Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Timings:
Morning: 5.00 AM to 12.00 PM
Evening: 4.00 PM to 9.00 PM
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Pooja Timings:
The temple poojas are performed usually according to the time table given below. However on festive days, the timings differ. the belief is that if the a devotee worships Vaikkathappan, Ettumanoorappan and Kaduthuruthy devan before the ‘Ucha Pooja’ the same day, all wishes are fulfilled.
3.30 AM Palli Unarthal
4.00 AM Nadathurappu, Nirmalya Darsana, Ethirthu Pooja, Usha Pooja
6.30 AM Ethirthu Sribeli
7.30 AM Panthiradi Pooja
9.00 AM Navakam Pooja
10.00 AM Ucha Pooja, Abhisheka – Panchagavyam, Navakam, and special Abhishekas
11.30 AM Ucha Sribeli
5.00 PM Nadathurappu
6.30 PM Deeparadhana
7.00 PM Athaza Pooja
8.00 PM Athaza Sribeli
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Origin:
The ancient Sanskrit texts, Bhargava Purana & Sanalkumara Samhita mention this place as Vaiyaghra geham and Vaiyaghra puram.
As per legends Vyaghrapada Maharshi got Siva darsana here, so it was fittingly called Vyaghrapadapuram. Later, when Tamil spread, the word Vaiyaghra got transformed as Vaikom.
Today Vaikom is one of the most revered Shiva shrines in South India. The temple alongwith Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple is considered a powerful trisome. The belief is that if a devotee worships at these three temples before ‘Ucha pooja’, all the wishes are fulfilled.
Though Vaikkath Asthami is the the better known festival at the temple, it celebrates many other festivals, some of them unique to the temple.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple History:
Kharasura on receiving the Shaiva Vidya Upadesh from Malyavan went to Chidambaram, and did severe penance and Tapasya for the attainment of Moksha. Pleased with his penance Lord Siva granted all the boons he asked, and presented him with three great Siva Lingas drawn out of Him. Assuring that He will ever be present in them, Lord Siva disappeared, asking Khara to worship the Lingas to attain Moksha. When Khara was returning south from Himalayas with the three Lingas, one in his right hand, one in left hand and other by the neck, he felt tired and rested awhile. After rest when he tried to pick up the lingas, they wouldn’t budge. He realized that it was Shiva’s maya and when called unto, the heavens spoke thus, “I shall remain here giving Moksha to whom so ever * take refuge in Me”. Khara having attained Moksha entrusted the holy Lingas to the custody of Maharshi Vyaghrapada who had followed him invisibly and asked the sage to protect and worship them.
Belief is that the Siva Linga placed by Khara Asura by his right hand is being worshipped at Vaikom, the one in left hand at Ettumannoor and the one by neck at Kaduthuruthy even to this day.
The Linga carried by Khara with his neck is believed to be at Kadathuruthy and the one by his left hand is at Ettumanoor. The fact that the distance from Vaikom to Kadathuruthy and from there to Ettumanoor is more or less the same, gives credence to this legend. So the Darsana of all these three Lingas on a same day is considered as good as the Siva Darsana at Kailas – the Abode of the Lord.
On a *Vritchika – Krishna paksha – Ashtami dahy (According to Malayalam Era), the Lord of Lords and God of Gods – Siva the Paremeswara appeared to the Maharshi with his consort Parvati – the Jagat Janani. The Lord proclaimed, “This place shall be known as Vyaghrapadapurma”, and disappeared. The world famous Vaikkathashtami and all connected holy festivals are observed here even to this day on the same Vrichika – Krishna*- Ashtami.
Vyaghrapada Maharshi continued the Pooja in most esteem and devotion for some time and went on pilgrimage.Months and years passed. Sri Parasurama – the Chiramjeevi was going by the sky one day. Seeing good omens alighted here and saw a Holy Siva Linga emerged in water emitting heavenly rays. He could understand that it was the Siva Linga placed by Khara.
