Popular Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple, Kerala built by Cheraman Perumal follows Tantric worship,!

 Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple, also known as Kodungallur Devi Temple, is a revered Hindu temple in Kodungallur, Thrissur District, Kerala, India. Dedicated to the goddess Bhadrakali, a fierce form of Mahakali or Durga, this temple holds immense significance in Kerala. The goddess is also known as "Sri Kurumba" (The Mother of Kodungallur) and is regarded as the head of 64 Bhadrakali temples in Kerala. As one of the oldest functioning temples in India, it embodies ancient Shaktyeism customs rarely seen in contemporary temples.

Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple, Kodungallur,Kerala 
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Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple, Kodungallur,Kerala  hlimg.com

The deity of the temple, Bhadrakali, is depicted in her fierce ('ugra') form, facing north with eight hands, each holding a significant attribute: a demon king Daruka's head, a sickle-shaped sword, an anklet, a bell, among others. The temple’s daily worship begins at 3:00 AM and concludes at 9:00 PM.

Kodungallur temple, oil lamp-velakku worship, Kerala  saasj.co.   

Sri Kodungalluramma Bhagavathy,Kerala  pinimg.com

Historically, this temple built by Cheraman Perumal  is believed to have been a Shiva shrine in its early days. According to legend, it was Parasurama who installed the idol of Bhadrakali next to the Shiva idol. Pujas are conducted under the direct instructions of the goddess herself. Five 'Sri Chakras', installed by Adi Shankaracharya, are considered the main source of the deity’s power. The priests, known as Adikals, have the exclusive right to perform 'Pushpanjalis' to the goddess. The first Shakteya Pooja in the temple was performed by a Thiyyar from Malabar.

Kannaki Amman, the heroine of great Tamil Scholar Ilango Adigal's SDangam period Tamil epic "Silappathikaram," is said to have attained salvation at this temple. She prayed to Bhadrakali and became absorbed in the deity’s idol. The temple's construction is attributed to Cheraman Perumal, the ruler of the Chera dynasty.

The temple follows the Tantric "Rurujit Vidhaana" pattern of installation, with Shiva at one end, Ganesha at the other, and the Sapta Matrika goddesses in between. In ancient times, animal sacrifices, mostly birds and goats, were offered by devotees seeking protection and fulfillment of their prayers. However, due to the intervention of social reformers, animal sacrifices have been banned, and devotees now offer red-dyed dhotis instead. The temple, surrounded by ten acres of land with banyan and peepal trees, has a srikovil facing north. The western chamber houses the Sapthamatrukas (Seven Mothers) and idols of Ganapathi and Veerabhadra. The seven-foot-high idol of Bhadrakali is carved from the wood of a jackfruit tree and features eight arms.

Adjacent to the temple is a small stone structure called 'the Samadhi of Vysoori,' a shrine for a deity of contagious diseases like smallpox and chickenpox. Devotees offer turmeric powder at this shrine. About fifty meters away is a sacred pond (Pushkarini), where devotees bathe before entering the main shrine. The pond is believed to have been created by the goddess herself.

The Bharani festival, one of Kerala's major festivals, is celebrated at the temple. It spans a month from the Bharani asterism in Kumbham to seven days after the Bharani asterism in Meenam, typically falling between March and April. The festival starts with the ritual 'Kozhikkallu moodal,' which traditionally involved the sacrifice of cocks. Today, only red clothes are offered. Another major ritual is 'Kavu Theendal' or 'Kavu Pookal,' where devotees run around the temple with sticks, commemorating the slaying of the demon Daruka. Vellichapads (oracles of the goddess) participate in a trance state, wielding sickle-shaped swords and shouting abusive cries to please the goddess, followed by a purification ceremony.

The Thalappoli festival, celebrated in Makaram (January–February), involves a four-day celebration starting from Makara Sankranthi. Richly caparisoned elephants lead processions accompanied by traditional music. The Kudumbi community plays a significant role in the rituals, offering poojas and distributing a mixture of rice flakes, jaggery, and coconut among devotees.

Sree Kurumba Bhagavati Temple stands as a good example  of Kerala's rich spiritual heritage and unique Tantric worship, attracting devotees from far and wide who seek the blessings of the fierce and powerful goddess Bhadrakali. Her worship is widespread across India, more so in West Bengal.