Aratupuzha Shasta Temple
Aratupuzha Shastakshetra is a temple of Shasta located in the agricultural village of Aratupuzha, about 15 km south of Thrissur town. The name Aratupuzha is derived from the name Aratupuzha for the temple and the place as it is a temple on the banks of a river where the Aaratu* ( Main diety’s entry during the festivals) of many goddesses take place. Manalipuzha and Kurumalipuzha meet at Palakkadav and flow as the Karuvannur river. The Karuvannur River is the first to reach Aratupuzha. In ancient times, the Karuvannur River was known as Uthranadi and Karuman Rivers. It is a famous temple among the 108 Shasta temples. Ayyappan Thiyat Thotam song about 108 Shastakshetras is mentioned as Arattupuzha Kavu.
Karuvannur river flows next to the temple. The Araatt of the goddesses and Thevar*(In a way to call God using local language) who come to the Aratupuzha Pooram take place at the Mandaram pier in the Karuvannur river. History has it that in ancient times 108 gods and goddesses participated in Pooram and Aaratu held in Aratupuzha. Today it has been reduced to 23 temples. It has been said that Shasta is the deity. Aratupuzha Shasta is believed to be Vasishta Maharishi as Vasishta is believed to contain the spirit. All Shastakshetras basically have a Maharshi Sankalpa. It’s just that many things are not known today. It is one of the rare temples without sub-deities. Three pujas. Tantra Kunnathur West Mana. The Uoralans are 5 Mana’s namely Madamp Mana, Chitissery Kaplinghat Mana, Chorinchedath Mana, Karolil Elamann Mana and Ootur Mekat Mana.
Today it is under the Cochin Devaswom Board. The Shasta deity is in the Gajaprishtha-shaped shrine facing west. The idol has the form of a sage sitting in meditation. Thitamp is standing wearing a bow and arrow. There is a prayer hall in front of the shrine. It is in this mandapam that the gods and goddesses arriving for the Puram are brought down and taken up. The temple has a fairly large enclosure. On the northeast side, there is a Koovalathara with the presence of Yogishwara. The temple is surrounded by an elephant wall and a two-storied temple tower on the western side. There is a wide walkway on the west side. Outside the temple Gopuram you can see a floor called Villunnithara. Apart from this, the floor where the Shastav stands for Pooram can also be seen here. The place where the temple stood in the past was the abode of the sorcerers, Kurans and Malayans. It is said that all of them were killed by the upper classmen.
There is an oral history that after the killing of Ayyan Chirukandan, the king of Pulaya, his daughter, and minister, the nobles expelled all the grandchildren from there. Natupazhama means that the stopped Peruvanam festival was restarted as Aratupuzha Pooram as an atonement and Thriprayar Thevar was brought to Aratupuzha. However, there are many historical mysteries surrounding this temple. In ancient times, Aratupuzha was the place where the Peruvanam festival took place. It was this Aratupuzha Pooram that later became Aratupuzha Pooram. It is also said that Aratupuzha Pooram was organized by Shankaracharya. Historians are of the opinion that Lord Vishnu was raised from Tripakshetra to Aratupuzha by Cheraperumal Kulasekhara Azhwar, who adopted the Vaishnava path.
The annual festivals of the temple are Pratishtha Day, Pathamudayam, 41 days of Mandalakalam, Desavilak, Pooram, etc. in Mithuna month. On the 10th day of the festival, Pallissery is greeted with Rudraksha garland, lights the wick, and returns by throwing rice. There is an elephant procession on the day of the dedication.
The most important annual event of Aratupuzha Shasta Temple is Peruvanam – Aratupuzha Pooram in the month of Pisces. Aratupuzha Shasta was one of the main climbers on the Peruvanam route. Today is seen as the descent. That was later. Aratupuzha Shastava is the only Pandi Mela on the Peruvanam road.
In the evening accompanied by locals, the courgettes are cut, carved, and tied alternately with Alila and Mavila. Then, after tying the flag and the bell at the top, the flag pole is raised so that the flag part faces the north side. Then the temple Ooralars tie Darbha leavs to the flagpole. An elephant is lifted up and the EzhuKandam*(paddy field) goes in silence without any musical accompaniment. There Triputa Koti comes back after calling the conch shell 6 times. When the fair ends at the temple entrance, two coconuts are set near the big altar stone in the presence of Madambi lamp, Nirapara and Vellari. Then Urgama Marar turned to the east and asked Shastava, ‘Haven’t the people of the temple got up in the front porch?’ Always asking three times each. Then he turned to the west and asked, ‘Haven’t all the worshipers reached the gopuram for the departure of Aratupuzha Shastava?’ Always asking three times. Turning to the east again, ‘Aratupuzha Shastava’s Puram should be taken for departure?’ And after that, he turns to the west and asks the same thing once more. Conch is sounded three times and Pooram flag is placed on the right head. Outside the wall, near the altar, a ceremony called Tiruvayudha Samarpanam takes place. Later, every time Shasta gets up, Thiruvayudham will accompany him. During this time Navakam and Sribhutabali ceremonies are held in the temple.