Sri Parasurama thought himself that, the holiest and noblest Siva Chaitanya could be a great refuge for the devoted who wish to attain Moksha. He consecrated the auspicious Linga here with His earnest Prayers and recitation of Siva Manthras.
The most benign Lord Siva at once appeared with his consort Parvati Devi before Parasurama. He was so pleased that the Linga was consecrated with the Manthras by Parasurama – the incarnation of Vishnu, his greatest devotee. The kind Lord Siva said to Parasurama, “From now onwards I shall stay here as Shaiva-Vaishnava Chaithanya granting all blisses and Moksha to all devotees”.
Full of joy and gratitude Parasurama performed Siva Linga pooja there for some days. Then he himself built a temple here and entrusted a noble Brahmin of Taruna village whom he taught Pooja Manthras. The Brahmin had learned all the 28 Sivagama and wore rudraksha and bhasma. Parasurama donated the whole temple with Linga to Brahmins and disappeared.It is the belief that the temple and all rites and customs are planned and fixed by Parasurama himself.
The three Bhavas or forms of Vyaghralayesha:
It is believed that the ‘Vyaghralayesha’ Siva gives His Blessings to the Devotees in three Bhavas or forms in the morning, noon, and evening in this Holy Temple.
In the morning till Pantheeradi Pooja He assumes the form of Sri. Dhakshinamoorthy – the Guru of gurus venerated by all of the Gods, Maharshis, Asuras, Yakshas, Kinnaras, and all living creatures and all worlds. He grants wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
In the noon time upto the Madhyahna Pooja He assumes the Bhava of Kiratha Moorthi who gave Pashupathastra to His noblest devotee Arjuna. Then He grants success in all endeavours and removes all obstacles – ‘Sarvakarya Jayam’ and ‘Sarva Vighnopa Santhi’, to the Bhakthas.
In the evening Lord Siva or the Vaikkathappan assumes the Bhava of ‘Shakti Panchakshari’- the benign Lord of Kailas – Jagath Pitha with His consort Jagath Matha Parvathi, sons Ganapathi and Karthikeya all seated in a very happy and gracious mood. Then He grants even all worldy pleasures and all what devotees ask Him.
The above facts are not only the belief of the Devotees but also are testified by them. So let us approach the Lord of Lords with a pure and sincere heart.
The Bhasma or ashes of Vaikom:
The most important prasada of VAIKKATHAPPAN is Bhasma –Vibhoothi or Ashes. It is taken from the fire place of the big Kitchen where Sri Vaikkathappan is believed to do work in the disguise of a Brahmin.
The legends proclaim this Bhasma as a holy remedy for fear, poison, wounds and even Hysteria. The belief of the miraculous power of the Bhasma is testified by the devotees in plenty. So we must keep and preserve this most precious gift of the kindest of Lords – VAIKKATHAPPAN.
Ganga Prapatha Theertha:
Once when Parasurama came to worship Vyaghralayesha, he discovered that the people and animals were suffering for lack of water. He invoked the Lord and told the sorrows. Asked what boon he wanted, Parasurama asked “Kindly make and grant a Theertha for the devotees who come in Kaliyuga with a lot of sins, to drink, bathe and tharpan (a cleansing ceremony to wash off the sins and appease the Gods and ancestors)”. The belief is that the Theertha has the Ganges from Shiva’s matted hair and was blessed by Devas, Kinnaras and Gandharvas. This is the pond we see in the northern side of the temple compound. It is duly called ‘Ganga Prapatha Theertha’ or Valiyachira.
Once Maharshi Nidagha from Panchal desa came to Vyaghrapada Maharshi while he was meditating Lord Shiva. He begged the Maharshi to accept him as a disciple. Vyaghrapada Maharshi taught Nidagha Shaiva Manthra Vidya and Upasana Yoga and blessed him saying that all success and Mukti could be achieved by Siva Bhajan. Nidagha was doing Sivopasana with much devotion. On an Ashtami day Vyaghrapada Maharshi and Nidagha Maharshi were worshipping Sthambha Ganesh and Siva. Pleased with their devoted strotras the Lord of Kailas appeared in North-East corner and performed Anand Thandava. At that time from His matted hair a few drops of water fell down. Siva blessed and called it ‘Sivananda Theertha’ and disappeared. Vyaghrapada Maharshi and Nidagha Maharshi took water from that and sprinkled on their bodies and drank.
