Sree Poornathrayesa temple of Tripunithura - a fascinating temple with lots of festivities

Poornathrayeesa temple,

Above image: In the last two yeras, the temple festivals are low-key affairs on account of COVID -19. 

Poornathrayeesa temple, Kerala

Sree Poornathrayesa temple of  Tripunithura, Kochi is a popular Hindu  temple in Kerala state and it has the unique distinction of being the first among eight royal temples of the erstwhile Kochi Kingdom. Lord Vishnu, the primary god of this temple is the tutelary  deity of the Royal family of Kochi. In this temple he is in the form of  Santhanagopala and often known as Poornathrayeesa meaning fond of elephants. 

.Poornathrayeesa temple, Kerala

In the famous annual festival or utchavam of this temple the Vrishchikoltsawam, it is said, more than  40 elephants actively participate.  Celebrated in the month of  Vrishchikam (November–December) lots of elephants are sent by owners free of  fees  to participate in the  temple  festival.  A 8-day festival,  events  take place day and night  for 7 days and they include  Ottan Thullal, Kathakali, thayambaka, Chenda melam, katcheri, maddala ppattu, kombu pattu, and kuzhal pattu, etc  all are native to Kerala. .

As the god happens to be the guardian deity of the ex ruling class of Kochi, extra  significance is given to this famous festival which is said to be the biggest in the world, followed by  Koodalmanikyam  ulsavam of Iringalakkuda. What about Thrissur poorum? it is not a temple festival.

.Poornathrayeesa temple, Kerala

Tradition has been that as the presiding deity is Santhna Gopala Krishna,  if childless couples visit the temple and pray to the deity with trust and devotion, they will be blessed with  a child. This reminds me of the   famous Mannargudi Rajagopala Swamy temple, in Thruvarur district of  Tamil Nadu. Here childless couples are  advised by the priests (Bhattacharyas) to carry the small idol of Santhana Gopla Krishnan in their hand jointly. The Ithegam is the God will bless them with a baby. 

The legend has  it  the idol of  Poornathrayeesa was given to Arjnuna (one of  Pandava brothes of the Mahabharata) by God Vishnu. Because of Arjuna's association with this temple, the Srikovil/garbagriha has a unique shape - in the form of a chariot.  Arjuna used the mustard seeds  from the plants grown in the surrounding forest to  get oil for  lamps. A Valia Vilakku is  in front of the idol  and  the burnt oil of this lamp has medicinal properties according to a local belief.  

 The moolavar (original idol) was originally  in  near-by Poonithura Sree Krishna Temple, . and the then ruler  shifted the deity from there to the present location for unknown reason.  The original design of this temple was according to native design and in 1920 a major fire mishap ravaged much of the temple, particularly the sanctum/ Srikovil mostly made of wood. 

The  temple  was rebuilt  in concrete, a departure from traditional  method. The architect was one Sri Eachara Warrier, quite popular in this part. To make it look like a traditional design   the temple was carefully covered  with copper plates, wooden panels and granite tiles. The walls of srikovil are  covered with large brass sheets with images of gods and goddesses;  the roof is laid with copper sheets. A note worthy feature that is rare in many temples  of Kerala and other parts of south India is the entrance to the sanctum which is covered with gold sheets.   This temple with  two-story  gouram has  a mantap supported  by eight carved wooden pillars.

As for temple festivals there are  many interesting ones. Mention may be made of  Ambalam Kathi Utsavam  (Thulam month) to recall the mire accident that took place in the past. After  the evening deeparadhana,  before lots of devotees   a lump of camphor is lit all over the temple Besides Vrishchikolsavam, other festivities are he birthday of Sree Poornathrayeesha  in "Uthram" Nakshathra of the Malayalam month Kumbham (February–March),  Para Utsavam, where people give special offerings to the temple, Mooshari Utsavam (Aug. Sept.), Lakshmi Naryana Vilakku, Uthram Vilakku and Thulam Ombath Utsavam.