Aratupuzha Shasta’s departure from Pooram is on Thiruvathira day. Wake up at 3 am. With the permission of the temple Tantri, Thimila Pani Kotti Titamp is raised. Pulling out the chempada koti. Kolam is mounted on an elephant and goes to the north. After the copper festival is over there, is an elaborate lamp ceremony. Panchari Melam accompanied by 5 elephants till 7 pm after Keli, Kushal Pat, and Komp Pat spread on the East Walk. If the fair ends on the west side of the road, there is an occasional circumambulation.
After lighting the Tiruvathira lamp, the Aratupuzha Shasta is taken out of the temple wall with Panchari mela by blowing the conch shell 3 times at around 8 am. After the fair ends near Althara, the journey begins with Nagaswaram, Shankh and Shruti of Valanthala to Thaikatussery Bhagavathiketra. Shasta is brought down and lifted up in the Thaikattussery temple mandapam. After the Pooram of Thaikattussery Bhagavathy begins the ‘Idavahipooram’ of Aratupuzha Shasta. After the tour of Thaikattussery temple, say upacharam with Thaikattussery Bhagavathy. On the way back, drop the Chathakkudam at the Shasta temple and pick it up. Chathakkudam returns to Aratupuzha after saying favor to Shasta. People welcome Aratupuzha Shasta by lighting candles, burning camphor on all the roads.
After the daily pooja and tantric ceremonies, leave the temple at 8 pm and perform puja at Manakkal in the west of Peruvanam Kunnathur, where there is no tantri. After the descent, the panikoti is raised to Narukulangara. Kottipradakshina of the Narukulangara temple is done to ensure that the Arattuchadans at Narukulangara are held without any problems. Then in the silence of the night we return to Aratupuzha.
The famous Peruvanam Pooram. By 4 pm, Valiyapani Kotti wakes up Shasta. The Panchari Melam starts in the third season and goes out. He calls the conch shell 3 times and starts the journey to Peruvan by placing it in Valantala. Conch sounds at Kaitavalapp, Pallissery Center, and Thevar Road Junction during the accompanied journey of Nagaswaram. The chanting starts from the old Urakam alley. The fair ends at the northeast corner of the Urakam temple and again the journey continues to Peruvana accompanied by Nagaswaram. At around 6 pm Peruvanam enters the walled temple through the south tower of the Mahadeva temple. Pandi Mela starts inside the wall with the accompaniment of 7 elephants. Once inside the temple wall for a while, Kotiya comes out on the eastern side of the road. The fair continues facing east on the walkway. The Aratupuzha Shastavin Puram coming down the walkway ends around 9:30 PM. Then Tripuda Kotti reaches near Thodukulam in the east. After passing the Puram of Chathakkudam Shasta, Aratupuzha Shasta, Kalleli Shasta and Medamkulangara Shasta join the path. Panchari Melam up to East Nata. Once inside the temple walls, the room is full of fair. The fair ends at the same place where the Pooram of Aratupuzha Shasta began at dusk. After that, Aratupuzha Shastav descends to Mana in the west where there is no Tantri*(A person who is the supreme authority of a temple) and goes to worship.
The next morning after Peruvanam Pooram, Aratupuzha Shastav Tantri reaches Peruvanam temple from Illat. Cherap Bhagat will be held at the Peruvanam temple. After that, he returns to the temple. At 4:00 pm leaves to receive the leaves at Chorinchedat Mana, Karolil Elamann Mana and Chulli Matam. Returning, after ShankhVili, Keli, Sandhya vela and Athaazha Pooja ,(These are temple rituals) at 6 o’clock the Tharakkal Pooram is raised with the accompaniment of chempada. Ektalam inside the temple wall. Then, escorted by 9 elephants, bowing down near the floor with Panchari Mela (A special type of musical instrument playing). Fireworks after massing. Tharakkal Pooram has Ezhunnalips of Thottipal Bhagavathy and Urakathammathiruvadi. After Pooram, Aratupuzha Shasta, Thottipal Bhagavathy to the west and Urakathammathiruvadi to the east stand as darshan. After mats and stalks are spread and Chengila is placed, the rice is deposited. Urakam, Thottipal and Aratupuzha temples will call the conch shells 3 times each. This is called hunger conch. All three groups hold a fair in Valantala. The concept behind this ceremony is that Urakathammathiruvadi is being journeyed to invite Kashi Viswanathan, Goddess Ganga and Kamakshi of Kanchipuram to Aratupuzha Pooram. Thotipal Bhagavathy offered Upachara to Aratupuzha Shasta and Urakathammathiruvadi while going to the Shastamkadam in Karuvannur river. Aratupuzha Shasta leaves for Madamp Mana to preach. After saying the prayer, he comes back to the temple, and at 12 o’clock in the night, he leaves with the accompaniment of Nagaswaram, Shankh Nadath, and Valantalashruti.