This Theertha in the North-eastern corner is now transformed to a well and its water is being used only for poojas in the temple.
Shankara and Mukunda, two learned young Brahmins from Kanya Kumari well versed in Shastras reached Vaikom on their way to Kashi. While enjoying the bhajan and meals of Vaikkathappan Mukunda left to Kashi without Shankara. The thought of being unable to take bath in Ganga and loneliness made Shankara very much heartbroken and soon he fell with severe fever. One day he was in deep sleep after a sincere prayer to Lord Siva – Vyaghralayesha. Then in a dream the Lord asked him to take bath in the eastern pond and assured the fulfillment of his desires. As per the Maheswara’s order, Shankara rose in early morning and took bath in the pond reciting Manthras. Shankara’s joy knew no bounds to note that he was really in the Ganga Theertha when he rose from the pond’s water.
He praised the Lord Siva even forgetting himself. At the same moment Vyaghrapada Maharshi arrived there and assured him that his friend will return after eighteen months and he may return with his friend to attain Siva Sayoojyam by adoring Stanumalaya, the Suchindra Nath. The same Theertha in the east is known as Aarthi Hara Theertha or Aarthi Vinasana Theertha. It is believed that your bath and Turpan* here is as good as what is done in the Holy Ganga.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Architecture:
The yard and Gopura:
One of the bigger temples in Kerala, the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple has a courtyard of about eight acres of land. The premises levelled with river sand is protected by compound walls with four Gopuras or towers on all the four sides.
The temple faces the East. Near the east Gopura there is a protected platform where a pipal tree, a mango tree and a jackfruit tree all grow together. Presently only pipal tree is alive. The great Shaivopasak Vyaghrapada Maharshi is said to have done penance and pooja here and it is in the same place he got Siva-Sakthi Darsana and Athmasashathkar or fulfillment, and this place is known as Vyaghrapada Sthana.
The inner structures and Mandapa:
The golden flag staff is really a pride of the temple. Then we enter Balikalulpura(the place of the sacrificial stone) where Stambha Ganesh is seated at its north-east corner. Walking further we enter the Namaskara Mandapa. The story of Ramayana is sculptured on the inner roof. For the main offerings of Vaikkathappan such as Dravya Kalasa, Margazhi Kalasa poojas are performed and Veda Manthras are recited from here. A huge Nandi made in a single stone together with a small one for Archana are in the east of this Mandapa. Passing through the stone laid inner way we reach the Sreekovil or The Holy of Holies of Shree Vaikkathappan – the Annadana Prabhu who fulfils every desire of His devotees.
The Sree Kovil or Main inner yard:
The Sreekovil is round in shape roofed with copper sheets and with two chambers. The Mukha Mandapa – the first chamber is built in shaped stone and single piece woods. The walls and pillars are very strong. The Garbha Griha(Sanctum Santorium) – the second chamber is built completely in stone including the roof in a square shape. There is a Peedhom or platform of about three foot high in the middle of it. On this Peedhom the most Holy, the most famous and the most Noble Siva Linga of SHREE VAIKKATHAPPAN is consecrated. It is of about six feet high made of chaste black stone. The Linga is adorned with Chandrakala (crescent), three eyes, nose and four hands with Saiva abharanams(ornaments) in the form of ‘anky’ in pure gold. (Siva Abharanams are Parasu, Mruga, Varada and Abhaya mudras). Inside the Holy of Holies Oil and ghee lamps are only lighted together with camphor. This gives a Heavenly appearance to it. The hundreds of thousands of devotees attain fulfillment at the sight of this Holiest Linga reciting all kinds of Sivasthuthis. The bhava or forms and peace of this place cannot be described but only to be experienced. The outer walls of Sreekovil are decorated nicely with paintings of puranic stories and wooden sculptures.
