temple has idols of Ganesha, Karthikeya and Durga. About the origin of the temple, details are vague; it underwent renovation about a hundred years ago. As for Vamana temple, it was renovated in 2014.
During Kerala's most popular festival Onam, no other temple gets as much attention as the Vamana temple at Thrikkakara. Considered as the prime center of Onam celebrations, it is said to be the abode of King Mahabali, an Asura (demon) who was subdued by lord Mahavishnu. The Onam festival - a ten day event is celebrated here with bhakti and religious fervor in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The temple houses the main deity Vishnu in the avatar of Lord Vamana. During the festival a pyramidal statue, symbolic of Lord Vamana, is installed as a mark of honour at all other sites of the celebration, and named ''Thrikkakara-appan''. It is believed that the temple stands in the place where king Mahabali is said to have been pushed to the underworld - Patala by Lord Vamana with his foot, thus marking the birth of the Onam festival. The etymology of the name Thrikkakara ('Thiru-kaal-kara' meaning 'place of the holy foot') is also derived this way. Some of the interesting events associated with the Onam festival at Thrikkakara are Arts performances, Flag-hoisting and lowering, Atthachamayam procession and finale:Onam feast:Decoration of idol Processions.
The Onam festival is the main festival of this temple jointly organized by the 61 Naduvazhis (local rulers) under the leadership of the Maharajah of Travancore. The Onasadya or the Onam feast is held in a grand manner in the temple with people of various faiths and religions turning out in large numbers for the Sadya event. That it is a symbol of religious unity, humanity and equality is the hallmark of this festival.
The last one - procession of idol of Vamana is an interesting one; main deity Vamana on a ceremonial caparisoned elephant is taken around the temple, accompanied by a herd of about eight caparisoned elephants and Panchavadyam (drums). The procession stops for a while at each of the temple gates (East, West, North and South), and finally proceeds back to temple. The Utchavanurthy will be reverentially kept in the sanctum by the temple priest.
The temple also observes important festivals in the Hindu calendar such as Vishu, Diwali, Makar Sankranti, Navrathri and Saraswati Puja not on a scale as Onam The temple is being managed by the Travancore Devaswom Board.
|Thrikkakara Vamana Temple. kerala vaikhari.org|