According to the legends, the temple was installed by Ramanujacharya, the founder of Vishishtadvaita philosophy, and later an idol of Goddess Bhadrakali was also installed. But due to the invasion of Tipu Sultan, the idol of the Lord was destroyed and no one knew whose idol it was until 1973, when a Devaprasna was held in the temple to know the real nature of the deity. Later, in 1977, a new idol was made and taken to the temple. Now both the Lord and the Goddess have equal importance. The Lord faces east, while the Goddess is installed in the Valiyambalam at the south-east side, facing west. Lords Ganesh, Ayyappa, Goddess Saraswathi and Ramanujacharya are also installed.
As per astrological findings made by reputed astrologer, late Puduseri Vishnu Namboodiri, more than one thousand years ago, a sage from the Tirumala Temple came over to Guruvayur and wishing to establish a temple for his Lord Venkitachalapathi at Guruvayur where there is already a temple for Lord Sreekrishna, sat by the side of the present temple tank, prayed for and obtained permission of the Lord for such a temple at Guruvayur and then established this temple after bringing an idol from Tirupati.
This astrological finding is borne out by the simple fact that the locality where this temple is situated is known as Thiruvenkidom from time immemorial. The abode of Thiruvenkitachalapathy, is naturally Thiruvenkidom . It might be the wish of the great Lord that where he is already worshipped as Sreekrishna, he should be worshipped as Venkitachalapathy also. That must explain this extraordinary phenomenon of the three different manifestations at the same place, to perhaps make true.
It might be the wish of the great Lord that where he is already worshipped as Sreekrishna, he should be worshipped as Venkitachalapathy also. That must explain this extraordinary phenomenon of the three different manifestations at the same place, to perhaps make true. His declaration that "whoever worships me in which ever manner, I bless him in the same manner". There is no doubt, that in that distant past when communication and contact facilities wore totally lacking the sage could come from Tirumala and establish this temple at distant Guruvayur is entirely due to the Lord's will and blessings. This temple could very well be treated as established by the Lord himself, the sage being only an instrument in His hand.
But here also man's violent nature and maliciousness manifested. Enemies of the temple later mutilated the idol. The head and right hand of the idol were cut off and later generations didn't know whose idol it was. This continued till 1974 In 1974, some devotees arranged the devaprasna (astrological search) mentioned earlier and came to know the real nature of the deity. The devotees then went to Tirumala, arranged an idol from there, took it to all the temples in South India, finally brought to Thiruvenkidom and reinstallation was done in June 1977 in a grand ceremony by the Thanthri of the Guruvayur temple, Brahmasree Chennas Parameswaran Namboodiripad, and Periya Jeer Swami of Tirumala who is believed to be the successor of the founder sage of this temple. Thus the Lord in his divine grace manifested himself again at Thiruvenkidom. Now most of the devotees who come to Guruvayur have darsan of Lord Venkitachalapathy.
Another unique feature of this temple is that about six hundred years after the original installation of Lord venkitachalapathy an idol of Bhagavathy (Mother goddess) was also installed here. This Mother goddess through her benign nature and generous blessings soon began to be worshipped as the ruling mother of the entire population. There soon grew and emotional tie between the Mother and the devotees. She was the refuge and protector of all the devotees. No body returned empty handed from her Divine presence.
After the idol of Thiruvenkitachalapathy was mutilated it was the Mother's shrine which retained the tradition of this temple. The Mother continued to be worshipped during this cloudy period. This is explained by the fact that for the local people this is still the temple of the Thiruvenkidom Bhagavathy as the presence of Thiruvenkitachalapathy came to be known only in 1974, Now both Thiruvenkitachalapathy and Bhagavathy have equal importance. The main Sreekovil is of Thiruvenkitchalapathy. Bhagavathy's Srikovil is in the south East end of the valiambalam.
