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Koduvayur Shiva Temple Festival – Ratholsavam – Koduvayur Viswanatha Swamy Temple

Koduvayur Viswanatha Swamy Temple is dedicated to Siva and is located at Koduvayur in Palakkad district, Kerala.

The temple has a history of more than 700 years. It is believed that one Venkatarama Iyer and Lakshmi Ammal of Kollengode had got the Shivling worshipped in the temple from Kashi. It was they who built the temple and consecrated the Shivling.

The main sreekovil faces east. The Upa Devatas worshipped in the temple are Subrahmanian, Ganapathy, Surya Narayana Moorthy, Dakshinamurti, Devayani, Valli, Chandikeshwara, Bhairavan, Vishalakshi, Vishwanathan and Meenakshi. The sreekovil of Meenakshi faces south.

The puja in the temple is performed as per Tamil Shaiva method. The pujaris are known as Tamil Gurukkal.

Koduvayur Ratholsavam

The proceedings of Koduvayur Ratholsavam begins with the Muhurthakaal Ceremony exactly 18 days before the main festival day (Thiruvathira). In the ceremony a decorated bamboo is erected on the south-west corner of the temple, this marks the beginning of the festive season.

The ritual of Grama Shanthi takes place at the twilight. The ritual is intended to capture bad spirits roaming in the village. The flag hoisting takes place the next day. Rudra Abhishekam is held from 2 AM to 7 AM the next day.

The kodiyettam or flag hoisting which marks the beginning of the festival is held on Revati nakshatra. For the next seven days, various festivities are held.

The main days of Koduvayur Ratholsavam are Thiruvathira and Punartham nakshatra in Dhanu month. The festival coincides with Arudra Darshanam.

The ratharohanam takes place after the utsava murthis goes three times around the temple and 9 times around the holy banyan tree. They then move into their respective chariots. The event gets hysterical with the sounds of Panchavadyam, Chenda Melam and nadaswaram. People dance in joy on the occasion.

The Ther or Ratha (chariot) is pulled through four streets of Pootheruvu, Gokulatheruvu, Mookhatheruvu and Iratta Theruvu.

Poorabhishekam is performed on the Thiruvathira nakshatra day. Special pujas are also held on the day. An eagle representing Garuda, the divine vehicle or vahana of Vishnu appears in the sky.

Next is the elephant procession with Poorna Kumbham to the accompaniment of Panchavadyam music. This is known as Thirumanjanam ezhunnallathu.

The three chariots used in the festival carry murtis of Ganapathy in one chariot, Subrahmanya, Devayani and Vali in another and the third chariot has murtis of Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The chariots are pulled to the accompaniment of temple music. The coming of the deities from temple is known as Darshanam. The chariot procession takes place continuously for more than 24 hours.

Fireworks, temple music and concerts are held during the occasion.

After passing through the four streets, the chariots reach the temple pond. The deities are then taken around the temple pond on a small boat. This procession is known as Kulitheru.

After this ritual the deities return to the temple.