Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple has Goddess Shakti as the principal deity. Thousands of people visit the temple every day. It is 15 km from Ernakulam South railway station. We went past Champakara Canal and later Hill Palace in Tripunithura.
There are many shops selling pooja materials on the street leading to the temple. We expected big crowds. But Makaravilakku in Sabarimala was over and the crowds of Ayyappans had thinned.
Three Different Forms of Bhagavathy
There are two temples in the temple complex. The first one is a Rajarajeshwari temple. The deity in the Rajarajeshwari temple is unique in that she is worshipped differently according to the time of day. Devi takes on three different forms at the temple. In the morning, she appears in the form of Saraswati, draped in in white. At noon, her appearance is that of Lakshmi, dressed in crimson. By evening, she is Durga and attired in blue. Believers say that Bhagavathy has the powers to cure mental illnesses.
The second temple is at a lower level and is the Keezhekavu. This is a Bhadra Kali temple and depicts the savage or Ugra form of Devi. The Keezhekavu temple is to the east of the temple pond. The deity here faces westward and was installed by Villwamangalam Swamiyaar. The worship at this temple takes place after the evening pooja at the main temple. This Pooja is called the Valiya Kuruthy or the great sacrifice. This is a Pooja that is said to cure those suffering from mental illness or possession. There are also temples of Ganapathy, Shiva and Nagas in the temple complex..
History of the Temple
According to legends, a tribal hunter named Kannappan lived in a jungle. He was a great devotee of Goddess Parvathy and used to sacrifice an animal every day. He had a little daughter who had a cow as her pet. One day Kannappan was not able to get an animal for sacrifice. He demanded his daughter’s cow for that day’s sacrifice. She was aghast and asked her father to sacrifice her instead. Kannappan then realised that he was wrong in doing animal sacrifices.
He and the pet cow stayed near the temple’s Bali stone the whole night. In the morning, the cow had strangely turned in to a stone. That place is Pavizhamalli thara. Devotees believe that the pet cow was Goddess Mahalakshmi. That day Lord Vishnu appeared before Kannappan. He forgave Kannappan and decided to be present in the temple along with the Goddess. That is the notion of Lakshmi Narayana in the temple.
One of the major events in the temple is the Makam Thozhal. It falls on Makam asterism in the Malayalam month of Kumbham. In 2019, the auspicious day was on 20 February. A large number of women visited the temple on that day.
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