Navaratri festival at the Travancore Maharajah's palace, Padmanabhapuram


Navaratri at Padmanabhapuram Palace, kerala.

Procession from Padmanabhapuram palace,,

Kerala Navaratri celebration, Golu,

Like any other southern states,  Kerala - God's Own Country  celebrates Navaratri festival in a way more or less similar to other  states, but without any pomp and colorful events relevant to this festival elsewhere.   The final three days of Navaratri - Ashtami, Navami, and Vijayadashami are given importance  here. The worship of deity Saraswati is significant among the Hindus. In this  state  Onam festival and Poorum festival at Thrissur are more popular than Navaratri.. An interesting  and distinctively unique  event takes place during the dasara at  Padmanabhapuram palace owned by the Maharajah of Travancore at Padmanabhapuram near Thuckalay in the Kanyakumari district. Though it is in the state of Tamil Nadu, the palace is under the control   of the Maharajah and so is the place where it is located as per GO.  It is about taking the idols from the temples in Kanykumari District to  Thiruvananthapuram  for Navaratri celebration and returning them to the respective abodes  in  TN.  It involves  crossing of the state border by the religious procession to Kerala and then back to Tamil Nadu.  This  deep-rooted faith  tand traditional ritual  has been  vogue for a long time. . 
Padmanabhapuram palace, Kerala.

Since 1015 (Malayalam era)  the festival has been  celebrated  without any pomp in the historical palace, the largest wooden structure in Asia.  The tradition has been that the deities from Tamil Nadu are taken to  Thiuvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala where the Maharajah  resides. The festival is held in the presence of the Maharajah  and the royal family members with devotion and dedication, without deviating from the age-old  tradition. During the Monarchy system prior to India's ndependence, the Tranvancore ruler ruled his subjects under the guidance of the deity, hence Padmanabha Swamy is the tutelary god of the royal family. 

Devotees in thousands  witness  the interesting ritual of handing over the sword of the erstwhile Maharajas of Travancore at the Maharaja’s wooden palace. an integral part of Navaratri celebration.. The sword kept in the  Upparika Malika in the palace, will be handed over to the  senior official of Hindu Religious and Endowment Board (HR & CE of Tamil Nadu govt.)  by Director of Archaeology  and Palace Superintendent.  Then, the sword will be handed over to the  representative of the Maharajah of Travancore  by Kerala Governor  in the presence of Minister for Dewaswom Board and Health  of Kerala.  This customary ritual takes place even to day with special care as the divinity is involved. The sword will be  taken to Padmanabhapuram Thevarkattu Saraswathi Amman Temple to be kept on the feet of the deity.

After a  special puja, the idol of Goddess Saraswati will be carried atop a  caparisoned tusker followed by the idols  of Velayutha Perumal (on a decorated silver horse - Velli kuthirai) from Velimalai Murugan Temple and the idol of Munnuthitha Nangai (on decorated a palanquin - pallakku) from Sthanumalayan Temple in Suchindram in palanquins to the palace. Here, after puja and prayer by the devotees  the religious procession  will begin its onward journey to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. - a three-day journey across 60km.  The idols are sent off   with a “guard of honor’’ by Kerala and Tamil Nadu police,

Navaratri Mandabam, Padmanabhapuram palace, Kerala.Zon

 In the afternoon, prior to the festival, the religious procession accompanied by music and drums will reach Karamana, a suburb of Thiruvananthapuram in the afternoon before beginning of festivities.  From here, the procession gains much importance and enters the East Gate where the head of the Travancore royal family will  worship  the idol. Here, the idol of Saraswati will be  alighted in order to be taken inside the The idol of Saraswati would be alighted and taken inside the Kuthiramalika palace, very close to the popular Padmanabha Swamy temple. As for other idols -  Velayudha Perumal   will be taken to  the Aryasala temple and  Munnuttinanka to the Chenthitta temple

In this ritual,  Goddess Munnuttinanka from Sthanumalaya temple, Sucheendram. together travel along with other idols  to Padmanabhapuram. The goddess  on a mission.; she  plays the role of  mediator and informs lord Padmanabha about how lord in love with Valli, a village lass. She was to settle the wedding of the celestial deities.

On the first day, the idol of Goddess Saraswati will be taken to a room at the southern end of Chokitta Mandapam for the ceremony of placing sacred granthas and weapons, including the Maharaja’s sword, at the feet of the idol for puja. The God is supposedly the divine ruler of the kingdom. 

Once  the 10-day festivities are over, the deities will be taken back  with reverence  to the respective temples in Kanyakumari district across the border.