water-logged Aluva Mahadeva Temple!!

Shiva Temple, Aluva. during non-rainy season. Kerala www.youtube.com

Shiva Temple, Aluva.www.hindu-blog.com

Above image: In certain years, the entire temporary shrine gets submerged in water. This is known as natural Arattu – bathing of the deity..........

Every Hindu temple of great antiquity is unique in its own way and its veneration is enhanced by the legends behind it. Devotees with many problems go to such sanctified place for  peace of mind and remedy through prayer /prarthana. The latter can be achieved only with faith. The Hindu temple rituals and worships are entirely based on faith in God. Faith in God should be followed by hard work and desire to succeed. This is also true of other faiths as well. 
We rarely come across Hindu temples partly submerged in water during rainy seasons normally associated with the NE or SW monsoons, and in spite of it devotees visit them for worship. There is a temple in Kerala that is submerged partly during SW  Monsoon  and  devotees  visit the temple and take part in temple festival Maha Shivaratri, unmindful of water logging around the area. It clearly points out people's faith in the power of almighty through prayer to bless them with peace of mind and good health. Aluva Mahadeva Temple is an important place of veneration and Bakthi  in Kerala and is different from other Shiva temples across Kerala. Temple is located on the sand bank (flood plains) in between the Mangalppuzha and Periyar river (1Km from the Marthanda Varma bridge  on NH-47).  Not withstanding the fact that the idol of Shiva here is in Swayamboo form, the temple gains prominence because  Shivalinga, that rises from the sands on the bank of the Periyar river,  was installed by Lord Parasurama and  later worshiped by Lord Sri Rama. Yet another fact is Shivalinga is not enshrined in the  Sreekovil or Garbagraha  as one will find in all Hindu  temples. This place is frequently referred to as the Aluva Manal Puram (in local parlance meaning land with sand).

There is no Hindu temple in India that does not have a legend or two and this one is no exception. One legend has it that the Shiva Linga here on the river bank was damaged because of flooding in the Periyar river whenever it was in spate. Lord Shiva told Parasurama who installed the Swaymbu Lingam that he did not like a temple or any structure built to cover the exposed Lingam.

The other legend has it the Boothaganas  - good demons wanted to build the structure and Shiva told them to have it built overnight. Before the dawn, Lord Vishnu, disguising as rooster signaled the arrival of early morning. As the work was not completed as promised, the Boothaganas left the place. According to sthalapurana  Rama came here in search of his consort Sita and performed the Tharpana - homage to Jatayu, the bird who fought with demon Ravana and got killed.

Vilwamangalam Swamiyar, a  was a true devotee of Shiva and on his visit to this place he realized the presence of Lord Shiva and identified the Shiva Linga installed by Parasurama. No sooner had he begun to worship Shiva, than the lord appeared before him and instructed him to continue the pooja here. 
Aluva  Siva temple, Shivaratri  indiaeve.com
 The Swamiyar's assistants - Namboothri Brahmins made proper arrangements for Shiva Pooja and Vilwamngalam started the pooja. As there were no vessels to offer Nivedyam,  he used a Kavungin Pala (aracanut leaf) to offer Nivedyam (food offering to god). Even today the tradition continues and nivedyam is offered in Kavungin Pala and is called Palanivedyam. Later Vilwamangalam and his associates - Ilayathu, Nambiar and Nampoothiri - constructed a temple but it was destroyed during floods in AD 1343 as the temple was on the river bed.  The local Namboothri Brahmins decided to build a small temple to perform pooja during the monsoon. The Kerala  Devaswom Board  did not want to build a big temple and it would be against the wish of the lord - Shiva.  Though small, the temple has withstood the ravages of flooding  for a pretty long time. The temple is unfinished and hence called Bala Shetram.

Devotees doing tharpanam.Sivarathri Manappuramwww.newindianexpress.com
The Mahadeva temple at Aluva  www.hithokthi.com
 Above image:  Aluva, June 26, 2013: The Mahadeva temple at Aluva on the banks of the Periyar in Kerala is almost submerged following incessant rain .........

The Shiva Linga in this temple faces east and there is a stone image of nandi (bull). Among the temple festivals, the Maha Shivaratri (February- March) is celebrated on  a  grand scale that the entire vast sand bank is filled with thousands of devotees who stay awake whole night,  doing prayers, Bhajans and chanting mantras. The entire atmosphere is charged with devotion and religious fervor. Devotees also pay homage  (Tharpanam) to their pithroos - forefathers by dipping in the river at Brahmamuhurtha after the ritual.  
Aluva Shiva Temple, Kerala. www.keralataxis.com
 As part of the festival, a  fair is also organized for a month from the Shivarathri day. Yet another  temple ritual is daily Ezhunnallippu  carrying the deity  atop a caparisoned elephant - in  a procession  called  Dikvijayam. it is a colorful one held with fanfare  on the third and fourth days, and pallivetta ceremony on the fifth day. The festival concludes with the Aarattu (Aarthi) on the next day of Shivarathri. The local government makes elaborate preparations at least one month before the festival, considering the water logging problem and and the weak sandy river bank.

As for pooja  protocol there is only one pooja from Makaram  to Medam - only athazha pooja and on other days only just nivedyam (food offering) is offered to the deity as in other temple. Temple is managed by Travancore Devaswom Board. Aluva town is located on the banks of Periyar river, 21 Kms from Ernakulam.