Mannarasala Temple is devoted to serpent worship. It is located near Haripad, 32 km south of Alappuzha,14km from kayamkulam,115 km from Cochin International Airport and 125 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, Kerala. In this temple, the rites are presided over by a priestess. The temple covers an area of 16 acres of dense green forest grove. The two main idols are Nagaraja or the serpent king and his consort, Sarpayakshini. The most popular offering of this temple is ‘Uruli Kamazhthal’, the placing of a bell metal vessel upside down in front of the deity, which is believed to restore fertility to childless couples. Mannarasala
Though the legends related to the origin of a place cannot be deemed as its history, the story on the evolution of Mannarasala as the supreme place of worship of the serpent Gods is associated with Parasurama, the creator of Kerala. The history of Mannarasala has been mentioned in the ‘Mandara Salodayam‘ Sanskrit poem written by Mannarasala M.G.Narayanan Nampoodiri of the sacred family, who wrote it on the basis of reliable accounts and legends traditionally handed down and in the light of old books available with the temple. Since the poem was incomplete, the history narrated here is from the book ‘The Serpent Temple Mannarasala’, published by Mr.N.Jayadevan of Manasa Publications (Translated to English by the renowned scholar Dr.Ayyappa Panikker). This book is also based on the advice and instructions received from the former Great Mother, and in accordance with the other members of the family as well as the old records examined for the purpose.
Mannarasala Festival (utsavam)
In olden time every Hindu family in Kerala has a serpent-grove. Mannarsala, situated to the north-west of Sri. Subramanyaswamy temple, Haripad, is the seat of the famous temple of Nagaraja (God of serpents), the largest of its kind in Kerala. Built in a grove the temple is reputed for having 30,000 images of snake-Gods. On the day of Ayilliam asterism in the months of Kanni and Thulam (September and October), all the serpent idols in the grove and the temple are taken in procession to the illam (family connected with the temple) where the offerings of Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice are made. The oldest female member of the family carries the idol of the Nagaraja and the procession is conducted with great pomp and rejoicing. Even if married, the eldest female member of the illam, is expected to lead a life of abstinence when she becomes the oldest female in the family. During the festival days thousands of people assemble at Mannarasala to worship and propitiate the serpent gods. The offerings include coins and effigies made of gold, silver and copper, grains of all kinds, pepper, tender coconuts, plantains, melons, sandalwood etc. On Ayilliam days the Pulluvans sing and dance either on their own or for payment. Mannarasala became the pilgrim attraction.
The Ayilyam day in Tulam, Kanni and Kumbham months in the Malayalam calendar and the Mahasivarathri are celebrated here with great pomp. The Ayilyam in Kanni is the birthday of Nagaraja and that in Kumbham is the birthday of Anantha, the Muthassan of Nilavara (cellar).
The most celebrated festival at Mannarassala is the Ayilyam of Thulam. In the beginning, the Ayilyam of Thulam had no speciality or importance. It was a regular custom for the Maharaja of Travancore to visit this temple on Ayilyam day in Kanni. On one occasion, the Maharaja could not reach the temple as usual and had to postpone the visit to the Ayilyam day in Thulam. The royal palace met all the expenses for the celebrations of that Ayilyam.Several landed properties were given away to the temple free of land tax in order to make the festival more attractive, as an expression of repentance. Thus the Ayilyam of Thulam came to secure a royal splendor and official glamour without difficulty. The Ayilyam days of Kanni and Kumbham are still celebrated with befitting grandeur.
The presiding deity at Mannarasala is Nagaraja. He is Anantha (Vishnu) and Sarparaja is Vasuki (Siva). It is believed that Nagaraja, as the installed deity, is endowed with the form of Vishnu and the spirit of Siva. (From the phenomena observed at the time of the installation the power of Vasuki was manifested and that of Anantha interiorized. Taking into account the power of Vasuki which was manifest; the Saivite form of worship was followed. (This may be reason for the magnificent procession taken out here on Mahasivaratri day). Anantha represents the ‘Vaishnava Sankalpa‘ and Siva represents the ‘Siavaite Sankalpa’.
Sarpayakshi & Nagayakshi
Sarpayakshi and Nagayakshi are the beloved consorts of Nagaraja. The main temple premise has two separate sanctum sanctorums, one devoted to Sarpayakshi and the other for Nagaraja. Sarpayakshi enjoys special privileges like offering daily poojas, and is housed in the Sanctum Sanctorum. In front of the shrine of Sarpayakshi, there is an Ilanji tree (Mimusops Elengi) surrounded by serpent images and with numerous pits for serpents. The quiet shrines of Nagachamundi and Nagayakshi are to the south-west of the temple and housed in Chitrakudas. Nagachamundi is Nagaraja’s sister.
