Sri Naavaay Mugundha Perumal Temple, Thirunavaya, Kerala

 Sri Naavaay  Mugundha  Perumal Temple, Thirunavaya.

Sri Naavaay  Mugundha  Perumal Temple  near Thirunavaya, a village 8 km south of Tirur on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River in Malappuram district of  Kerala state, is  dedicated to lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe. It is about 32 km from the city of Kozhicode. The presiding deity  is  glorified by the famous Tamil saints Azhavars in their monumental  devotional work called Nalayera Divya Prabhandam - a popular Vaishanaya canon, consisting of  soul-stirring devotion hymns glorifying Lord Vishnu. The songs are commonly recited in  numerous  Vaishnava temples of Tamil Nadu as part of the temple ritual. This temple is considered as one among the 108 Divya Desam temples revered by the Azhavars.  This ancient temple is believed to have been managed, centuries ago, by Zamorin of Calicut (former King, ruler of Kozhicode and  other lands.

This place, earlier, known as Thirunavayogi as  nine saints (Nava Yogis) such as  Madhanga Nathar,  Aadhinathar, Korakkanatha, et al of Ayodhya
Pithrutharppanam at the ghats. Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda
had darshan of Lord Vishu in this punnya shetram; the name 
later changed into Thirunavaya. The temple is said to have been built by them 5000 years ago. Unfortunately this historical temple was damaged when Tipu Sultan of Mysore raided this part of Kerala in the 18th century and during the
Moplah  revolt of 1921.

The legend has it at this place both Goddess Lakshmi and Gajendra, the king of all elephants,  daily worshiped Lord Vishnu with  lotus flowers that blossomed  in a near-by lake. Both competed with the other in the worship of the lord and Goddess Lakshmi was dismayed at it. As  the time went by, the growth of lotus flowers began to dwindle since it happened to be the only source and consequently Gajendra had to be content with few  flowers for worship. At one stage Gajendra appealed to Lord Vishnu about his desire to continue his worship without shortage of lotus flowers. Upon his request, Lord Vishnu had Goddess Lakshmi  sit by his side on the throne, thus helping Gajendra to continue his prayers with limited supply of lotus flowers.
The main deity in the Srikovil (garbagraha) of this temple is Lord Nava Mukundan (Lord Vishnu), in a standing posture facing towards the east.An interesting fact about this temple is the main idol is the  ninth one  exhibited above the knee. Earlier, all the 8 idols  ceremoniously installed  disappeared without any trace. The 9th idol also sank up to the knee, but stopped forcefully, hence one can see the idol above the knee in the sanctum, the rest of the image being below  the ground. Further, there is believed to be a bottomless unexplored pit behind the image in the sanctum.The last idol was believed to have been  installed by Nava Yogis, hence the deity is called  Nava Mukundan. The  Sanctum (Srikovil) is designed in such a way that the rays of the sun fall directly on the idol in the months of April and October. The temple was recently renovated with meticulous care by skilled temple craftsmen. 

There is a separate shrine for Goddess, Malarmangai Nachiyaar (Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu). Since, the thaayar, Lakshmi Piratti doesn’t like  Gajendran worshiping the lord with  Lotus flowers (Malar), the thaayar is named as “Malar Mangai Naachiyaar. There are small shrines dedicated to Nava Yogis and lord Ganesa. The temple Theertham (Pushkarani) is referred to as Sengamala Saras Theertham on account of the presence of lots of lotus flowers.  
At Thirunavaya,  Mamankam festival - a cultural one is held once in every 12 years. Incidentally, it is altogether different from the famous Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu) Mahamaham (Mamangam) festival that is also held every 12 years.  The other important temple festivals are Vaikunda Ekadasi (Sorgavaasal Thirappu) - December/January, Annual Brahmotsavam - April
Krishna Jeyanthi - August/September and Navaratri  - September/October.

 It is strongly believed that a dip (snanam) in the bathing ghats of this temple in the Bharathapuzha and praying at the temple of Nava Mukundan will remove  the sins of the devotees. Also conducted at the bathing ghats are  'Bali Tharpanam' (Oblations) for  the departed souls (to get salvation) and 'Pithru Karmam' on 11th day or 16th day after death.  'Sradham' or the death anniversary is also conducted for the forefathers.

Aadi Sankaracharya is believed to have visited this temple and performed  'Pithru Karmam' at the ghats of the river close to this temple  for the salvation of his father.

Lord Parasurama  also performed 'Pithru Karmam'  here to get rid of his sins for having killed 'Khatriyas' and to get salvation for the departed souls.