Arattupuzha Shastav, who gets up from Panikotti Kadalassery Pisharikal Bhagavathiketra in the morning, goes to Thottipal Bhagavathiketra. In the early days, there was an elephant race at the Thottipal temple. Those who arrived first in the round of the pool were given an Avilpara* as a gift. As there is no space now, every year one of the temples accepts Avil Para. After the Pooram of Thottipal Bhagavathy, the ‘Idavahi Pooram’ of Aratupuzha Shasta begins with Chathakkudam Shasta. After that, perform puja at Thottipal temple. After that, Thottipal takes a favor to Bhagwati and returns to Aratupuzha along with Chathakkudam Shasta. Reach Aratupuzha around 4 pm. Chathakkudam Shasta was brought down to the Aratupuzha temple. Then Chathakkudam Shasta and Aratupuzha Shasta are said Upacharam*( A temple ritual).
This ceremony is seen as Chattakkudam Shasta giving permission to Aratupuzha Shasta to start Pooram. After dinner pooja, Keli and Valiya pani, Chempada Kotti Shasta is raised for Aratupuzha Pooram at around 6 pm. Circling with single beat. Then the panchari fair accompanied by 15 elephants went outside the gopuram. The three-and-a-half-hour-long Panchari fair ends with fireworks in the field. Then Muri Atanta Kotti accompanied by 7 elephants goes up to the Seven Kandams. Aratupuzha Shasta in Vasishtha Maharshi Sankalpa goes to Ezhukandam to see if his disciple Triprayar Thevar in Sri Rama Sankalpa has reached Kaitavalap. After blowing the trumpet, blowing the horn, and calling the conch shell three times, the host Aratupuzha Shastav, who came back with a walking pandi, came to the floor and stood. After the Pooram of Chathakkudam Shasta, Edakunny Bhagwati stands as a witness and handing over the responsibility of standing the stand to Chathakkudam Shasta, Aratupuzha Shasta lifts the stand from the floor to the temple. Starvation Shakh calls out during the exchange of stances.
In the morning Triprayar Thevar departs from the Aratupuzha Shastav temple. After arriving at the Puram, the deities circumambulate the Aratupuzha temple and offer upacharam to the Aratupuzha Shasta who is standing on an elephant. The Aratupuzha Shasta sends them off one by one with auspicious words. Aratupuzha Shasta accompanies up to Ezhukandam when offering upacharam to Cherpa Bhagavathy, Urakathammathiruvadi, and Thriprayar Thevar. At the very end, the astrologer of Arattupuzha Shastava announces the date of next year’s Pooram after following Triprayar Thevara Ezhukandam. After that, the Aratupuzha Pooram concludes with the Shasta turning around and ascending to the temple.
Aratupuzha Shasta gets up in the evening to perform Gramabali for the salvation of the village. After the Sreebhutabali in the evening, before the temple keeper sweeps, a big Pani*(a temple equipment) playing and Shasta*(a deity) is placed on a castor board in the door niche. There will be madambi lamp, para and coconut. With the permission of the tantri for the village sacrifice, the Shastav starts at around 9 pm. At Villunnithara, the Nalathirudi of the village Kotamkulangara, Mampilly, Urakam, Kitaikulangara, Ayinikad via pada, Muthuliyal via Cherp, Thayamkulangara, Mekav, Peruvanam, Thiruvullakkav, Vallachira, Chathakkudam, Pattaparamba, Kadalassery Pisharikal, Thotipal, and Mulingathoopuzha. The village sacrifice is concluded by offering sacrifices to the temple guardian. People welcome Aratupuzha Shasta by drawing kolams, lighting lamps, and displaying cucumbers, coconuts, torans and garlands on all the roads leading to Ezhunnallip.
On returning to the temple in the morning after the village sacrifice, Shasta is lifted into the shrine. After this, the Puram ceremony of Aratupuzha Shasta comes to an end with the elephant stabbing the flagpole. It is 5 km from Aratupuzha to Peruvanam.