The Nagaraja Temple is located in Thrissur, Kerala and is visited by devotees with prayers for wealth, good health and protection from trouble.
About the temple
The Serpent Gods Nagaraja (male God) and Naga Yakshi (female God) reside in the eastern portion of Mekkattu Mana. The peculiarity is that there are no idols of these Gods, however, daily poojas are conducted without fail. The Pambu Mekkattu is spread over six acres of land with five "Serpant Kavus" or sacred snake gardens. The Pambummekkattu land is kept in its virgin style with huge trees and thick vegetation. Thousands of bats are dwelling on these trees. Only on rare occasions the devotees are allowed to enter into the Pambummekkattu Temple for worship. On the first of the Malayalam month "Vrischikam", which falls on November 17 in the English Calendar, many devotees of Sabarimala Ayyappa come to Pambu Mekkattu for the blessings of the Serpent Gods. Noorum Palum or food and milk is offered to the snakes is on this day.
Legend and stories
There is a legend behind how Mekkattu Mana became Pampumekkattu Mana. Once, Mekkattu Mana was suffering from acute poverty and miseries. The sufferings were so unbearable that the Head of the family decided to be in deep meditation and prayers in Thiruvanchikulam Temple at Kodungallur. He stayed there and prayed continuously for twelve years. One day early morning he went to the temple pond of Thiruvanchikulam to fetch some water where he saw a strange man near the pond with extra ordinary body structure. The Namboodiri asked him to reveal his identity. But the strange man responded in a vague manner. He realized that the strange person who was standing near the pond was an unusual divine power, he asked him to give the precise ring that he was wearing to show his friends and Kodungallur Thampuran. The ring so given to the Namboodiri was returned and immediately on receiving it back the man disappeared. As the identity of the strange man was still a mystery, the Namboodiri's mind was restless. On the next day Namboodiri went to the Thiruvanchikulam pond as usual to take water, he saw the same mysterious man near the pond. Then Namboodiri bowed down at his feet and requested him to reveal his identity.
The mystery man said, "I am Vasuki" (Vasuki is the serpent God according to Hindu Mythology) and to prove his identity he squeezed himself to a ring similar to the one Lord Parameswaran wore in his finger. At this strange sight, the Namboodiri fainted. When Namboodiri gained his conscious, Vasuki asked him, what blessings he wished to have. Namboodiri replied that he wanted to have Vasuki's presence in his Illam (Illam or Mana means Brahmin's house in Malayalam) to have prosperity in his Illam. Vasuki agreed to his request and disappeared. After he got the blessings of Vasuki, the Namboodiri returned to his Illam Mekkattu Mana at Vadama near Mala. He put his palm leaf umbrella in the Kizhakkini (eastern court of the Mekkattu Illam) of the Mekkattu Illam and went for bath. After the bath when he came to take the umbrella, he saw a snake on the umbrella greeting him. The snake transformed himself to Vasuki and added that Nagayakshi (godess of serpents) will also soon be presented there. After a while, the eldest Antharjanam (malayalam word for Brahmin lady) of the Mekkattu Illam came there.
She put her palm leaf umbrella (in the olden days, Brahmin ladies, as a custom, used to hold palm leaf umbrellas, to cover up their face, which are unfoldable, while moving out of their Illams) in the portico before stepping into the home. Soon a snake appeared there on the umbrella and slowly moved to the Kizhakkini of Mekkattu Mana. On reaching the Kizhakkini, the snake manifested into a beautiful lady and took position near Vasuki. They both ordered the Namboodiri to install them as idols at the place they stand and consider them as their family deities. They also suggested to keep two "Kedavilakku" (means a lamp kept burning using oil) in the Kizhakkini of the Mekkattu Illam forever.The Mekkattu Namboodiri did everything according to the directions and continued daily rituals to appease them. Thereafter, the Mekkattu Mana (Illam) came to be known as "Pampumekkattu Mana" (pampu means snake in Malayalam) and became prosperous day by day and very famous. The memories of the Great Serpent Gods who to the Pambummekkattu Mana as snakes still fill the hearts of the devotees with blessings and happiness.The members of Pambummekkattu Mana call the snakes "parambaryalgal" (traditions). Now is believed that when a birth occurs, the "parambaryalgal" will come to see the newborn. Likewise, if a death occurs in the family, a "parambaryalgal" will also die. The dead body of the family member will be cremated only after cremating the "parambaryalgal" body. As burning fire in the Mana and premises (except in the kitchen hearth) are forbidden, the funeral pyre for the namboori and the "parambaryalgal" are set in the southern compound which is called "Thekke Kavu". This shows the intimacy between members of the family and the serpents. The Mekkattu family members are not bitten by snakes owing to Vasuki's blessings. If anybody gets bitten, the venom will not affect them. The venom in turn affects the snake itself and the family members save them, surprisingly, up to this day, nobody has been bitten by a snake from the Mana which has so many snakes in its premises. But, today nobody comes to the Mana for treatment, may be due to the advancement in science.
