Thiruvalla Sree Vallabha Temple
Thiruvalla is one among the 32 Brahmin gramams in Kerala. The name Thiruvalla is a colloquial form of Sreevallabhapuram, named after the chief deity Sree Vallabha. The ancient name of Thiruvalla was "Valla vai". This name had some relation with the river Manimala which was known as Valla puzha, suggesting that Thiruvalla was at the mouth/bank of river Manimala and hence was known as Valla vai. Thiruvalla was under the rulership of Ay, Nantuzhainadu, Thekkumkoor and Thiruvithamkoor dynasties.
The idol of Maha Vishnu or Sree Vallabha was sculpted by Viswakarma at the behest of Lord Krishna and was given to Satyaki at the end of Dwapara Yuga. Towards the end of Dwapara Yuga, Lord asked Garuda to keep the idol in safe custody and accordingly Garuda kept it in Netravati river which flows from Karnataka to Kerala. Later, the royal consort of Cheraman Perumal - the emperor of Kerala had a dream that the idol of Krishna was lying on the bed of Netravati river. All efforts were taken to search the idol. At last the idol was discovered from the Bhadra Hrada of Netravati river in B. C 59 with the joint effort of the Tulu Brahmins and the local potties (Malayala Brahmins or Nampoothiries). Cheraman Perumal built a temple at Thiruvalla to install the idol. The Prathishta (installation) ritual was conducted on 14th day of Edavam in B.C 59 (Kaliyugam 3043).
Sree Vallabha is portrayed as bearing a conch, a discus and a lotus. The Sudarshana Chakram seen through the west cardinal door of the sanctum is held in worship and is believed to have been installed in the 13th century. Historical evidence such as copper plates and proclamations point to Tiruvalla as a flourishing and major center of spiritual and educational prominence in AD 1100. The Sree Vallaba Temple governed a Vedic School with one thousand students and one hundred teachers.
The temple compound is more than 8 acres. The huge compound wall is 12 feet high and 562 feet long (in one side). There are four gopurams (in typical Kerala style)in four directions. North gopuram will be opened only on Uthram day in Meenam. While entering through the main gopuram the devotees will first see the three storied Garuda Madam. Inside this Garuda Madam there is a 53.5 feet high and 2.5 feet wide granite dwaja. A granite dwaja was carved out of single piece and was installed here in B.C 59 as an offering to Lord Sree Vallabha by Queen Cherumthevi, the wife of Cheraman Perumal. At the time of installation of the dwaja, Garuda appeared himself at the top of the dwaja. This dwaja till remains as a wonder. Later the dwaja slanted. So a structure called Garuda Madam was constructed to support the dwaja. It was designed by the legendary Perumthachan. He made a 3 feet high panachaloha Garuda Vigraha (idol) to install on the top of the dwaja. This was the original dwaja of this temple and later a separate golden dwaja was installed in between Garuda Madam and the balikkalppura on 14th May 1970.
The temple pond is called Ilavanthi theertham and is located at the north-east corner of the temple. The big Oottupura is situated at the north side of the temple. Once there was a Koothambalam but was distroyed by fire. The pradakshina veedhi is 104 feet long in one side. The nalambalam is made of granite and there is a vilakkumadam outside the nalambalam. The sreekovil is circular in shape with copper covered conical roof. Lord Sree Vallabha facing east and Lord Sudarsana or Chakrathazhvar facing west are installed in the same sreekovil. There are 8 subdieties in this temple. Varahamoorthy, Vadakkumthevar, Ganapathy, Garuda, Sastha, Kurayappan Swami, Ayal yakshi, Maya yakshi and Dakshinamoorthy are the subdieties. Shrines for Vadakkumthevar and Vishwaksena are inside the nalambalam and shrines of Sastha, Ganapathy and Kurayappan swami are outside the nalambalam. Varahamoorthy and Dakshinamoorthy shrines are in the main sreekovil of Sree Vallabha. Ayal yakshi and Maya yakshi were installed on the both sides of the vathilmadam.
The rule for darshan at this temple is like this - first offer prayers to Ganapathy, Sastha, Bhagavathy and Kurayappan swami outside the nalambalam. Then visit Ilavanthi Theertham and offer prayers to Sage Vyasa. Then offer prayers to Sage Durvasa and then to Garuda at the top of the dwaja. Then enter isnside the nalambalam and offer prayers to Vishwaksena, Dakshinamoorthy and reach infront of the sreekovil. Then offer prayers to Lakshmi Devi , bhumi Devi and Lord Sree Vallabha. Then start the pradakshinam inside the nalambalam and offer prayers to Lord sudarsana in the west nada.
Sree Vallabha Temple is a mahakshetra with five poojas and three sheevelis daily. The pooja style is based on Pacncharatra Samhitha especially on Durvasa Samhitha. Worship protocol is called Purusha Narayana Pooja. Poojas for Lord Sudarsana is according to Ahirbhudhnya Samhitha. for the first and second poojas (usha pooja and ethrutha pooja) Lord Sree Vallabha is worshipped in Bbrahmachari Bhava, for third and fourth poojas(pantheerady pooja and ucha pooja) Lord is worshipped in gruhastha Bhava and for fifth pooja (athazha pooja) He is worshipped in Sanyasi Bhava. After athazha pooja Lord's idol will be decorated with a Kavi Mundu and a long thulasi garland. For ucha pooja nivedyam, there must be truppuli, erisseri, parippu, upperi and uppu manga. After athazha pooja a ritual called Pallikkuruppu for Lord Sree Vallabha and Lakshmi Devi will be held at Palliyara and closes the doors of the temple. It is believed that Sage Durvasa will perform Ardhayama pooja for sree Vallabha in the midnight. In the morning poojas begins after Palliyyunarthal at Palliyara.
