Origin of Bharata Temple
As far as the origin of the temple of Bharata is concerned it can be said that according to legend, a local chieftain, Vakkey Kaimal had a dream one night in which some mysterious persons appeared before him and told him that four idols had been washed ashore in the nearby sea and each of them was to be consecrated at the allotted places. The Kaimal, an ardent devotee of the Lord, hastened to the seashore early in the morning and found the idols lying there.
The idols were that of Lord Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Satrughna. They were duly installed in four temples as directed in the dream: Rama at Triprayar, Bharata at Kutalmanikyam (Irinjalakuda), Lakshmana at Moozhikulam and Satrughna at Payammel. All the four idols are images of Vishnu though they are imagined and worshipped by different names.
Long before the installation of Bharata, the place had something divinely unique about it. The entire area was a dense forest inhabited by a community of rishis headed by Kulipini Maharshi. They were engaged in incessant yagas to please Mahavishnu. The Lord, pleased by their penance and devotion, appeared before them and desired to know their wish. All they wanted was His presence at the place. The Bhagawan readily agreed.
The place was probably not inhabited for several hundred years. And when people came to live here the divine chaitanya materialised in the form of Bharata has said the legend.
Architecture of Bharate Temple
In inner part of the temple on either side of the walls there are beautiful murals. As one turns to the left there is the well-known kuttambalam. The entire northern side is covered by the temple tank Kulipini tirtham. The srikoil is circular in shape with copper-plated roof and a golden tazhikakudam at the pinnacle. The wood carvings and granite friezes on the outer walls are of high artistic excellence. It is a majestic Vishnu image with four arms the loft upper holds the discus, the left lower, the conch, the right upper hand has a garuda and lower one, a japa mala, rosary.
Worship of Temple Deity
There are certain distinctive features about Kutal-manikyam temple. Firstly, as already mentioned, there is a single pratishta here, that of Bharata, there being no other upadevatas. Secondly, the flower offerings consist of only lotuses, tulasi and no other flowers are used for worship. Third, the temple-tank-Kulipini tirtham-contains plenty of fish which are held sacred, but no such, creatures like water-snakes, frogs, etc., commonly found in most tanks. The water is said to have curative properties.
Lastly, there are only three pujas conducted here daily against the five normally performed in all great temples. These are the Etirthu puja, Uccha (noon) puja and Athazha (night) puja, the omission being Usha (early morning) puja, and Panthirati which follows Etirthu puja. And there is no siveli or procession daily; the deity being taken out in ceremonial procession only during the annual festival.
Administration of Bharata Temple
The administration of the temple traditionally vested jointly in the Maharajas of Travancore and Cochin and a representative of the local community. It was the Maharaja of Travancore who held supremacy in the set up though the temple was situated in Cochin State. The representative of the Maharaja of Travancore, Tachudaya Kaimal, was the chief executive of the temple administration. With the abolition of the princely order, the Government of Kerala appointed a new Managing Committee with the Tachudaya Kaimal as Chairman to look after the day-to-day administration of the temple.
Festivals of Bharata Temple
Triputtiri on the Thiruvonam day in the month of Thulam (October-November) is an important occasion when the newly-harvested rice is cooked and first offered to the Lord. Then a great feast follows. The next day there is a special offering called Mukkidi which is considered a miraculous cure for all stomach / ailments. Mukkidi is an Ayurvedic mixture the formula of which is known only to the Kuttancheri Moose, one of the families of ashta vaidyas.
The annual festival of the temple is held for 11 days from Uthram to Thiruvonam asterisms in Medom (April-May), the flag-hoisting ceremony being conducted on the Uthram day. The utsavam offers a pageant of colour, music, fine arts and elephant procession to the thousands who throng to witness the event.
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