On the eastern side of the temple, songs are recited to please the serpents. The magical, sweetness of the Pulluvan song accompanied by the sounds from the little Veenas and the special music of the Pulluva women playing on Kudam are a familiar sight at Mannarasala. Interestingly, this near extinct musical form is still being practiced in Kerala, thanks only to the patronage offered by Mannarasala and other few serpent worship temples in Kerala. Pulluva is a community of the Hindu religion, and they traditionally follow this musical form as their vocation. It is believed that the songs, recited by the Pulluva praising the Nagaraja and his consorts, the sound of the musical instrument Pulluva Veena ( an instrument of the violin family), and Kudam (an expertly covered earthen pot connected with strings, when hit by hand or metal piece produces exquisite and enchanting music), have the divine power to appease and attract divine serpents and earn their blessings. Now people with expertise in handling these musical instruments are very rare even among the Pulluva community.
On either side of the pathway from the temple premises to Nilavara, there are many big and small Chitrakudas encircled by images of serpents, standing upright, and arranged so close to one another in unbroken rows inside the groves on either side. Inside those Chitrakudas are the innocent and helpless followers of Nagaraja. Until a few decades ago, almost all Hindu households in Kerala had their own serpent groves and ponds as part of their idol worship, also lending a perfect balance to the ecology of the region. Once the population grew manifolds, many serpent groves were removed, and most of the presiding serpent deities were relocated to divine serpent lands like Mannarasala. These strange rows of Chitrakudas are the miniature establishments of the serpents who from their groves in other places and have been brought over and installed here by the blessed priests of Mannarasala Illam.
Mannarasala Temple Timings
Valia Amma has a special pattern of pooja everyday, and she must perform pooja in the sanctum sanctorum itself on certain days like :-
- On the first day of every month, malayalam calendar
- On the day of Pooyam star each month, malayalam calendar.
- From the beginning of Magha to the eve of Sivaratri.
- Thiruvonam in the month of Chingam.
- From the 1st to the `12th of Karkitakam.
- Twelve days before Ayilyam in Kanni and Tulam.
- On the Ayilyam day of every month: the special Nurum Palum in front of Nilavara at the Illam.
- On Sivaratri day; Sarpabali in the temple.
- On the day after Sivaratri: Nurum Palum in Nilavara and Appooppan Kavu.
Mannarasala Offerings- details
1. Sarpabali * – Rs. 15,001/-
2. Nurum Palu** – Rs.172/-
3. Naurum Palu* – Rs.101/-
4. Muzhukkappu* – Rs.751/-
5. Enna Abhizhekam(oil) – Rs.10/-
6. Dhara* – Rs.10/-
7. Neyyabhizhekam (ghee) – Rs. 25/-
8. Tender coconut abhizhekam- Rs. 5/-
9. Palabhizhekam – Rs.10/-
10. Sahasranamarchana – Rs.10/-
11. Mrithyunjayarchana – Rs.15/-
12. Ashtotharasatham Archana -Rs.5/-
13. Archana – Rs.3/-
14. Palumapazhavum Nivedyam -Rs.5/-
15. Malar Nivedyam – Rs.3/-
16. Kadalippazha Nivedyam -Rs.5/-
17. Nilavara Payasam – Rs.20/-
18. Payasam – Rs.5/-
19. Palpayasam* – Rs.15/-
20. Appam * – Rs.25/-
21. EnnaVilakku – Rs.5/-
22. Neyyu Villakku – Rs.10/-
23. Mala – Rs.3/-
24. Uruli kamazhthu – Rs.25/-
25. Urulinivarppu – Rs.25/-
26. Urulinadakku veypu – Rs.25/-
27. Annaprasam – Rs.9/-
28. Thulabharam – Rs.10/-
29. Sarppaprathima Nadakku Veypu -Rs. 7.50/-
30. One day puja* – Rs.751/-
31. Ganapathi Homam* – Rs.25/-
32. Bhagavathiseva* – Rs.251/-
33. Wedding* – Rs.65/-
34. Thrimadhuram – Rs.3/-
35. Chathussatha Nivedyam* – Rs. 2501/-
** It is mandatory to produce ‘prashnacharthu‘ (directions from experts) for performing the Nurum Palum for sarppahimsa and eliminating sarppasthanam.
It is mandatory to book in advance for the offerings with the star mark *.
It is advised to source pooja materials like salt, turmeric, puttu (abode of serpents), Sarppavigraham, Uruli etc. from the outlet of Devaswom.
Sarppavigraham, Mutta ( egg), Puttu etc. should be made only of any four metals like Gold, Silver, Iron or brass.
D.D./ or Money Order should for any offering should be addressed as –
Pin : 690550.