1. First of the month of Vrishchikam(mid November).
2. Ayilyam in the month of Kanni(mid sept-mid oct).
3. From Thiruvonam to Bharani in the month of Meenam (mid March to Mid April).
4. Tenth of the month of Medam(mid of April).
The most important occation in Mekkattu Mana is first of Vrishchikam. That day is celebrated as the festival of Serpent Gods and every Serpent Gods and every Serpent God is pleased that day by giving lime (calcium oxide) and milk. It is believed that only the members of the Mekkattu family has the right to conduct Sarpabali. From the first of Vrishchikam to 41 days, Sarpabali is conducted as a special offering every evening. Other than this, the Bali is conducted on chosen days decided by the Mana. During Mandalakalam (41 days from Vrishchikam 1), 'Kalamezhuthum Pattum' is conducted. Only 'Sarpapattu' is conducted and not'Pulluvanpattu'.
Normally, only higher caste people are permitted into the 'Kavu'. But on special days people of all castes can come to the temple. These days they can enter anywhere except the 'Kizhakkini'. The devotees have to take bath in the pond and enter the 'Kavu' with wet body and clothes.
Offerings At Pambummekkattu Mana
The Mekkattu Namboori's also treated the outsiders who are bitten by the snakes but on some conditions. The bitten person is to be Vazhipadu Vivaram (Details of Offerings). Vella Nivedyam, Kootupayasam, Palpayasam, Kadalipazha Nivedyam, Manjalpodi Charthal, Vilakkuvekkal, Sarpabali, Payasa Homam, Naga Prathishta, Noorum Palum, Pushpanjali, Malakku, Prathima Pooja, Abhishekamv, Thulabharamv, Annaprasham, Ayilya Pooja and Rahu Pooja. The favourite offering to Serpent Gods is 'Kadalipazha Nivedyam'(a kind of banana). 'Noorum Palum' (lime and milk) is offered only in special occasions. 'Thulabharam' and 'Annaprasham' are offered to get a baby.
Devotees can hire taxis from Mala town or travel by regular buses plying Mala, Ashtamichira and Kodungallur. The distance from Mala to Vadama is 1.5 kms and from Vadama to Pampumekkattu Mana is only 1 km.
Kerala, PIN - 680 736.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Good health
- Protection from trouble
Daivi Hyesa Gunamayi Mama Maya Duratyaya Mameva Ye Prapadyante Mayametam Taranti Te
Meaning -According to this sloka, the heavenly maya of God is very complicated, but those who worship God will be able to overcome it.
Balam Balavatam Caham Kamaragavivarjitam Dharmaviruddho Bhutesu Kamo'smi Bharatarsabha
Meaning -According to this sloka, God is the isolated and aloof strength of the controlling and virtuous craving in men.
Ye Caiva Sattvika Bhava Rajasastamasasca Ye Matta Everti Tanviddhi Na Tvaham Tesu Temayi
Meaning -According to this sloka, though the only source of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obsessive and dark) elements is God, they are not present within the God or the deity.
Tribhirgunamayairbhavairebhih Sarvamidam Jagat Mohitam Nabhijanati Mamebhyah Paramavyayam
Meaning -According to this sloka, the entire world doesn't recognize the eternal God beyond them, because they are consumed by the elements of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obssessive and dark).