Garudan Thookkam is an important ritual performed in certain Kerala Temples dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. The story of performing Garudan Thookkam is associated with Goddess Bhagavathy annihilating demon Darika. The ritual is also performed in certain temples in Tamil Nadu.
Mother Goddess took a ferocious form to annihilate Demon Darika. Her anger did not subside after killing Darika. The Raudra Bhava that she took could not be pacified even by Shiva and his Ganas.
To pacify Mother Goddess and to stop the annihilation of the universe, Lord Vishnu sent his vehicle, or vahana, Garuda.
Garuda flew from Vaikunta accompanied by music. On his way, he threw fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs to make all living beings.
Finally, he reached the holy presence of the fierce Mother Goddess. With awe and respect, he offered his blood to the Goddess.
Goddess Bhagavathy accepted the blood and was pacified. She then took motherly form and granted the wishes of her devotees.
Garudan Thookkam is held in certain Kerala temples to commemorate this holy event.
A chariot of Garuda is pulled to the Bhagavathy Temple on the day. The person performing the Garudan Thookam ritual is hooked to the chariot. The hook is pierced into the skin on his back or the person is hung from a cloth tied to the waist. He moves around the temple hanging from the hook on the chariot and offers prayers to the Goddess.
Garudan Thookam ritual depends on the number of devotees offering the ritual. In some temples, there will be several Garudan Thookam on a day.