Koodal Maanikkam Bharathan Temple

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By P.R.Ramachander


Irinjalakkuda is a small town which is about 25 Km from Thrissur. It is believed that two streams were flowing through this place and it was called Iru chala kkuda, which later became Irinjalakkuda. This is the only temple which is dedicated to Bharatha, the younger brother of Lord Sri Rama, in India. The God is also called Sangameshwara. It is believed that a saint called Kuleepathi was doing yagas at the spot where the temple is built. There is a temple tank inside the temple which is called Kuleepathi tank. People believe it as the spot where the above saint was doing Yagnas. Today the water of this tank is only used for the worship of the God Bharatha in the temple. This temple tank does not have any other aquatic life except for fishes. People believe that the fishes in this tank were the descendants of sages who used to do Yaga there. There is a custom of feeding these fishes called "meenuttu" to please the God, because of this.

People believe that there was a very ancient temple at this very spot but the power of the deity started diminishing. Astrologers were consulted and they told that a new Prathishta should be done. At that time some fishermen fished out four idols of Gods from the sea. Based on a divine voice, that a particular one among these should be consecrated in this place it was so done.The idol chosen was that of Bharatha. The Rama idol among the four fished out, was consecrated in nearby Thriprayar, the Lakshmana idol in Muzhikkulam and the one of Shattrugna in Payamel. All these places are not very far off. After the consecration, the power of the temple increased. The idol of Bharatha is five feet tall with four hands holding bow, conch, wheel and Abhaya mudra. Offering Lotus to this Lord is considered as very propitious.

During that period of time, priests noticed a bright red glow emanating from the idol. Those who saw it, compared the glow to some thing which was like the glow of a 'Manikkam stone' (a costly gem supposed to be associated with king cobra). The only rich man in possession of such a gem was the king Of Kayamkulam. He voluntarily offered his very precious Manikkam to the temple for comparing with the glow but when it was taken near to the glow behind the idol, the manikkam of the king got merged with the idol. From that time on, this temple was known as Koodal Manikkam Kshethram (The temple where the 'manikkam' merged). Since the gem belonged to the king of Kayankulam, this temple was given under his control. After some time, the King of Travancore conquered Kayankulam and took over the temple. Thus a temple in the middle of the Cochin Kingdom came to be owned by the king of Travancore. After independence the temple came under the control of the government.

Another peculiarity of this temple is the offering of 101 Brinjals to the Lord which had a base in the story where a devotee of the temple who suffered severe stomach ache was fully cured when the Lord came in his dreams and ordered him to offer 101 Brinjals to Him. Ever since, people offer 101 Brinjals to get cured of diseases.

The punartham (Punarvasu) star of the Makara (January –February) is celebrated as the foundation day of the temple. On the Thiruonam (Sravana) star of the month of Thulam (October-November) Puthari (new rice) festival is celebrated in this temple. People bring freshly harvested rice, vegetables, Banana etc to the temple from villages around the temple. Next day they are offered to God and a grand feast for every one is arranged with the new produce brought by them. Next day a medicine called Mukkudi is offered to the Lord and distributed to the devotees.

The temple has Poojas in the morning, noon and in the evening. For the night Pooja women are not allowed to participate.Another peculiar practice in this temple is that bells are not rung, camphor not lighted and incense not offered during worship. People believe that Lord Bharatha is doing meditation here and doing all these things would disturb him.