Six steps and their meaning:
It is a very curious and peculiar fact that we are unable to obtain the Darsana of the Supreme Saiva Chaitanya from this Sreekovil without passing through six steps either from the Gopura or the Nada. It may be reminding us the Shad (six) vikaras (emotions) such as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Mathsarya or the thantrik chakras as per the thanthrik Kalpana. They are the Mooladhara Chakram, Swadhishtana Chakram, Manipuraka Chakram, Anahatha Chakram, Visudhi Chakram and Jnana Chakram.
In the Agni cone (south-east corner) outside the Sreekovil is the Vighneswara Prathishta on a Peedhom of stone, Maha Ganapathy in the South and Sakthy Ganapathy in the north are consecrated. The idols are in pancha loha.
Mathrusila, Vilwa tree and the Ashtadikpalakas:
The Mathrusila where the Belistones of the seven divine Mathas are kept is to the south of Sreekovil. In the eastern part of the Mathrusala is the Thidapally where the Nivedya is prepared. The buildings of the temple courts are built surrounding the Sreekovil. In the vayu kone of the Sreekovil we would witness a centuries old Vilwa tree with two barks, still in a flourishing condition; it is a wonderful sight. The Ashtadikpalakas or Lords of the eight directions etc. are consecrated in the yard of the Sreekovil. Varuna – the Lord of water finds a special place in the west.
In the temple court of north we could see a very holy place called the ‘Manya Sthana’ where Vaikkathappan was seen eating Prathal dressed like a Brahmin, by Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar. To preserve the memory a stone is placed with Ashta dala and around it the following sloka is inscribed.
Payat vanchinrupa praja
Annado bhusurair bhokta
Yotra sakshatkruta pura’
A lighted Bhadradeepa is kept in this place and the beginning of Prathal or Annadana is still done from here. The Brahmins were fed here at the north side of the temple court from ancient times.
Towards the east Manya Sthana is the big kitchen where Prathal items are cooked. Lord VAIKKATHAPPAN has been seen doing work at this kitchen. The ashes from the fireplace is used as the main prasada of the temple. The Brahmin Bhojan is now discontinued after the social and political changes. But the ‘Prathal’ is still in force as a great offering to the ‘Lord of Food distribution’ – ‘Annadana Prabhu’.
The Closed Door:
The Vaikom Temple was in the ownership of one hundred and eight families in olden days. The owners were divided into two groups and one group joined the ruler’s side. Their disputes and quarrels increased day by day. One day a section of the divided group came to the temple at noon. The chief among them a certain Njallal Namboothiri was prepared to stop the pooja in the noon. At that time the Nivedya was used to be placed in the western side of the Namaskara Mandapa. There was an entrance in the western courtyard. The Njallal Namboothiri after keeping his apron (Randam Mundu) above the western door came near the Nivedyas and spat the remains of his betel chewing on the Nivedya. So the pooja was disrupted. On return, while he was taking his apron from the door top it is stated that a highly poisonous snake bit him to death. He crawled himself outside the west and died. The Western door of the temple courtyard automatically closed itself then and a voice was heard from inside the Sreekovil thus “This door should not be opened any more”. The door remains closed to this day to show the wrath of the Great Lord against the disruption of His poojas.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Deities:
To the south side of the temple yard we could witness a Shakteya Sanidhya called Panachikkal Bhagavathi. The origin of it is described in legends as follows:
The great sage Agasthya with many Maharshis was returning after worshipping Vaikkathappan on a Pradosha day. A Gandharva Kanyaka named Neelakundala was travelling with her parivar then. Being very proud she laughed at the Maharshis and even the Maheswara. The angry Agasthya cursed her, “Be a Rakshasi”. When she repented and asked for Shapa Moksha (redemption) the Maharshi said “After 86 years you will get Shapa Moksha (redemption) here in Vyaghrapadapuram”.