Makarachowwa is the most important festival of Bhagavathy. Falling on the first Tuesday of the Malayalam month of Makaram, (January) this festival has become the festival of the whole community. There is such an emotional approach to this festival. There will not be a single person in and around Guruvayur who does not visit the temple and pay homage to the Bhagavathy on that day. The festival is inaugurated ten days in advance by hoisting the flag and the collection of para (conventional offering of grains to the full measure by devotees to the Bhagavathy) by the Komaram, starts the next day. Komaram is a person supposed to be possessed by the power of the goddess and is in an ecstatic state and what ever he says and does is believed to be done by the goddess. For this purpose the Komaram visits every home to the accompaniment of drums etc. Besides the temple court yard will be filled with paras on the day of the festival, offered by devotees.
direct to the temple. The acceptance of these paras' by the Komaram at the end of the festival procession is a colorful ceremony charged with devotion. Procession with caparisoned elephants at noon and early morning and the final rites in the pattupanthal are the important features of the festival now laksharchana is also being conducted on this day. But the sense of intense devotion that one feels on darsan on this day accompanied by the "Aravanapayasam" which is the special prasadam is beyond words. It is to be experienced.
The annual Brahmoltsavam of Lord Thiruvenkitachalapathy is being celebrated in preceded by five days of Tantric rites and the six day on the Malayalam month of medom (April - May) with the flag hoisting done on the punarvasum star. Utsavam is being celebrated every year since the reinstallation in 1977. As per the custom followed in the Kerala temples, and as prescribed in the Thantra Sasthra a Naveekarana kalasam, comprising of Thantric rites, Including reinforcement of the installation of the idol and rejuvenation of the power of the deities was conducted in 2007. One thousand pots (Kalasam) filled with various liquids and charged with chaithanya (divine power) generated by the "manthras" chanted by the priests are poured over the idol to rejuvenate the power of the deity as part of the Naveekarana Kalasam.
During the usual annual festival Abishekam with 108 Kalasams for Bhagavathy and sahasrakalasham for Thiruvenkitachalapathy with Brahmakalasam are conducted as prescribed after the Naveekarana Kalasam.
Thantric rites for the rectification in the erosion of the power of the deity due to omissions and commissions are an important part of the anual festival. The rejuvenated energy overflows and envelops the surroundings lending end energy to all. Public feeding and cultural programmes are also conducted during the ulsavam. The Lord is taken the around the temple on a caparisoned elephant followed with the drums five times each morning and evening during the first three days after the flag hoisting. This is a important feature of the utsavam.
Most important days of the Brahmotsavam are the last three days, Utsavabali (auspicious for darsan) Pallivetta (Symbolic destruction of evil) and Aarattu (holy immersion of the Lord in the tank) marking the culmination of the festival. The Arat procession with the Lord on an caparisoned elephants taken around the main roads of the village is a colorful sight and at the same time is a devotionally charged experience. The devotees flock at their gates with various offerings in their ecstasy to receive the Lord which happens only once in a year.
After the procession returns to the temple the Lord is immersed in the temple tank after Thanthri rites and the devotees who throng on the main ghats of the temple tank also simultaneously dip themselves in the temple tank. Here also the emphasis on devotion, dipping in the temple tank charged with divine power on the idol's immersion.
After the arattus the Lord is taken again on the mounted elephant for nine pradhakshinams around the temple and at the end of the nine pradhakshinas the flag is deposited and the ulsavam comes to an end. Twenty five Kalababishekams are done again and ulsavam comes to an end with Athazhapooja and Sree bhoodabali. The Ayyappan Vilakku Festival which is being conducted in the premises of this temple on the 15th December every year, for the last forty years by the Guruvayur Ayyappa Bhajana Sanghom has become an important annual event of this temple. The public feeding in the morning, noon and at night without any restriction of religion, caste or creed or numbers adds weight to the solemn, devotional and pious atmosphere. Lord Ayyappa's presence is felt everywhere.
From Cochin International Airport the temple is 79.7 KM. It is 1.1 KM from Guruvayur Railway Station, 1.3 KM from Guruvayur Bus stand and 50 m from Balakrishna Bus Stop.
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