Monday, July 15, 2024

Fairs and Festivals

Temple Festivals
Kottiyoor Utsavam

Also known as Kottiyoor Vaisakha Mahotsavam, the 28 day festival is held in the Kottiyoor Shiva temple, situated at the foot of the Western Ghat Sahyadri hills rising 3,000 to 5,000 feet from the sides of the little glade, on the banks of river Bavali in Kottiyoor, a small town in Kannur district in the northern part of Kerala. Incidentally, Kottiyoor forests is the 23rd wild life sanctuary in Kerala.

The festival is held, not in the main temple but in the forest about a quarter of a mile away from it. There is a stream between the spot where the festival is held and the main temple, a nalukettu complex known as 'Ikkare Kottiyoor'. About a hundred yards beyond the stream there is a little glade in the forest which is a sacred spot, known as 'Akkare Kottiyoor' ('Akkare' literally means opposite bank of the river in local language Malayalam). It is kept extremely holy and the very idea of visiting it except during the festival in June-July, is deemed dreadful. So Akkare Kottiyoor open only once in a year during the festival. In the centre of the glade is 'manithara', a circle of piled stones, 12 feet in diameter and in the middle of the pile of stones is the sacred 'Swayambhu lingam'. Temporary sheds are put up for the occasion and the rituals of the festival are performed here. Pilgrims carry offerings with them when they attend the festival.

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According to the legends, it is believed to be the place where 'Daksha Yaga' was conducted by Daksha, the father of Lord Shiva's wife Sati. Daskha invited all the Gods and Rishis except Lord Shiva and Sati. Sati went for the yaga uninvited despite Lord Shivas warnings, and was humiliated by her father Daksha. Unable to bear the brunt from her father, she jumped into the yaga fire and immolated herself. Devastated by his beloved wifes death, Shiva tore at his hair and hurled a lock to the ground, creating his fierce form, Virabhadra and Bhadrakali. Virabhadra accompanied by the Bhoothganas destroyed the yagna and beheaded Daksha. Lord Shiva danced the tandava with his wifes dead body and the pieces fell in different places. Another version is that seeing the Tandava, the dance of destruction, other Gods requested Lord Vishnu to save them. The Lord used his Sudarshana Chakra to cut the body into pieces which fell in different parts of the world. This legend is believed to be the origin of 'Shakthipitas' / 'Shaktipeethas', i.e important shrines and pilgrimage centers of Shaktism, the mother Goddess sect of  Hinduism. This incident holds special significance in Shaivism and Shaktism sects of Hinduism.

Present day rituals of Kottiyoor were set out by Sri Shankaracharya. The celebrations begin with the bringing of a sword from Muthirerikavu in Wayanad. 'Neyyattam' is the first ritual held on the Chothi asterism of the Malayalam month of Edavam and 'Thrikkalashaattu' is the last, held on the Chithira asterism of the Malayalam month of Midhunam. Interesting rituals in between are, 'Elaneer Vayppu' or submitting tender coconuts before the swayambhu Shiva linga, when thousands of tender coconuts are brought from different parts of Malabar by the devotees. The following day is 'Elaneeraattam', where the main priest of the temple, pours the collected coconut water on to the idol. Another rare ritual is 'Rohini Aaradhana' where the priest embraces the swayambhoo Shiva linga as part of the ritual. This ritual is done in commemoration of  how Vishnu embraced Shiva to pacify and comfort him for the loss of his dear wife Sati.

The festival is attended by all classes of people, but they do not mix together. Each community is given right to perform specific rituals and duties for their pilgrimage. The Nambuthiris /Nairs go first and after a few days, the Nairs having done, the Thiyans and so on. The pilgrims like those who are bound to go for the cock-festival at Cranganore or 'Kodungallur Bharani', indulge in the vilest and filthiest abuse. They use personal violence to persons and property all along the road, in commemoration of the incident where Daksha Yaga was destroyed by Lord Shivas Bhootaganas.  

Contact Address :

Sree Thricherumanna Alias Kottiyoor Devaswom
P.O. Kottiyoor, Kannur Dist, Pin-670 651

Tel : +91 490 2430234 , 2430434
Fax: 0480 2430234
Website :