Sthambha Vinayaka was in charge of the temple protection from the day Parasurama left for pilgrimage. One day the cruel Rakshasi came there troubling the people and animals. The people approached Vyaghrapada Muni. He remembered the old story of Rakshasi and prayed to Sthambha Vinayaka who ordered His servant Bhadrayush to deal with her. With a Thrissul he cut the Rakshasi into three pieces. All the three pieces were then transformed into the forms of three Devis and they praised Vaikkathappan and Sthambha Ganapathi for granting Moksha.
At the request of Sthamba Vinayaka Vaikkathappan granted them each a place. The middle piece is remaining here in the southern part of the temple yard and known as Panachikkal Bhagavati. The other Devies were sent tot Cherikkumel in the south and Koottummel in the north.
The Sarppa Sanidhya:
To the south of temple yard the Sarppas (Snake Gods) are worshipped. Rituals and poojas are performed here only once a year. There was a pipal tree and a surrounding elevated platform, which was destroyed some years ago. However a new tree has been planted and the platform rebuilt in recent years. Previously Pampumekkad Illom was in charge of the poojas. Now after so many changes the Parampur Bhattathiri of Thiruvalla is having the right to do the poojas in this Sarppa Sanidhya. In the Malayalam month of Kumba (Feb-March) special poojas for the Sarppas are performed nowadays.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Thantries & Priests:
The speciality of Vaikom Temple unlike any other Temple is that here the Thanthra is divided between two illams (Brahmin houses). The Thanthra of this Temple was in charge of Monattu Illam in ancient days. About 500 years ago there was a big fire in the Temple. The Thanthri Monattu Namboothiri entered the Sreekovil and covered the Siva Linga with a large copper vessel (Andav) and he recited the Varuna Manthra and stayed there embracing the Linga and for many days till the fire was extinguished. People saw the Thanthri unconscious and they took him out and brought him to consciousness. After coming to sense the Thanthri prayed ardently and he declared “In the future my family members will not be ready to undergo such hardships so I renounce the right of doing Thanthra here.” Vaikkathappan did not like this as He was always ready to protect who love Him with faith. Even though this was well known to the Thanthri his behavior was not approved by the Lord. So as a result it is said that the old Monattu Mana became issueless and got extinct.
Afterwards the Thanthra has gone to Mekkattu Illam. One day, in Puthussery house there were no male members available to perform the ‘Panikottu’ (special type of drumbeat for the Sreebeli) for the Pooja. Only a pregnant lady who was so devoted to the Lord Siva was available. That woman approached her relatives for help because it was the time to begin the festival. Her relatives were only conscious of their rights and money and they refused to do their duty. The lady prayed to Vaikkathappan earnestly in tears. Then she got an apparition of the Lord who spoke to her “What grows in your womb is a male baby and you boldly go to My temple and perform the duty”. Next day after taking bath she went to the Temple in wet cloth when it was time for Beli. The Chief Thanthri seeing her asked if she knows to perform the Panikottu. The lady replied that with the blessing of the Lord she shall try. Again she asked Thanthri whether she has to play the instrument in the closed way or open way and Thanthri replied to do it in the open way. Then according to the will of the Lord, the woman was possessed with the spirit of Nandikesa and she performed the Vadyamela in such a lively way that the Thanthri found it very difficult to do the Beli easily. But inspired by the special course of that thala-laya the Bhootha Gana came in the real shape to receive Beli. At that time the noted magician and Thanthri Bhadra Kali Mattappalli Nampoothiri was traveling through the Vembanattu lake after seeing the Maharaja. Hearing the extraordinary rhythm of the drums he came to the Temple. Then he saw the Thanthri was in dilemma standing in the Southern part of the Beli route and the impatient Bhootha Gana in their original form asking for the Beli Vasthu. As the Thanthri could not speak while putting the Beli the Mekkattu Nampoothiri asked help from Bhadra Kali Mattappalli Nampoothiri. He demanded the half Thanthra by gestures and the Thanthri agreed. So Bhadra Kali Mattappalli Nampoothiri after a dip in the Theertha came and performed the rest of the Beli and the haviss and all articles were received under soft thala laya. The Bhoothas were pleased and they disappeared. From that day onwards the responsibility of Thanthra of this great Temple was divided between two families in memory of that. Even today the flag is hoisted on either side of the mast in accordance with who is hoisting the flag. If Mekkattu Nampoothiri is hoisting, it is done on the southern side and if Mattappalli, it is on the northern side. The custom of keeping some rice and water intending for the Bhootha Gana at the right side of plantain leaf before eating is still continued by the Karanavar (chief) of Bhadra Kali Mattappalli Nampoothiri’s family.