Tantries or chief priests are Thukalasseri Tharayil Kuzhikkattu Bhattathiri and Thekkedathu Kuzhikkattu Bhattathiri. As the Tulu Brahmins and the local potties jointly found the idol of Lord Sree Vallabha, the performance of poojas to the diety was shared amongst themselves as a commemoration of the incident. Hence, the tulu Brahmins offer pooja for 15 days and the Patthillatthil potties (potties from 10 houses) perform pooja for 15 days. Pala namaskaram (nivedyam offering in aracanut leaves) is a special ritual in this temple. Famous Malayalm poet Vishnu Nara Lord Sree Vallabha likes Kathakali very much and hence it is an important offering here. Kathakali, the folk art of kerala, is performed almost on all days in this temple as offerings by devotees. Usually stroies like Thukalasura Vadham, Santhanagopalam and Sree Vallabha Charitham will be performed as an offering to Sree Vallabha.
Women are not allowed near the sanctum sanctorum - except on the Vishu and Thiruvathira days. Elephants are not permitted inside the temple compound. The ten day long annual festival is in Kumbham with kodiyettu on Pooyam day. Arattu is performed in Manimala river at Thukalassery Kadalimangalam Kadavu. On arattu day Sree Vallabha visits Lord Mahadeva of Thukalassery Temple. The Uthraseeveli festival is celebrated for one day on the Makayiram asterism in Meenam (March - April). The north gopuram will be opened only for the uthraseeveli. On that day Goddess Durga of Alamthuruthy Padappadu Temple and Bhagavthy of Kariyanattukavu Temple will visit Lord Sree Vallabha. These Goddesses are the protectors of Thiruvalla Gramam. The auspicious `Pantheerayiram vazhipadu,' offering of 12,001 plantains of a special variety to the presiding deity is very famous. The ceremonial procession starts from the nearby Mahadevar Temple at Thukalassery. Twice in a year, the Lord is dressed like a hunter (on Thiruvathira in Dhanu and Vishu in Medam)
Thiruvalla Temple was once a place famous for Vedic schools. There were more than 1000 students and 100 teachers in this vedic school and was famous as Thiruvalla Sala. It was as famous as Thirumoozhikkulam Sala (vedic school in Thirumoozhikkulam Temple - another divya desam in Kerala) and was bigger than Niranam Sala and Kaviyoor sala.
In pasurams of Tirumangaialwar and Nammalwar, Thiruvalla is refered as Thiruvallavai, Sree Vallabha as Sree Kolapiran Perumal and Thayar (Mahalakshmi) as Selva Thirukozhunthu Naachiyaar or Vaathsalya Devi. Thiumangai alwars pasurams (1806-1817 in Nalayiram divya prabhandham) and Nammalwars pasurams(2612-2622 in Nalayiram divya prabhandham) praises the glory of Sree Vallabha. There are several inscriptions in this temple and one is dated back to 12th century and is called Thiruvalla Sasanam. Sree Vallabha Kshetra Mahatmyam in Sanskrit written in the tenth century praises the glory of Sree Vallabha. Sree Vallabha Charitham Kavyam, Thukalasura Vadham (kathakali), Sree Vallabha vijayam, Sree Vallabheswara suprabhatham, Yajanavali samgraham and Sree Vallabha Karnamrita stothram also praises the glories of Sree Vallabha.
The conduct of poojas in the Kerala Temples is devised mainly as per the principles contained in Tantric Texts. The authority in this field could be traced to the text "Tantra Samuchayam" written by Brahmasree Chennas Manackal Narayanan Namboodirippadu in the year 1427. But the pooja system followed in Sree Vallabha Temple is entirely different and the Melsanthi in Sree Vallabha Maha Temple, should be capable of performing "Pancharaatra School of Vaishnava Pooja" in the Temple. The said pooja could be performed only by a Karanma Santhi having hereditary competence and right as far as the Temple is concerned. There are altogether five families, who were having Karanma right for functioning as Melsanthi in Sree Vallabha Maha Temple. Those families are (1) Ambly, (2) Annankala, (3) Karakkadu, (4) Sreevelli and (5) Nedumbrathu Cherukudal. According to the Tantri, various poojas conducted in Sree Vallabha Maha Temple are unique and rare. The poojas are conducted according to the "Yajanavali Text" on the basis of Pancharaatra System contained in Sree Durvasa Samhita. Special Type of poojas are not being conducted in other temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board and close similarity could be seen as far as the poojas in Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple, Tripunithura is concerned. The unique and salient features of the conduct of poojas in Sree Vallabha Maha Temple are available in Chapter 21 of the book "Sree Vallabha Maha Kshetra Charithram" published by Sri. P. Unnikrishnan Nair. A detailed description is also available in the book "Thulasiharam" written by Smt. Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bai.
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Sree Vallabha Temple Uthraseeveli
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