Mannarasala Temple is devoted to serpent worship. It is located near Haripad, 32 km south of Alappuzha,14km from kayamkulam,115 km from Cochin International Airport and 125 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, Kerala.
Serpent worship is part of the Hindu religious practices and Kerala is a place where one would come across temples dedicated to serpent gods. Serpent worship is practised in several ancestral homes, which have special worship places called Kaavu (serpent grove).
In this temple, the rites are presided over by a priestess. The temple covers an area of 16 acres of dense green forest grove. The two main idols are Nagaraja or the serpent king and his consort, Sarpayakshini. The most popular offering of this temple is ‘Uruli Kamazhthal’, the placing of a bell metal vessel upside down in front of the deity, which is believed to restore fertility to childless couples.
Though the legends related to the origin of a place cannot be deemed as its history, the story on the evolution of Mannarasala as the supreme place of worship of the serpent Gods is associated with Parasurama, the creator of Kerala. The history of Mannarasala has been mentioned in the ‘Mandara Salodayam‘ Sanskrit poem written by Mannarasala M.G.Narayanan Nampoodiri of the sacred family, who wrote it on the basis of reliable accounts and legends traditionally handed down and in the light of old books available with the temple. Since the poem was incomplete, the history narrated here is from the book ‘The Serpent Temple Mannarasala’, published by Mr.N.Jayadevan of Manasa Publications (Translated to English by the renowned scholar Dr.Ayyappa Panikker). This book is also based on the advice and instructions received from the former Great Mother, and in accordance with the other members of the family as well as the old records examined for the purpose.
|Location:||Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple, Mannarasala P.O, Haripad, Alappuzha, Kerala, India.|
|Gods||Nagaraja, Naga Yakshi|
|Landmark||The temple is located about three kilometers to the south-east of the bus station in N.H.47 at Haripad, in Alleppey district of Kerala. Proper signboards are available from the N.H.47 to the temple. Since the temple is very renowned, accessibility to the temple may not be a problem for the devotees. Various cabs and auto rickshaws are available near the Haripad bus station and Railway station to reach Mannarassala at nominal fare. Since located near the highway almost equidistant between the cities of Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (approx.113 kms and 103 kms respectively), it is easy to reach Haripad via bus and train. Nearest Airports are Thiruvananthapuram International Airport - Distance 121 kms. and Nedumbassery International Airport - Distance - 132 kms.|
The Ayilyam day in Tulam, Kanni and Kumbham months in the Malayalam calendar and the Mahasivarathri are celebrated here with great pomp. The Ayilyam in Kanni is the birthday of Nagaraja and that in Kumbham is the birthday of Anantha, the Muthassan of Nilavara (cellar).
Ayilyam of Thulam
The most celebrated festival at Mannarassala is the Ayilyam of Thulam. In the beginning, the Ayilyam of Thulam had no speciality or importance. It was a regular custom for the Maharaja of Travancore to visit this temple on Ayilyam day in Kanni. On one occasion, the Maharaja could not reach the temple as usual and had to postpone the visit to the Ayilyam day in Thulam. The royal palace met all the expenses for the celebrations of that Ayilyam. Several landed properties were given away to the temple free of land tax in order to make the festival more attractive, as an expression of repentance. Thus the Ayilyam of Thulam came to secure a royal splendor and official glamour without difficulty. The Ayilyam days of Kanni and Kumbham are still celebrated with befitting grandeur.
Sivarathri, the day of the great festival in Siva temples, is given unusual importance in this temple of Nagaraja. Celebrations are also held accordingly though this is not very widely known even today. The installation of the Nagaraja is in accordance with the concept of Siva. The poojas also are on the Saivite model. Thus Sivaratri assumed special importance among the annual festivities.
Annual pooja in Nilavara
Only once a year Nurum Palum is offered and performed in the cellar (Nilavara): that is on the day next to Sivaratri. On the fifth day after Sivaratri, the Mother comes to the Illam after the daily pooja in the temple, and opens the cellar. The prasadam of the Nurum Palum is distributed among the members of the family by the Mother. After the pooja in Nilavara, Nurum Palum and other poojas are performed in Appooppan Kavu ( Grandfather's Grove), which is the abode of "Muthassan".
Only for Sivarathri is the evening ceremony for lights held in this temple. After the meal, there is no Pooja in the sanctum sanctorum. It may be that Sivarathri was chosen for the ceremony of lights because fasting is compulsory on that particular day. All Poojas including the 'Athazhapuja (evening worship) are performed on that day. The main items of that day are Sarpabali and Ezhunnallethu (procession).
The 'Uruli Kamazhthal' offering with devotion and prayers, has helped numerous devotees to have children, who come to this temple.