Vamana (Vamanamoorthy) temple, Thrikkakara, Kerala - mythologically linked to Onam festival

 Vamana(Vamanamoorthy) temple,Thrikkakara, KE

Above image: Vamana (Vamanamoorthy) temple, Thrikkakara, Kerala. Only temple in Kerala dedicated to god Vamana -the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Onam festival is a major event here and every year about 10000 people attend the feast Thiruonasadya hosted by the temple. Further, every month, up to 150 devotees turn up for the sadya which is served here on a banana leaf. As for the Onam feast, the number may go up in the future, Onam, being a harvest festival, people of Thrikkakara begin their annual celebrations on the day of ‘uthradam’ by lighting a special oil lamp and keeping the paddy grains in a bowl in the courtyard or some other place. The patriarch of the family will light  the onavilakku in the morning on the day of feast.......

 Vamana (Vamanamoorthy) temple,

There are a few Hindu temples dedicated to  Vamanamoorthy (also referred to as Vamana), an incarnation of God Vishnu in India.  Located in  Thrikkakara  near the 'Kapilatheertham, close to Kochi,  this place is the origin of the famous Onam festival that falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September).  Though the origin of the Vamanamoorthy temple is not known, historians say it  may be linked to the reign of  Chera Kings. The belief has been that king  Mahabali, on his annual trip to Kerala, arrives at Thrikkakara first. The temple, being pretty old, is one among the 108  Divyadesam shrines  glorified by the Tamil Azhwar saints  of 5th to 10th CE in their  divine work Naalayeera Divya Prabandham. Lord Parashurama is said to have established the temple.

oil lamps, Vamanamoorthy temple, Thrikkakara

This temple becomes a hive of activities during the Onam festival and  the most important  event here is  the Onam feast in which people of all castes, religions happily participate.  Thiruonasadya is a symbol of civility, communal harmony and equality. The hall mark of this feast  is the promotion of good will and amity among various communities living here. This temple is a center of cultural  activities  during the festival time. Several cultural arts such as Chakyar Koothu,  Kathakali, etc., besides musical performances such as Panchavadyam, etc will entertain the people. Bhagavati, Sasthavu, Gopalakrishna, Nāga, Brahmarakshasa and Yakshi are the sub-deities  at this temple. 

Location map. Thrikkakara

During the illegal occupation of this land  by Marthandaverma  in collusion with the English company,  the Maharaja of Travancore and 61 Naduvazhis (local rulers)  never broke the continuity of the Onam festival  and organized it with more vigor than ever before. During the Chera reign the Onam festival was a 28 -day event attended by as many as 56 local chieftains who made offerings to the temple, according to a historian. The tradition continues today and the devotees present their offerings to the deity during ‘Thirumulkaazhcha samarpanam’ on the day of Uthradam.

Thrikkakara  temple, Kerala.

Enshrined in the Srikovil - garbagriha of  the temple is an idol of Vamana  preparing to place his foot on the Brahmin Asura King Mahabali.   Old temple records made  a reference to the celebration of the Onam festival dating back to 861 CE. There are 17 ancient inscriptions in the 'vattezhuthu' script in Tamil language linking this temple with Onam and mendicant god Vamana.   At this  temple being managed by  the Travancore Devaswom Board,  besides Onam, Vishu, Makara Sankranti, Navarathri and Saraswati Puja are major festivals held with devotion. 

As in many temples of Kerala,  there is a series  of thousands of oil  lamps  around  the shrine called Chuttuvilakku  fixed on the inner complex walls and they will be lit on the days of festivities and on certain days. Sometimes ardent devotees will sponsor the lighting of all lamps and will bear the cost of oil, etc. This is done as part of their prayer to God.   

It is believed that the place where the temple stands is the spot from where  the king Mahabali is said to have been sent to the netherworld Patala by  god Vamana, hence marking the genesis of the Onam festival. The etymologically  the name Thrikkakara implies 'Thiru-kaal-kara' meaning 'place of the holy foot.

As in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere, the festival will begin with the hoisting of temple flag on the Dwajasthanbham (flag pole). This will be done on the first day - Atham by the priests with certain pooja rituals and Aarti. It is called   Kodiyettu - it is a symbolic gesture of welcoming  the Asura king Mahabali. The flag will be lowered  reverentially on the final day i.e 10th day of the festivity  and the processional idol will be taken on an elephant to the near-by river or any water body for bathing and this ritual is called, Aarattu ritual (Theerthavari in Tamil Naduquite common across Kerala   

During Onam  each day the  decorated idol will appear in one of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu. The famous decoration of Vamana here is called   Chaarthu,  using mainly sandalwood paste, ornaments and clothing. 

One day before the final day, a grand procession called  the Pakalpooram is  held during the evening and the same is held on the 10th day called  Seeveli.  Pakalpooram begins with Mahabali ‘ethirelp’ where Mahabali is welcomed - symbolic of God himself welcoming the king.  A caparisoned elephant will carry the idol of Vamana along with other 8 caparisoned elephants around the shrine with in the temple premises accompanied by Panchavadyam.  After pausing at each entrance gate finally the idol will be taken back to the inner sanctum. This ritualistic procession is common in many temples including at Sri Guruvayurappan temple

 The Shiva temple behind the Vamanamuthy temple houses idols of the deities Shiva, Ganesha, Karthikeya and Durga.