Monday, May 13, 2019

My mother's family side Kula Daivam temple in Thuravoor, Kerala and Manapullikaavu (sacred grove) temple near Palakkad, Kerala

I have to say that till recently I was not aware of my mother's family's Kula Daivam temple at Thuravoor and Kaavu (Manapullikavu) temple near Palakkad, both in Kerala. Perhaps that's because after marriage, my father's family's Kula Daivam temple became my mother's Kula Daivam temple.

I came to know of my mother's family's Kula Daivam and Kaavu temples via an exchange on LinkedIn with a relative on my mother's side, who is now based in the USA, with whom I recently re-connected.

He wrote that there is a temple in Thuravoor - it is called the Narasimha Moorthy Shetram. He said that our family which includes my mom's family and his mom's family has a tradition of sponsoring the worship function of first day of month of Dhanu (December mid I think) at that temple.

I then checked with my mother's brother's son (my cousin who is currently based in a Middle-Eastern country) about it over email. He wrote that he visits this temple in Thuravoor every year with his wife and son. He said the Brahman Samoham sponsors the Dhanu 1 activities, and that he contributes to this and also visits the temple during this time. His father (my mother's brother) Late R.L. Narasimhan used to do this, and my cousin continues the family tradition.

Note that our great-grandfather (mother's and uncle's grandfather) Thuravoor Narayana Sasthrigal seems to have hailed from Thuravoor (as indicated by his name).

These are the links to the temple: ,

This wiki page,,_Cherthala, has a lot of info. on Thuravoor temple. Some extracts from it are given below:

Thuravoor Mahakshethram, an ancient Devasthanam located by the side of NH-47, approximately 25 km south of Kochi city, is the sacred abode of Lord Sree Narasimhamoorthy and Lord Sree Mahasudarsanamoorthy. The entire temple complex can be seen from the road.

Two separate Sanctom Sanctoroms in close proximity - within the same compound - reflect the synthesis of a unique and mysterious divine power. The idol of Sree Narasimhamoorthy is said to have originated in the holy city of Kashi (Varanasi). Swami Padmapadar (8th century AD), the principal disciple of Adi Sankaracharya, had worshipped the very same idol at Kashi.

Distinctive in its architectural and artistic grandeur, Thuravoor Mahakshethram is one of the most venerated places of worship in Kerala. Twin Sreekovils (Sanctom Sanctoroms) - one square and the other circular shaped - in a single Nalambalam, two gold-plated flagmasts that tower into the skies, a majestically tall Anapandhal (elephant rostrum, the largest in Kerala) and a strict regimen of observances of vrathas for the priests, days after days of rituals and festivals, chanting of Vedic hymns and presentation of learned discourses on Puranas throughout the year... all these attract streams of devotees to the temple from within and outside the state. Vedi - vazhivadu is one of the popular vazhivadu or offerings in the temple.

Of the two temples here, it is believed that the one dedicated to Sudarsanamoorthy was the first to come into existence. Though there is no record of its origin, the temple is estimated to be over 1300 years old. There are scholars who hold that the circular-shaped Sreekovil belongs to the Thretha Yuga; according to others, its origin dates back to the Dwapara Yuga. Some palm leaf texts on the temple do exist, but nobody has yet been able to understand or decipher them.

As for the Narasimhamoorthy temple, records do show that it came into being sometime in the 7th century AD, during the reign of a Chera king named Keralendran. His guru was the great Muringottu Adigal, a well-known Tulu Brahmin priest and scholar.

--- end extracts ---

My first relative mentioned in this post (the one I interacted with via LinkedIn) later informed me of another temple, Manapullikavu,, close to Palakkad that my mother's family visited regularly.

On checking about this with my cousin, he confirmed that his father used to visit both Thuravoor temple and Manapullikavu, and that he is continuing with this tradition by visiting both temples once a year.

It seems that it is not uncommon for families to have a Kula Daivam temple as well as another Kavu temple as regular family worship temples.


Kavu is the traditional name given for sacred groves across the Malabar Coast in Kerala, South India.[1] Kavus are notable for Theyyam, the centuries-old ritual dance.
A Kavu is a South Indian version of an Indian sacred grove.

