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Cheerappanchira is an Ezhava tharavadu renowned for its Kalari in Muhamma, Alappuzha District. Cheerappanchira family, Mukkal Vettom Ayyappa Temple of the family and their Kalari, are as old as the mythology of Lord Ayyappan and his abode at Sabarimala. It is believed that Ayyappan was trained in this Kalari. Young Ayyappan was trained by Cheerappanchira Panicker and became the his most brilliant student. It is believed that one young girl of this family fell in love with the Lord and requested to accept her as wife. But Ayyappan turned down her request and to be a “Brahmachari”. Recently,[when?] the family Kalari was reopened and around 40 students are being trained in the martial art of Kalarippayattu.
Cheerappanchira were taught Kalari only to the people of karappuram area (place around Muhamma). Pandalam king approached the Mooppan (senior most member of the family) who was also asan, to teach Kalarippayattu to the Ayyappan. Having mastered this technique, Ayyappan, rushed to Pandalom on hearing the sudden attack on kingdom, virtually disappearing from Cheerappanchira. Before his departure he left behind his royal belongings to reveal his identity to his asan (guru). (His quarters at Cheerappanchira is maintained till date as Swami Mattom). On realizing the divine identity of Ayyappan, his earthly Guru started his annual pilgrimage to Sabarimal temple. On becoming old, when he was not able to make his annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, Ayyappan appeared in the dream of the saddened Guru and consoled him for his inability to take the annual pilgrimage. Ayyappan also instructed the Guru to construct a temple at Cheerappanchira, where he will reside with his full powers for three-quarters (which in Malayalam is Mukkal, hence the name Mukkal Vettam) of the year. He also informed that a log of sandalwood would appear against the flow of the waters at Vembanad Lake the next day, which should be used for constructing the temple. Folklore has it that the log of sandalwood appeared in the waters the next day and with which the Mukkal Vettam temple was built.
Sabarimala and Mukkal Vettom temples
Mukkal Vettom Ayyappa Temple was built by the Cheerappanchira Panicker in the tharavadu because the elders of the family were not able to go for pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The Lord himself was believed to have made arrangements for building up temple near to the hermitage for Kalari Guru.
The importance of the relation of these two ancient temples is evidenced by the Thirupattaya Charthu (the royal decree) of the Pandalam King, by which the right to conduct the fireworks offerings at Sabarimala was given to Cheerappanchira family. Till this date, people of old age and women who can't undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala come to this temple to offer their prayers on the belief that, by the darshan at Mukkal vettom, Ayyappan will shower the same blessings as the darsan at Sabarimala. In 2001, as instructed by the Ashtamangala Deva Prasnam, (the astrological findings) held at Sabarimala, Sabarimala temple authorities conducted special poojas and offerings as penance at this temple.
The 2012 release of Lord Ayyappa album of P. Unni Krishnan titled SABARIMALAI VA CHARANAM SOLLI VA has a special song called SABARINATHA CHARANAM SWAMI on Mukkal Vattam temple where he has referred the current head priest of this temple as from the vamsam of the Lord's Guru. It also refers to the Aravanapayasam which was supposed to have originated from here.
Swamy Muttom or Mutt
The Kudil (Hermitage) where Ayyappan lived during the period of his martial art training has been preserved in its original form by successive generations of the Cheerappanchira family. Sree Narayana Guru, during his visit to this family used this Kudil. Hence it has got the name Swamy Muttom.[clarification needed]
Sabari Mala Prasadam
A strong liking for sweets is a common factor of all Hindu Gods and Ayyappan is no exception. Appam and Aravana (Payasam made of rice, ghee and jaggery) are the prasadams of the Lord.
There is a mythical origin for the prasadams. Leela, the daughter of Kalari Panicker, fell in love with Ayyappan. She requested to accept her as wife. But Ayyappan turned down her request as being a Brahmachari. Soon she started bringing him food to capture his attention. When the girl reached puberty her family, following the Hindu tradition, prepared special cuisines to celebrate the occasion. One mandatory item on the menu is Rthumathikanji (porridge made using rice and five times the quantity of jaggery). She took this porridge to Ayyappan, who was practising payattu in the Kalari. He liked it very much and requested the girl to bring only the porridge everyday. It is believed[who?] that the practice of offering Aravana as prasadam to the God was born from this incident.