Friday, December 29, 2006

Sri Munnodi Devasthanam

Sri Munnodi Devasthanam A temple with a mission

Built very near to the Sea shore of Alappuzha town, this temple excels the other ones in grandeur. Situated in a backward area ( Kanjiramchira ) Sri Munnodi Devasthanam ( popularly known as Munnodi temple) has got a big mission to fulfill. It is built and exists for the well being of a people who are in urgent need of physical as well as spiritual awakening.

One of the most beautifully built temples in Kerala; Munnodi temple towers around in a landscape which is scattered with small hutments of poor fisher folks. This temple adds charm to the entire area which would have been other wise an ordinary fishermen’s village in the other parts of Kerala.

Sri Munnodi temple accommodates two deities, Goddess Sri Durga and Goddess Bhadrakali. Installation of the deities was made on “Kumbham 22nd (March 6 2006) under the auspices of brahmasree Puthmana Sreedharn Nampoothiri and the “sthapathi” was Sri Gopalan Achari. It is an established fact that a temple has a great role in the prosperity of the immediate surroundings. A temple if well kept and well functioned brings prosperity to the entire region.

About the original old temple

The coastal area from Alappuzha to Thumpoly was previously known by the name Karangattussery. This name gradually became to be known as Kanjiramchira. The ancient temple with Khandakarnan (Lord Siva) as deity was supposed to be the spiritual centre of this entire area. This ancient temple was known as “Thrikkanna Swami Kshethram. It had seven small subtemples (chuttampalam) around.

The mythology behind the old temple

While life at Karangattussery the old fishermen’s village was limping as usual, it so happened that on his way to pilgrimage a Brahmin took rest beneath a banyan tree which stood at this place. The simple fisher folks assembled around him as a sanyasi was a rare sight in this remote fishermen’s village. The learned Brahmin had some discussions with the simple fisher folks who assembled around.

As news spread of the arrival of a great sanyasi people flocked around him with their grievances, and as a learned man he used to give them advices based on the old scriptures. The man decided to stay in this place as per the request of the people. But the absence of a temple was a serious problem to this man who was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva.

He suggested an idea of building a temple there. The fisherfolks of that locality by that time began to see a spiritual leader in this man. They were only too happy to co operate. Within a short time a temple with seven small chuttamapalams were built. And the Brahmin assumed as the Poojari (one who performs the rituals) of the temple.

This Brahmin later married a girl from the locality, and lived there as a spiritual guru to the poor people who needed the guidance of a learned man. His advices lead the people to live in perfect harmony. Peace and prosperity prevailed in this region.

The Brahmin unexpectedly passed away due some illness, leaving the community and his family back in to the dark times before his arrival. The old man who was very popular before his death was addressed as “Munnodi Appooppan” by the people (meaning old grand father). People began to see him in their dreams.

Due to poverty, they were even unable to light the lamps of the temple which was gradually getting dilapidated. The temple which was located very near to the seashore got swallowed by the sea. All these happened before four centuries back.

“Munnody appan” is an ancient myth of the Araya community. They used to believe that by pleasing Munnodiappan, they would get good catch of fish. The Brahmin who passed away was believed to possess the soul of Munnodiappan and he began to be worshipped in that name “Munnodi Appooppan”

When the Sea receded, by the beginning of the 19th century people identified the position of the old temple. They planted a banyan where the old tree stood and started to light a lamp in the position of the old temple every day evening.

One day a Christian lady had seen this old man in her dream and as if in a trance she woke up and walked to the Seashore. There they found a shaped stone and brought it to the location to be installed as the idol. At first the temple was a thatched shed made out of one hundred coconut leaves. From the state of a thatched shed this modern temple has traveled a long way to become the most beautiful one in Kerala.

Mythology behind the new temple

While the new temple was functioning in the thatched shed in a very simple way, Sreekumaran a devotee of Goddess Bhadrakali had a dream in the early morning (Brahma Muhurtham). He woke up and walked towards the sea shore as if directed by an unknown power.

There he could see a very incredible sight, two goddesses standing in the seashore with a welcome smile. One was Goddess Durga and the other Goddesses Bhadrakali. They introduced themselves to the poor man who was in a confused state and revealed to him the fact that both of them are one and the same and they wished to be installed in a temple at that shore itself. Srikunaran who was awestruck when opened his eyes saw only an idol made of stone. When he got his consciousness back could understand what has happened. He took the stone idol to the temple. The idol was installed in the temple as per the directions contained in the scriptures. The installation was done on the auspicious Muhurtam with “pooram” star sign. There after this temple and its surroundings have seen quantum jump in prosperity.

At present the temple is managed by a committee consisting of ten members. The committee is elected by the council of devotees and functions as per the wish and directions of the Devotees’ council; The responsibility of the committee is not limited in keeping the temple in ship shape and administering the rituals with extreme care. The fisher folk, who live around the temple, live a life of misery they find it difficult to meet their day to day life as the income from fishing is unpredictable. They pitch high hopes on the temple to fulfill their long cherished wishes.

The people so far lived a fatalistic life style and did not care going to the temple or observing rituals. They had to be persuaded to visit the temple and spirituality had to be brought in to them. This was the real task before them which was not an easy thing at all. Building a temple is easier than building spirituality and trust in god among people who are poverty stricken and not literate enough to read scriptures. The temple authorities, being aware of its scope as well as limitations is trying its level best to live up to the expectations of the people who have nothing else to lean upon. The main problems identified with this are poverty and unemployment.

Owning and operating a fleet of taxi vehicles is a non traditional field in which the temple authorities has made a mark, these operations give jobs to a lot of people around and enable them to earn a steady income. The fisher folk who were exploited by the money lenders for generations had been relieved to by the financial packages offered by the temple. Munnodi Devasthanam is working for the betterment of a society around. It serves free meals to all the devotees every day. The people who were so far ignorant of what spirituality is have to be educated. The temple conducts spiritual discourses by well known gurus regularly for this purpose.

Now the devotees are being taught how to attain spirituality by leading a prosperous and promising life. This temple is with a mission, a mission of aligning spiritual progress with that of physical well being.

May god bless this temple to attain even more!

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