Sacred groves of India are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected, and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited within these patches.[3]
Traditional uses: One of the most important traditional uses of sacred groves was that it acted as a repository for various Ayurvedic medicines. Other uses involved a source of replenishable resources like fruits and honey. However, in most sacred groves it was taboo to hunt or chop wood. The vegetation cover helps reduce soil erosion and prevents desertification, as in Rajasthan. The groves are often associated with ponds and streams, and meet water requirements of local communities. They sometimes help in recharging aquifers as well.

Modern uses: In modern times, sacred groves have become biodiversity hotspots, as various species seek refuge in the areas due to progressive habitat destruction, and hunting. Sacred groves often contain plant and animal species that have become extinct in neighboring areas. They therefore harbor great genetic diversity. Besides this, sacred groves in urban landscapes act as "lungs" to the city as well, providing much needed vegetation cover.

Wiki References:
1. M. Jayarajan, Sacred Groves of North Malabar Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine, Kerala Research Programme on Local Level Development, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram (ISBN 81-87621-95-8)
3. Gadgil, M. and Vartak, V.D. ; Sacred groves of India : A plea for continued conservation Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, 72 : 314-320, 1975
--- end wiki extracts ---

Note that in the extracts below Sree Manappulli Bhagavathi is the presiding deity of Manapullikavu temple.
From :

Sree Manappulli Bhagavathi is Bhadrakaali and was born out of the sacred "Jada" of Lord Shiva during Dakshayaga. She is black in colour, with four hands, each one having Soolam, Kapalam, Gadkam and Khedam. She is with three eyes, two ‘Dhamshtram’, with ‘Pattudayada’ and valuable ornaments. The Prathishta is in ‘Shanta Bhava’. During ‘Chandattam’ ceremony She turns to ‘Rudra Bhava’ and becomes ‘Shanta Swaroopini ‘after accepting the ‘Kadummadura Payasa Nivedyam’. She is believed to satisfy the desires, hopes and aspirations of her true devotees and also protect them from all evils.

According to a legendary myth about the temple, an Asura called Neelan was disturbing the people with his misdeeds and became a menace to them. The people, complained about this to Parasuraman and he in turn sought a remedy from Lord Paramasiva. Paramasiva incarnating his female personality to Bhadra Kali and sent her to Akamalavaram to kill Neelan. After killing Neelan, Kali became Manappulli Bhagavathy showering prosperity to her devotees.

The Palghat district where the temple is situated, has mainly paddy cultivation as the main occupation of the people. The district is called the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Kerala. The social and cultural customs of the people are, therefore, one way or other, connected with paddy cultivation. They believe that the Goddesses of ‘Kavu’ (temple) protect them in their ‘Thattakam’ (meaning the area where they live, surrounds the ‘Kavu’). The people make offerings to the Goddesses in their ‘Thattakam’ in the form agricultural produces having bearing on the seasonal agriculture.

--- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: It seems to me that the Thuravoor Mahakshetram temple follows Hindu Vedic (Brahmin) worship traditions whereas the Manapullikavu temple near Palakkad seems to follow Hindu non-Vedic (folk) worship traditions.

My mother used to tell me about land her family had that was lost in some land reform act. Perhaps describes those acts done in late 1950s and first half of 1960s. I would not be surprised if our great-grandfather Thuravoor Narayana Sasthrigal (TNS) was donated some land by the King of Travancore, and which land was tilled by tillers who got some of the produce but perhaps had to give part of the produce to TNS' family (my mother's family), with ownership of the land being with TNS' family and NOT the tillers. The land reform act would have transferred this land previously owned by my mother's family to the tillers in late 1950s or early 1960s!

But while my mother and her siblings, including my uncle Late R.L. Narasimhan, were growing up, the land would have been their family's, and they would have had a familiar relationship with the tillers. So my mother and her siblings and parents (my mother's father Late Ramachandran was B.A.,B.L., a magistrate and later a senior civil servant) would have participated in major worship functions that the agrarian community were involved in. And these worship functions would have involved Kaavus like Manapullikavu.

Thus my mother's family would have been involved in Hindu Vedic (Brahmanical) worship through Thuravoor Mahakshetram (temple) and in Hindu non-Vedic (folk) worship through Manapullikavu temple near Palakkad. I find that to be very interesting and quite fascinating! I love and revere almost all kinds of worship traditions of God including Hindu non-Vedic (folk) worship traditions which promote reverence for divine power and promote community good.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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