The important religious destinations- Kerala- Part I
Kerala is known as God's own country. There are many religious destinations. Pilgrimages are made to many temples, churches and mosques each year by devotees from all over the world.
- 1. Guruvayur
- 2. Sabarimala
- 3. Malayattoor hill
- 4. Chottanikkara
- 5. Thalangana
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Guruvayur is world famous for the SriKrishna temple. The main deity is Lord Krishna. The ‘prathishta’ is believed to have been done by Guru (Jupiter) and Vayu (Wind). Hindus all over the world long to visit this temple at least once in a lifetime. The temple is half an hour’s drive from Thrissur district in Kerala. People believe that lord Guruvayurappan as Krishna is referred to here dissolves miseries.
Functions like first feeding of child known as choroonu and marriages are held here. The Chembai sangeetholsavam is a musical program conducted every year. Special poojas include 'udayasthamana pooja' and 'thulabharam'. Elephants are a part of the temple rites and they are very well looked after in the Punnathur kotta which is an elephant sanctuary. Lord Shiva and Parvathy Devi are worshipped in the nearby famous temple at Mammiyur.
Sabarimala is the abode of Lord Ayyappa. He is the divine son of Mohini (Vishnu) and Lord Shiva. He was adopted by the Raja of Pandalam but later chose to be a brahmachari and live in Sabarimala Sannidhanam after killing the demoness Mahishi. Lord Ayyappa’s temple has strict rules rearding entrance. Women who are aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed in the temple premises or inside. The temple is located on a hill range. So pilgrims have to climb hills without footwear and reach it.
Devotees undertake pilgrimage after undergoing 41 day vrath which means abstinence from sex, non vegetarian food, alcohol and cigarettes. Ayyappan as he is fondly called is a youth God who protects his devotees. The mandala kalam from November to January is the time when the temple opens without time limit. He gives darshan at the time of makara vilakku by appearing as makara jyoti in the sky for three times. Devotees reach Pampa which is the base before the climb. Pampa can be reached through road routes( Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Perumbavur, Kollam). People who visit Ayyappa temple first visit his dear Muslim friend Vavar’s mosque. The pilgrimage is regarded as very holy and the vrath or abstinence is considered healthy for men.
3. Malayattoor hill
The Malayattoor church of St.Thomas is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage destinations in Kerala. It is belivd that St.Thomas (disciple of Lord Jesus Christ) climbed a hill and prayed near a rock. Tribal people attacked him and the rock started bleeding. A golden cross emanated out of the rock. St.Thomas is worshipped in the church which was later built around the rock. Devotees climb the Malayattoor hill with a cross on their shoulders as an offering to God before Easter. They undertake the pain to remember the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ. This church is located in Malayattoor near Kalady in Kerala.
Chottanikkara is famous for the devi temple. All three forms of the Devi-Durga, Lakshmy and Saraswati are present in the idol or vigraham. Saraswati is present in the morning according to the boon given to AdiShankaracharya by the goddess herself. The temple is located in the outskirts of Kochi city and is easily reachable. The makam thozhil utsavam or festival is famous because unmarried girls who have darshan of the temple deity get married soon.
The Malik Dinar Mosque in Kasargod, Kerala is famous because it was built by Malik Ibn Dinar who was the disciple of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Malik spread the message of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Urs festival is conducted yearly to celebrate the arrival Malik Dinar in Kerala. Devotees from all over India arrive here to join the festivities.
Image source: Wikimedia commons
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