The Thiruvambady Temple and the Thrissur Pooram festival are today almost synonymous to the general public. However the festival is the climax to sustained, round the year activities of divine worship. These activities are aimed at providing a spiritual avenue for peace, tranquility and a mental uplift for thousands of devotees. The temple is located 1 km north of the famous Vadakkunnathan Temple at Trichur and 800m from Swaraj Round, on Shornur Road. It is a 10 minute drive from Thrissur Railway Station and bus stand. In physical appearance the temple is a small one; but in quality and immensity of rites of worship, it stands on par with the Mahakshethras here.
The main deity at Thiruvambady is Unnikrishna (Lord Krishna in His infant form). Goddess Bhagavathy is consecrated in a shrine on the left of Lord Krishna and worshipped with equal ardour.
Lord Ganesha, Dharmasastha and the founders of the temple are worshipped in separate shrines outside the Nalambalam.Deities known by Dravidian names - Kukshi Ayyapa, Manikanda, Ghandakarna, Raktheswari and Bhairava are also enshrined here, just outside the walls of the temple.
The idol of Lord Krishna, now worshipped here, was originally the Parthasarathy idol in a temple at Edakkalathur, a sleepy hamlet, about 15km from Thrissur. The temple had the same name - Thiruvambady - and there were many shrines too, for Bhagavathy, Sastha, etc. Some four centuries ago, when life and property in the village were threatened by communal conflagration, some villagers under the cover of darkness surreptitiously carried the idol to Thrissur and entrusted the same to a pious Namboodiri couple at Kachanappilly Illam, 200mtrs from the present Thiruvambady temple. The childless couple considered it a blessing in disguise from the Almighty and as they fostered the idol for worship, they felt it was their own unborn child. The benevolent Lord who appears before a devotee in the form he wants, opted to cast aside Partha Sarathy's whip and to pick up the flute in one hand and extended the other to receive the butter of devotion from the 'foster parents'. A small temple in the form of a 'sala' was erected 200 meters, South of Kachanappally Illam and 'Unnikrishna' was enshrined.
The saga of Kodungallur Devi is no less enchanting. The Kachanappally couples were ardent devotees of Kodungallur Devi and the husband used to travel a distance of 40km on feet, up and down, every month, to have a darshan of the Devi at Kodungallur. With the passage of time and deteriorating health conditions, per force, he had to bid farewell to the Deity and plod homeward with a broken heart. However, just like a human mother, the Devi could not bear the pangs of separation from her dedicated devotee; her 'Chaitanya' followed the Bhaktha to his abode and consequently got enshrined on a granite pillar in the central courtyard within the Nalukettu. It is this consecrated pillar with the Devi 'Chaitanya' which is installed in the Sanctum to the left of Unnikrishna and worshipped as the compassionate Balabhadrakali (Kali as a child).
The aura of the divine duo-Unni and Devi - makes Thiruvambady a spiritual beacon of beatitude, like Brindavan, providing solace and succour to thousands of devotees from far and near. The poojas and other thanthric rites are performed, as envisaged in Thanthra samuchaya, with meticulous care, and this has upgraded the small temple qualitatively to the stature of a Mahakshethra.
ABOUT THRISSUR POORAM
The Thrissur Pooram is famous for processions of fully caparisoned elephants, choicest percussion ensembles like Panchavadyam and Pandimelom, and a colourful display of fireworks, has no parallel for comparison. With illuminations, festoons, pandals and welcome arches, the town turns itself into a veritable paradise during the Pooram season.
Pooram was envisioned and choreographed, more than 200 years ago, by the then ruler of Cochin State, Shri. Ramavarma, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805), who ruled the state during a period of crisis. He cleared the deep forests surrounding the Vadakkunnathan Temple and made a maidan of it. As a ruler who did a lot to convert Thrissur to a developed city, Sakthan decided to organize a grand annual festival in Thrissur, using the new Temple Maidan as the main venue. Sakthan, who was bent upon putting an end to the excessive Namboodiri domination in the socio-political arena of the state, opted to call the leaders of two temples, Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu, which were under the governance of the temple going public of the locality. He held discussion with them and chalked out plans for the festival.
It was at this point of time, that the responsible persons of eight other temples, who were Namboodiri Ooralars /local chieftains approached the King with a request to save them from the disgrace inflicted on them by the Perumanam chiefs thro' banning them from participating in the Arattupuzha Pooram which was almost 1200 years then. The king graciously allowed these temples to participate in the Thrissur Pooram, to be celebrated on Pooram in the month of Medam (April 14 - May 15).
The festival was meticulously planned. The Thiruvambady and Pramekkavu would be the live wires of the festival and would compete with one another, for artistic perfection. The other 8 temples would bring their deities to the precincts of Vadakkunnathan Temple, offer obeisance to the presiding deity and then depart. Decorations, firing of pop guns and fireworks could be done only by the two major partners. The others could conduct their processions at the prescribed time schedules, subject to the condition that the number of elephants could not go beyond 14. 15 elephants could be fielded only by the major temples.
It remains a pleasant surprise that the prescriptions laid down by 'Sakthan' in the 18th century are followed even today.
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