The holy spot was earlier believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Their shrine is now in Mammiyur. Guruvayur is known as "Bhooloka Vaikuntha" where the Lord reveals Himself to His devotees in the same majestic form in which He welcomes them in Vaikuntha, His celestial abode.
Legends of Guruvayur Temple
The glory of Guruvayur was revealed by the Sage Dattatreya to Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit who became a victim of leprosy following a sarpa yajna or snake sacrifice which was performed to avenge his father's death brought' about by the deadly Takshaka, Naga chieftain. Janamejaya obtained no relief from medicines. Ultimately He was advised by sage Dattatreya to worship the image of Sri Krishna at Guruvayur. Janamejaya did so with single-minded devotion and penance for four months. And cured he was of the festering and disfiguring sores of the body.
According to Sage Dattatreya, the image at Guruvayur was originally worshipped by Brahma. Lord Brahma had gifted it to Vishnu. Lord Krishna, as the incarnation of Vishnu, brought the idol also along with him to Dwaraka. When the time came for His swargarohanam or ascent to Heaven, the Lord asked his foremost disciple and devotee, Uddhava to retrieve the idol from the impending submergence of Dwarka in the sea and install it at a spot equally holy so that He could shower His blessings on His devotees and save them from the evil effects of Kali Yuga.
Uddhava entrusted the job to Guru, the preceptor of the Gods, and Vayu, the god of winds. They took possession of the idol and moved in search of a proper place. Ultimately they decided to install it near a lake full of lotuses, on one side of which there were Shiva and Parvati. That is Guruvayur, the place has derived its name from Guru and Vayu who jointly installed the vigraha.
Guruvayur Temple-Dwarka of the South
< The glory of Guruvayur-the place has also come to be justly known as the Dwarka of the South-thus rests on the divinity of the idol installed there which represents the full manifestation of the Lord Mahavishnu as was revealed to Vasudeva and Devaki at the time of Krishnavatara; it is that attractive, world-enchanting form of Sri Krishna endowed with the four lustrous arms carrying the conch, the discus., the mace and the lotus.
Adorning Himself with the divine tulasi garland and pearl necklace, the Lord here appears in all radiance. His eyes stream forth the milk of compassion and kindness. To millions, Guruvayurappan or the Lord of Guruvayur is a living deity who answers their prayers. He is Sri Krishna, the divine cowherd who played his flute in Gokulam and Vrindvana and enchanted the whole world with his music. It is not only the gopis or milkmaids who earn oneness with Him, but all men and women who wish to be liberated from samsara.
Narayaniyam-the Gospel of Guruvayur
The Narayaniyam, which may be described as the Gospel of Guruvayur and which identifies Guru-vayurappan with Mahavishnu, the central figure of the Bhagavata, is the greatest of these mahatmyas, creating a Guruvayur in the heart of everyone who reads or listens to it. To hundreds of thousands of devotees who come here on pilgrimage all round the year the very name Narayaniyam is a source of spiritual sustenance.
Offerings of Guruvayur Temple
There are countless incidents like these which should lift the hearts of the sick, the depressed and the helpless. Indeed devotees come in thousands to Guruvayur. The favours they seek of the Lord are different-cure of bodily ills, mental peace, and progeny, success in vocations and examinations and, above all, salvation. They stay for a day or two and worship. There are those who go to Guruvayur for Tinkal or monthly bhajan or the 41-day bhajan in fulfilment of a vow or just to propitiate the Lord. Their offerings too vary from a small archana (offering of flowers) costing a few paise to the elaborate udayastamana pooja (literally from dawn to dusk) consisting of 21 special poojas and costing about Rs. 10,000.
One of the most popular offerings is Thulabharam-a ceremony in which the devotee is weighed against bananas, sugar, jaggery, coconuts etc., and the article weighed being gifted to the temple. Then Annaprasanam, first feeding ceremony of the child and marriages are conducted here on a mass scale.
Rites of Guruvayur Temple
Peculiar to Guruvayur is the elaborate system of rites established by Adi Shankara. The sanctum opens at three in the morning and closes at nine in the night. Except between 1 and 4 P.M. when it is closed, a series of poojas, rites and processions are conducted. The darshan at three in the morning is especially auspicious. It is called nirmalya darshan, the Lord still adorned with the flowers and garlands of the previous day and thousands flock to the temple at this early hour chanting 'Narayana,' "Narayana.
Festivals of Guruvayur Temple
Ekadasi festival during the months of November and December is celebrated as Chembai Sangeet Mela in honour of Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. He was a doyen of Carnatic music and an ardent devotee of Sri Guruvayurappan. Ashtami-Rohini is another important festival held for 10 days during February-March.