Dhanvanthari the God of health, healing and cure is an incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of the gods (devas), and the controller (god) of Ayurvedic medicine. It is common practice within Hinduism for worshippers to pray to Dhanvanthari asking him for improved or good health.
Dhanvantari is depicted with four hands, holding Shanka(caunch),Chakra(disc), Jaluka(leech, used by Ayurvedic practitioners for blood letting) and Amruta Kalasa (a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amruta). The Puranas state that Dhanavantari emerged from the 'Ocean of Milk' or Ksheerasagara and appeared with the pot of nectar during the story of the Samudra Madhana whilst the ocean was being churned using the Mandara mountain. After this event another avatar, Mohini, appears and takes the nectar back from the Asuras.
Dhanvantari reincarnated in Varanasi and brought medical science to the world. He perfected many herbal based cures and natural remedies and was accredited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative properties of salt which he incorporated them in his cures. He is also considered as a great surgeon who taught Ayurvedic surgery to Susrutha, the father of Ayurvedic surgery. Being a very skilled surgeon according to the standrards of his time, he is widely believed to be the pioneer of modern medical practices like plastic surgery. Albeit his methods were a lot cruder and more painful and were used only in emergencies, such as on the injuries of war victims. All his surgeries were performed without anaesthetic, however in spite of his crude methods he was reported to have had a very high success rate. As a result of the brilliance and achievements he displayed in the field of medicine he was chosen as one of the Nine Gems in early Indian ruler Vikramaditya’s court.
Birth day of Lord Dhanavantari, is celebrated by the practitioners of the Ayurveda every year on Dhana Trayodasi in Aswina month (two days before Deepavali). In North India, no permanent temple is established for Lord Dhanwanthary. However in South India especially in Kerala and Tamilnadu,some temples of Lord Dhanvantari is present. Images of Dhanwantari are often found in the shrines of Ayurvedic docters.
The biggest, beautiful and great temple dedicated to Lord Dhanwanthari is in Nelluvayi. Nelluvayi is situated in between Palakkad and Trishur and is away 15 Kilometers from Vadakkancherry. From very remote areas and remote places of the country, the sick and ailed people will come here and will stay for weeks and months, serve the Lord and when get cured, returns to their native places. It is believed by the sick person that by visiting, seeing and worshiping Lord Dhanavantari inside the Temple, they will be certainly get relived from their ailments and diseases. A large number of visiters every day visits to this temple. Shukla Paksha Ekadasi or Vaikunda Ekadasi in Dhanu (December-January) month is famous as Nelluvayi Ekadasi. This is the fourth Ekadasi in Kerala which is specially connected to a temple name.The other three are Guruvayoor Ekadasi, Thiruvilwamala Ekadasi and Triprayar Ekadasi.
Maruthorvattam Dhanwanthari Temple near Cherthala in Alappuzha District is the next famous temple for Dhanwantari in Kerala. The other famous Dhanwanthari temples in Kerala are Thottuva Dhanwanthari Temple near Kalady in Ernakulam district and Prayikkara Dhanwanthari Temple near Mavelikkara in Alapuzha district.
Dhanavantari Temples in Kerala
Maruthorvattam Dhanavantari Temple
Nelluvayi Dhanavantari Temple
Thottuva Dhanavantari Temple
Prayikkara Dhanavantari Temple