Kanichukulangara Devi Temple in AlappuzhaKanichukulangara Devi Temple in Alappuzha is dedicated to the Mother Goddess. It is an ancient temple of Kerala and it is among those very few temples that enjoy a free and open management. The temple has been open to all irrespective of their caste, religious or socio-economic affiliations. In fact this temple has the unique distinction of being one rare edifice that had a Christian on its governing body and a non-Nambooth in the household as having its ownership. Nestled against the verdant background of the natural beauty of Alappuzha this temple lies at the edge of the sea and has a holy pond adjoining it.
Stories and Legends associated with the TempleAccording to mythological stories the beautiful Goddess of beauty, fertility and prosperity was enjoying a somnolent boat ride when suddenly she was washed ashore in a shipwreck. Ever since then the deity has been installed at the spot. Nearby is a pond where the remnants of the ship can be seen at the edge of the pond. This pond has also been attributed with magical powers. In fact at this temple worship is performed as Arrattu for both, the deity as well as the pond.
Some renovation and cleaning up had been done at the pond. The material and artifacts that turned up were found to be of very ancient origin. There is another story linked with the beginnings of this temple. It is said that there were two brothers who had ownership of the temple and its surrounding lands.
This came to pass after a historical event. When Tipu Sultan had attacked Malabar the resident Hindus tended to spread south wards. They tended to settle around the interiors which was under the Vendad. There the Hindus carried their ruling duties. Those who came by sea were shipwrecked on the shores near Alappuzha. They installed their deity of the Devi and began working on the lands around. Thus, this reputed temple had come up with the efforts of those people who had come to settle there in the period from 1773 to 1790.
Then it came to pass that two Nimboodari brothers inherited the temple, its responsibility of management as also the ownership of lands all around. The older brother fell in love with a commoner or ‘ezhava’ girl who was very beautiful. The lady ended up being pregnant. When this fact came to light the elder brother was ostracized. He left Kanichukulangara after willing the entire property to the lady. Seeing this the younger brother committed suicide in the pond nearby. The lady died in childbirth as did the child. Thus, the entire property was inherited by the ezhava family who took over the management of the temple.
This is the reason why this temple has been open and lenient by allowing all castes and creeds to visit the temple. The Padu Kanichukulangara family subsequently got the inheritance of the temple which was considered a major step. Till date the descendants of this temple have been continuously informed of all major events in the year. No festival is complete without this family being formally informed of the event, first and foremost.
In 1908, a Christian opinion leader, Acho John helped the people to take over the management of the temple by forming an Executive Body comprising seven members. After having a tenure of one year the Committee increased it to three years in 1964.
Festivals at Kanichukulangara Devi TempleThis temple is renowned for the sacred ‘Mura oath’ which is taken ceremonially every twelve years. The entire programme goes on for a full forty one days. A number of rituals are performed on these days to purify the premises. Even the priests are served ‘homam’ or purificatiory. In some cases one of the rituals tends to become rather violent and crude. Many of the members of the General Body sought to abolish this ritual of ‘Velapadayami’ in 1975. In its place the ‘Arrattu-Utsavam’ began to be performed. Other social welfare activities that were taken up by the committee included the setting up of an English medium school.
The major festivals of the temple last for twenty one days and is called the Maha festival which is initiated in the ‘Kumbam’ month according to the Malayalam Calendar. The special part of the festivities is the ‘Kumba Kudam’ and ‘Thalpoli. The former entails offerings of oil, ghee, honey, turmeric powder and Kumkum. The ‘thalapoli’ comprises a decorative tray having colourful offerings which are offered at ten at night amidst the chanting of hymns and singing several rustic, ritual songs.
There is a special occasion whereby on the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth day of the festival ‘rangolis’ or colourful patterns are made. Ladies from all round the areas gather and perform rituals to appease the snake god in the form of Sarp or divine snake images. They sing a ‘Pulavar pattu’. Then on the fortieth day the deity is anointed, dressed in new clothes and jewellery to attend the ritual ceremony that lasts for about five days. These special rituals are focused on pleasing the Shastravahu.
These twenty one days are significant for women going to have children or desirous of having children because this is the site where all are blessed with children and prosperity. Another ritual is the ‘Arikuthuvazhi Padu’ that gives immunity from disease. The ‘Maha Kuruthu’ is the closing ceremony of this great twenty one day rituals rich festival.
How to Reach Kanichukulangara Devi TempleThe temple can be approached by road, train, water and by air.
There is an international airport at Cochin which is the nearest. From there a bus or taxi can be taken to reach Alapuzzha.
The trains directly reach Alappuzha from Thiruvanthapuran and Ernakulam from where again the taxi or auto rickshaws can take the pilgrims to the temple.
By Bus there are very economical and efficient services available from all the major cities like Cochin, Kozhikode, Thrivanthapuran, Chennai, Bagalore to Alappuzha. The cost of the most expensive or longest journey is less than a thousand rupees.
The water ways are also used to ferry pilgrims to the temple shores. These ferries are also state owned and take the passenger to either bank at a normal charge.