Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple is a very ancient and internationally known centre of pilgrimage for the devotees of serpent gods (Nagaraja). The famous Nagaraja temple “Mannarasala” is nestled in a forest glade, like most snake temples. The Mannarasala Temple has over 30,000 images of snakes along the paths and among the trees, and is the largest such temple in Kerala. Women seeking fertility come to worship here, and upon the birth of their child come to hold thanksgiving ceremonies here, often bringing new snake images as offerings.A special turmeric paste which is available at the temple is credited with curative powers.
Though the legends related to the origin of a place cannot be deemed as its history, the story on the evolution of Mannarasala as one of the foremost places of worship of the Serpent Gods is associated with Lord Parashurama who is widely believed to be the creator of Kerala. This history of Mannarasala has been mentioned in the ‘Mandara Salodyam’, a Sanskrit poem written by Mannarasala M.G. Narayanan Namboodiri of the sacred family based on the accounts and legends handed down and old scriptures and books available with the temple.
Mannarasala Amma (The Great Hermitess)
The beliefs and rituals associated with the Mannarasala temple are different from most other temples, and this is one rare temples where the puja pattern is headed by a Brahmin lady. Legends say that when the Muthassan left for the Cellar (More details in History), he had given certain rights and instructions to his mother. He instructed that ‘Mother herself must offer me worship. On certain special days men may be given a chance to worship. After Mother’s time, the senior-most Brahmin lady in the family will have the status of the Mother. From the time the mother assumes this high position Mother should live as a brahmacharini and observe penance. Those who worship me with devotion will have children, will be cured of diseases, will have long life and health and wealth; the men of the family will have the title of ‘Vasukisridevi”. He reminded that the rituals and customs suggested by Parasurama are inviolable.
Valia Amma is the heart and soul of Mannarasala. The resplendent brightness of Valia Amma who has turned into a symbol of Naga deities through fasting and other austerities has not dimmed in the least by now as a result of the performance of rituals and poojas. Pilgrims cannot leave Mannarasala without seeing that fascinating divine glow with their own eyes and feeling contended. The sight of faithful devotees, who come here to seek the blessings of Nagaraja, waiting for long to see the flicker of the eyes of the great mother, so serene and compassionate and filled with blessings, continues even today. That holy lamp sheds brilliant light on the temple and the environment, and endows it with heavenly glory. It has been the presence of and the contact with, the Mother, who has assumed a divine form and reached the heights of spirituality, that has been the sole source of prosperity for the members of the family as for the
Valia Amma’s pooja pattern
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.
When Valia Amma attains Samadhi
When the earthly life of a Valia Amma ends, the ceremony of cremation is different from that of other family members. The dead body is placed in the four-chambered house of the illam. (The ‘Samadhi’ itself will be in the southern hall of the four-chambered building). The cremation is held in a particular place between the temple and the Illam. During these days, only milk and fruit will be offered in the temple ( After offering nivedyam the door will be closed immediately and will be opened the next day; on that day also it will be closed as on the day before. The mourning goes on like this for three days).
Former Valia Amma
The former Valia Amma, who attained Samadhi on 24th October 1993, had a long and expert experience in Nagapooja, and was a great hermitess; a brahmacharini. When she attained Samadhi at the age of 91, she had completed many decades as Valia Amma. She, Savitri Antharjanam, was born on Anizham Star in the Month of Tulam 1079, and her wedding was on 18th of Chingam 1092. She assumed the position of Valia Amma on 28th Tulam 1093 and started Nagaraja pooja on 23rd Makaram 1094. Her Satabhishekam (Celebrations for completing 80 years of age) was celebrated with great pomp and splendor on 4th November 1986). When she attained Samadhi, numerous leaders and prominent personalities from different walks of life had flowed to Mannarasala to pay homage to that great spiritual hermitess, who had blessed the devotees and spread the divine radiance for many decades as Valia Amma.
Valia Amma of today
Valia Amma of today is Uma Devi Antharjanam, and she was consecrated as the Valia Amma on 24th October 1993, when she was 64 years old. She is also the wife of the late Shri. M.G.Narayanan Namboothiri.
Details from www.mannarasala.org & www.wikipedia.org