The Santhies and other servants:
The Santhies (priests) of Vaikom Temple come from Kadathanadu in Vadakara Taluk of Kozhikode District. The place is so Holy with the Lokanarkavu Bhagavathi and is the birthplace of champions of Kalari payat like Aromal Chekavar, Unniyarcha and Thacholi Othenan. The following eleven houses have the right to do the Santhi in Vaikom. They are Arangottu Illam, Thy Illam, Meladathu Illam, Kolai Illam, Ezhancherry Illam, Reyara Mangalath Illam, Nalloor Kandi Illam, Azhattu Illam, Paroli Illam, Kani Illam and Tharani Illam. In the beginning the Melsanthi title was with Choya Mangalath Illam then it came to Arangottu Illam. When the old Arangottu Illam became extinct without any heir this post was shifted to Tharani Illam, and it is still continued. So the offsprings of the Tharani Illam have the right to be Melsanthi and the rest ten Illams have the right to do the Keezh Santhy.
Other works related to the Temple are performed by Moosad of the East and West families. And the Kizhakkedathu Moosad having the first place. The invitation for the flag hoisting, reception etc. are the right of Kizhakkedathu Moosad.
The flowers and garlands are prepared by Mullassery Unni family and Kazhakam (the right of cleaning & Vilakkeduppu) is the right of Perumthrukkovil varyam. The right to do the Pooja Kottu, Pani Kottu etc. goes to Puthussery family. These together are the Karanma right related to Vaikom Temple.
All the other employees are appointed by Devaswom Board of Travancore. They don’t have any rights in the Temple.
The right to prepare the delicacies for the Pratal ie, Anna Dana is mainly with Muttass Nampoothiri. Once the Holy Vilwa Mangalathu Swamiar came to meet Vaikkathappan in the noon time. He could not find the Siva Sannidhya in the Sreekovil. He went in search of the Lord in the whole temple courtyard and happened to see Vaikkathappan doing work in a Brahmin dress at the big Kitchen. When Vaikkathappan saw the Vilwa Mangalathu Swamiar, He handed over the Chattukom (spoon) to the Muttass Nampoothiri and disappeared. From that day onwards the right (Karanma) was with Muttass Nampoothiri. The Muttass Nampoothiri ritually takes bath and brings a burning charcoal taken from the Thidappally and comes in front of the Sreekovil, rings the bell and worships the Lord. His works start only after this ritual. Rice, Payasam, Kaallan, Erissery etc. (different types of dishes) are prepared in the big Kitchen. Other items are prepared by the Brahmin Samooha in the small Kitchen next to the feeding house (Oottupura). The right to cut the vegetables is with sixteen Nair families known as Pathinaranmar and they are experts in their job.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Customs:
It is an important custom of the temple before the flag is hoisted. It is an offering by the Devaswom, Rulers and the Bhaktas of Vaikkathappan and a special tribute to Him. On that day the Sribali is brought on an elephant in a grand procession. Recital of Vedas, special Abhishekas, Pratal and Vilakku are other main rituals. The Main Sandhya Velas are Mukha Sandhya Vela, Pully Sandhya Vela, Perumpadappu Sandhya Vela and Samooha Sandhya Vela. Some are conducted only nominally nowadays. The Chief Sandhya Vela is done by the Rajas of Ettumannoor, Thekkumkoor, Ambalapuzha and Thiruvalla and are performed in four days. It starts from the Revathy and ends on Karthika of the Thulam month in Malayalam and it is the first among the Sandhya Velas.
