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Vellayani Devi Temple – Festival Kaliyoottu – Pongala

Vellayani Devi Temple is located at Vellayani on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city, Kerala. The shrine near Vellayani Lake is dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali.  The temple is noted for the Kaliyoottu Mahotsavam which happens once in every three years and is celebrated over a two-month period (about 56 to 65 days). The next festival will be in March- April 2023. The temple observes the annual Pongal festival is held on Aswathy nakshatra in Meena Masam (March – April).

Vellayani Devi Temple Kaliyoottu Festival

Kaliyoottu festival is a ritual art form associated with Goddess Bhadrakali in Southern Kerala especially in Thiruvananthapuram region. The festival celebrates with the holy war between Goddess Kali and demon Darika. One of the main rituals of Kaliyoottu is the Thottam Pattu. It requires 48 days for singing the Bhadrakali Thottam Pattu completely.

The most important rituals associated with Kaliyoottu festival are Kalamkaval, Nagaroottu, Uchabali, Dikkubali, Paranettu, Nilathil Poru – which marks the end of the Kaliyoottu.  At Vellayani devi temple the Paranettu will be held on the ninth day of Medam (Mid- April).

Kalamkaval is the ritual in which chief priest, carries the huge murti like a headgear on his head and performs some trance like dances until he is unconscious.

Nagaroottu is the custom performed before uchabali for the satisfaction of Nagas or serpents.

Sixty four gestures including mathsyam, sampannam, chathurasramam, sarpa mudra, and jyoti mudra are part of the uchabali ritual. The ritual is performed at midnight and a beautiful crown built of coconut palm is fixed at the spot of the ritual.

Paranettu enacts the fight between Goddess Bhadrakali and Demon Darika in the sky. A 100 feet high stage is set for the purpose and is held at midnight.

Nilathil Poru marks the end of the fight between the Goddess and demon. The demon asks for forgiveness and he is annihilated by a ferocious Kali.

The festival culminates with arattu ceremony in which 101 pots of water from the Vellayani Lake is used. A chief priest along with a young girl below ten years from his family performs the ritual.

Vellayani Devi Temple Timing

  • Daily Puja and Timing is from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM.
  • Apart from the above timing the temple is also open from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. Special Madhu Pooja is performed for the Goddess during this period.
  • On the first day of all Malayalam months, the temple is open from 5:30 AM to 8:00 AM.

Vellayani Devi Temple Story

A Kollan (blacksmith) named Kelan Kulasekhara saw a frog with divine spirit of Goddess near Vellayani Lake. He caught the divine frog with the help of his assistant. They brought the matter to the Nair chieftains of the locality and with their help Kulasekhara consecrated the Thiru Mudi (murti) in which divine spirit is evoked.

The priest in the temple is from a blacksmith community.

The murti of Bhagavathy worshipped in the temple is known as Thirumudi and it is one of the biggest in Kali temples in Kerala. The murti is four and a half feet in height and width. Pure gold and precious stones adorn the Thirumudi. The deity faces north.

The upa devatas worshipped in the temple are Shiva, Ganesha, Nagaraja and Madan Thampuran.

The shrine has two gopurams and follows the Dravidian architecture.