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Cochin Thirumala Devaswom Festival

Cochin Thirumala Devaswom is the biggest temples of Gowda Saraswat Brahmins of Kerala. It is also one of the famous Maha Kshetrams of Kerala. Cochin Thirumala Devaswom festival 2023 date is March 30 to April 6. The annual festival is popularly known as Aratt and is held twice year. The first 8-day annual festival is held in such a manner that it concludes on the Purnima day in Chaitra month (March – April). The next festival is held in Kartika Masam (November – December).

The main deity worshipped in the temple is Sri Venkateswara and is popularly known as Gosripurusha Thirumala Devar. The main murti of Venkateswara, his consorts, Sridevi and Bhoodevi on either side is situated at the top of the throne, Utsava Murti with consorts in the middle and Utsava Lakshmi at the lower layer. On the lowest layer there are Salagramas.

The upa devatas worshipped in the temple are Mahalakshmi, Hanuman, Garuda and Vinayaka.

Sanctum sanctorum is of the Nagara style of architecture. The temple is also rich in wood work and exquisite paintings, which depict stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The northern Gopuram, a two storeyed structure with copper roof, is of the pagoda type resembling the Tibeto Indian style of architecture. Beautiful paintings done by indigenous craftsmen depicting various scenes from the Puranas and epics adorn its ceiling.

Cochin Thirumala Devaswom Festival

The Chaitra month festival includes Ratholsavam and Maholsavam. The Maholsavam is in commemoration of the first Pratistha.

The festival commences with the formal hoisting of the sacred Garuda ensign.

One of the important ritual during the temple festival is Vishnu Yagam, which starts from first day night onwards and concludes with Poornahuti on the 8th day of the temple festival. This is the only temple in Kerala where this Vishnu Yagam is held.

Two processions are held on the festival days - one in the morning and another in the evening. The procession involves taking the utsava murti (representative image) of Bhagavan in procession. Palanquin pooja is conducted at noon and night when the fully decked up murti will be taken out in procession.

On the 4th 5th and 8th days of the temple festival, the utsava murti is carried in a golden palanquin along the Southern, Northern and Western streets respectively. On the seventh day evening the murti of Bhagavan is taken around in a horse carriage with all the paraphernalia along the corridors of the temple for the palli vettai (the symbolic wild animal hunt) and he meets Bhagavan Shiva of Udyansewara temple.

On the 8th day, the deity is taken for bathing (avabritha snanam) at the lake mandapam.

Before this ceremony, there will be a procession of the community members who carry two country boats on their shoulders to the accompaniment of two caparisoned elephants, drum beats and nadaswaram, which start from the Sasati area of Cherai to commemorate the fact that the forefathers had come to Cochin from the Sasathi Pradesh of Goa to escape the forcible religious conversion of the Portuguese.

The procession ends at the Papanasam Lake where the country boats are lowered. Soon after the Holy bath of the deity, there will be a sumptuous feast for all the devotees.

After the bath, the murti of Venkateswara is seated on the throne at the mandap in the middle of the temple tank and after the performance of aarathi, the deity is taken on Golden palanquin in a procession comprising of decorated elephants and panchavadyam along the outer pathway of the Lake mandapam and enters the temple through the Eastern gopuram. The idol is then placed on a golden Garuda vahanam and pooja and aarti is performed.

The festival concludes with the drawing down of the Garuda insignia.

Ratholsavam festival performed in the month of (November-December) is similar to Maholsavam in all respects except on the afternoon of the seventh day of festival, Bhagavan is taken around the temple in a special chariot known as Pushpaka Vimanam.

Some of the other important festivals of this temple include the Madhwa Navami, Karthika Pournami, Uthana Dwadasi, Akshaya Tritiya, Anant Chaturdashi, Ashtami Rohini and Deepavali.  Scores of devotees participate in the drawing of chariot on the Mahanavami day during Navratri.