After attaching the coastal areas of Alappuzha and Cherthala the Maharaja of Tranvancore Sri. Marthanda Varma started the next Sandhya Vela. The interest of salary arrears of the dead soldiers in that war is used for Sandhya Vela. It is done on alternate days every year. Now the Mukha Sandhya Vela and Pulli Sandhya Vela are looked after by the Devaswom Board after the rule of the Maharajas has ended. The Perumpadappu Sandhya Vela was done by the heads of the Perumpadappu Swaroopam – the Kochi Rajas in Vaikom Temple. They used to keep a full measure of rice every day before their meals. That rice was carried to the temple and given as Pratal every year on the Sandhya Vela day.
They used to bring each and every article for the Pratal and Sandhya Vela and it was a notable aspect of this Sandhya Vela. They have dug even a well for the same purpose in the Esana Cone (north-east corner) of the feeding house. This Sandhya Vela was also discontinued because of the differences between the rulers of Travancore and Cochin. We could see the deserted well today, reminding us the bad and wicked antics of the erstwhile rulers.
The people of the place performed separate Sandhya Velas on separate days. That is called the Samooha Sandhya Vela. The communities of the Virada Tamil Viswa Brahma Samooha (Gold Smiths), Arya Samooha, the Vaikom Samooha, Telungu Samooha and the Vadayar Samooha are the main groups who conduct this Sandhya Vela.
The Goldsmiths of Viswakarma Samudaya inhabit here in thiry six and half desha. They send an annual tribute to their Swami in Thirunelveli. Their Swami insisted to use the amounts thus collected as a tribute to Vaikkathappan. So this Sandhya Vela was started by that amount. It is conducted on the Sukla Paksha Navami before the flag hoisting.
The Arya Samooha, Vaikom Samooha, Telungu Samooha, Vadayar Samooha are mainly the group of Tamil Brahmins. The Vaikom Samooha used to consider Vaikkathappan as their first member, Udayanapurathappan as the second member, the third and fourth members being Melsanthy, Thanthries and other temple employees. They are more in number and are more powerful. The first Sandhya Vela of the Brahmins performed on Sukla Paksha Chathurthy in Malayalam month of Thulam by Arya Samooha,* a section of Vaikom Samooha. On alternate days Vaikom Samooha, Telungu Samooha and lastly Vadayar Samooha observed Sandhya Velas. If there are more days for the flag hoisting after the Sandhya Vela the responsibility to fill the gap is with the Vadayar Samooha.
Offering of a single coin (Otta Panam Vaikkal) is a special feature of the Sandhya Vela of the Brahmins. In the evening lamps are lit in Belikalpura and members of the community come forward and each offer a coin on a cloth spread on the floor. The custom is that the coins are tied together without counting and opened in front of all the community on the next day in noon and counted and handed over to the treasurer of the community.
When there is Pratal in the temple the right and duties to do the work of cooking in the big kitchen goes to Mutus Namboothiri. In like manner, cooking and preparation of curry etc. go to the Brahmin community. The preparation of large items, small items, arranging of plantain leafs, distribution of water and rice are divided among all the Samooham. The supervision is done by each Samooham daily in rotation to make the things easy. The oil needed for the Sandhya Vela of the Vaikom Samooha is brought by the Cherthala Samooha and the rice by Mankompu and Velinad areas. While doing Pratal in Udayanapuram Temple the same rules and rights are kept.
The great mite – Valiya Kanikka
As a reward for the old help, the right to offer the first mite still remains with the Karukayil Kaimal coming on a Palanquin. It is known as the Valiya Kanikka in connection with Ashtami festival.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Kalackal Nandi:
Kalakkal Temple is related to Vaikom Temple. Kalakkal Valiyachan is considered as the first servant the Nandi of Sri Parameswara. The local people call His Prathishta as Kalakkal Valiyachan (Nandi). Even from ancient times the ownership rests with an Ezhava family named Kalakkal. The festival is observed on the 10th day of Medam month in Malayalam.
