Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
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|Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple|
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The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple is one of the "Divya Desams", the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars located near Aranmula, a village in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, South India.
The temple is dedicated to Parthasarathy, Lord Krishna's role as Arjuna's Charioteer in the Mahabharatha war. The temple is on the left bank of the Pampa River. The sacred jewels of Ayyappan (Thiruvabharanam) are taken in procession to Sabarimalai each year from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Also, the Thanka Anki (golden attire) for Ayyappa, donated by the king of Travancore, is stored here and taken to Shabarimala during the Mandala season (late December). Aranmula is also known for the watersports involving a spectacular procession of snake boats. It is also linked with legends from the Mahabharata.
Also, it is one of the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, connected with the Mahabharata. The Thrichittat templeChengannur is related to Yuddhishtra; the Tiruppuliyur temple to Bheema; Aranmula to Arjuna; thiruvanvandoor to Nakula and Tirukkadittaanam to Sahadeva). It has been glorified by the Tamil hymns of Nammalwar of the 1st millennium CE.
The temple has four towers over its entrances on its outer wall. The eastern tower is accessed through a flight of 18 steps. Descending 57 steps through the northern tower, one can reach the Pampa River.
Legend has it that the Pandava princes, after crowning Parikshit left on a pilgrimage of India, and in Kerala, each of these brothers installed Vishnu on the banks of the Pampa and nearby places and offered worship. (Chengannur,Thrichittattu - Yuddhishtra, Tiruppuliyur - Bheema, Aranmula - Arjuna, Thiruvanvandur - Nakula and Tirukkodithanam - Sahadeva). It is said that Arjuna built this temple at Nilackal near Sabarimalai. and the image was brought here in a raft made of six pieces of bamboo to this site, and hence the name Aranmula (six pieces of bamboo).
Legend has it that Arjuna built this temple, to expiate for the sin of having killed Karna on the battlefield, against the dharma of killing an unarmed enemy. It is also believed that Vishnu (here) revealed the knowledge of creation to Bhrama, from whom the Madhukaitapa demons stole the Vedas.
There is yet another legend associated with Parthasarathy here. On the ninth day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas reigned supreme under the leadership of Bheeshma, when Krishna motivated Arjuna to take initiative and vanquish his foe. Upon his hesitating to do so, Krishna jumped down in rage, and took up his discus; seeing this sight Bheeshma surrendered to him and Arjuna beseeched him not to kill Bheeshma, as it would have been against Krishna's vow to take up arms in his battle. It is believed that it is this image of Krishna that is enshrined here, with a discus. Aranmula Mirror is also very much related to the history of this temple
The water carnivals taking place at the temple include a boat race during the Onam season. A tradition of sending an offering of rice and other material required for a feast from a nearby village, on a waterboat relates to the origin of this festival and this tradition is continued even today (this is related to a legend in which a devotee fed a hungry pilgrim, who directed him to send food to Aranmula and disappeared, revealing that he was none other than Vishnu).
Snake boats accompany the sacred boat. The boat race: Snake boats from 39 Karas[disambiguation needed] from Chennithala in the west to Ranni in the east participate in the watersport Vallomkali. These boats assemble at dawn and sail in pairs for about 2 hours. A snake boat is about 103 feet in length. Each boat has about 4 helmsmen 100 rowers and 25 singers. After the watersport there is an elaborate feast in the Aranmula temple.
Another festival celebrated here is the Khandavanadahanam celebrated in the Malayalam month of Dhanus. For this festival, a replica of a forest is created in front of the temple with dried plants, leaves and twigs. This bonfire is lit, symbolic of the Khandavana forest fire of the Mahabharata.
The Malayalam month of Meenam witnesses a festival where Aranmula Parthasarathy is taken in a grand procession on the garuda mount to the Pampa river bank, where an image of the Bhagawati from the nearby Punnamthode temple is brought in procession for the arattu festival.
Fasting on thiruvonam related to aranmula temple- The heads of three Brahmin households in Aranmula and nearby Nedumprayar follow a tradition of fasting on Thiruvonam as atonement for a ‘sin.’ The tradition reportedly dates back to more than two centuries.
Parameswaran Namboodiri of Cherukara Illam at Nedumprayar,Kunjunni Moosad of Aranmula Puthezhathu Illom and Subrahmaniyan Moosad of Aranmula Thekkedathu Illom have been observing the tradition for the past three decades.
Cherukara Illam is said to be the owner (‘ooralars’) of the Sree Parthasarathy Temple.Puthezhathu and Thekkedathu are said to be the 'karanmas' of the temple. These Brahmin households owned vast tracts of land that spread across many surrounding villages. The myth is that a poor, low caste woman approached the landlords of Aranmula, seeking alms, during a harvest period when the paddy was being measured. She waited for a long while, but the landlords ignored her. The woman starved through the day and was found dead in the field the next morning. Thereafter, misfortunes befell Aranmula and the landlords. An astrological consultation revealed that a divine curse was put on the landlords. It suggested that the eldest member of the Brahmin households should not consume food or water on Thiruvonam. A feast should be given to the public every year for expiation of the sin.
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