After the Athazha Pooja and Sreebeli, the Vaikom Temple closes; from then to the ritualistic awakening of the Lord (Palli Unarthal) next morning, the protection of the temple rests with the Kalakkal Kavudayon or Kalakkal Valiyachan. Once a Vidwan named Pachu Moosad was fasting in the Temple. He was a miraculous Satwa was doing Pradikshana on the boundary walls holding Sreekovil Shigara Kalasa by one hand and that was Kalakkal Valiyachan, the Nandi. When Vaikkathappan’s procession goes outside the Temple an open sword is carried which is brought from the Kalakkal Temple. This custom shows the special relation of the two Temples. Vaikom Devaswom gives a certain amount to Kalakkal Temple.
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple DAILY RITUALS AND RITES:
A day in this Holy Temple of Vaikkathappan starts at Saraswathi yama by awakening the greatest Lord and opening the Holy door of Sreekovil. As soon as the door is opened we get Nirmalya Darsana. Afterwards there is Abhisheka or Holy Bath. Then there are three poojas in the morning namely Usha Pooja, Ethirthu Pooja or reception pooja and Panthiradi Pooja. There is Ucha Pooja that is noon pooja and in the night Athazha Pooja or the Pooja of supper is performed daily. There are also three Sribeli viz Ethirthu Sribeli, Ucha Sribeli and Athazha Sribeli. The Abhishekas named Panchagavyam, Navakam and any special Abhishekas that is Holy Baths are ordinarily performed during the Ucha Pooja. After noon Sribeli the Temple is closed till 5 pm. But special Abhishekas and Poojas are performed on certain days like Monday, Thiruvathira, Pradosha, Krishna Paksha Ashtami and Pournami even in the evening. On such special Pooja days and days of Sankarama* the Lord Vaikkathappan is carried in Rushabha Vahana for Athazha Sribeli in the night. Then the Temple remains closed till next day 4 am.
The Recital of Ghattium:
It is a special ritual performed only in this Holy Temple of Vaikkathappan. It does not exist in any Temple in Kerala or anywhere else. The recital of ghattium is ordinarily done during Deeparadhana and third round of Athazha Sribeli Procession (The Sribeli ordinarily is called ‘Siveli’ by local people). A rod of about five feet, covered in pure silver and fixed with a Rushabha on the top is carried by an old Brahmin who facing the Lord recites the slokas of the Lord holding the rod and closing his eyes with much respect and devotion. It is the essence of the recital of ghattium. It was started by Ayilyam thirunal Maharaja of Travancore on 27th Thulam of 1030 of the Malayalam era. It is a noble example of the benevolence and kindness of Vaikkathappan to his Devotee.
There was an old Brahmin who was devoted to Siva but poor with no one to look after him. One day while he was sitting for Prathal, a certain Brahmin came to him asking some place to sit for Prathal. The old Brahmin at once offered a seat for Him and exchanged pleasantries. He told his grievances to the newcomer. The new Brahmin told him that he knew the Maharaja well and asked him to go to Trivandrum and he promised to do the rest. No one saw him afterwards. The old Brahmin went to Trivandrum without any hope. The Ayilyam thirunal Maharaja was surprised to receive the old Brahmin from Vaikom and explained him about his dream the day before. In that dream Vaikkathappan told the Maharaja, “There is no recital of Ghattium in my Temple. You must receive the respected old Brahmin who comes from Vaikom tomorrow and grant him a silver rod fixed with Rushabha Vahana and send him back to my Temple entrusting him to do the recital of ghattium”. On the same day the Maharaja got a rod as asked by Vaikkathappan the Lord and brought it to the Temple himself. The Maharaja himself gave the Silver rod to the above Brahmin in the presence of Vaikkathappan and entrusted him to recite the ghattium every day. The Maharaja also fixed a monthly stipend for the old Brahmin from the Devaswom and returned. This recital is in force even today.
Places To See Near Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple:
Chottanikkara Bhagavathi Temple
Udayanapuram Subrahmanya Temple
Ettumanur Siva Temple
Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple
Vaikom Sree Mahadeva Temple Address:
Vaikom Shiva Temple,
Travancore Devaswom Board,
Kottayam – 686141,
Phone: 04829 215 812