Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathi temple is one of the most renowned temples in Kerala. The temple is located at Chettikulangara in Mavelikkara taluk of Alappuzha district in the south Indian state of Kerala. The temple is situated about 4 km west of Mavelikkara, 7 km north of Kayamkulam on SH6 (Kayamkulam - Thiruvalla Highway).
One important aspect of the Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathi temple is that the deity appears as Maha Saraswathi in the morning, as Maha Lakshmi at noon and Sri Durga or Bhadrakali in the evening. The 1200-year-old temple has 13 Karas (territories). The temple is at the centre of the oldest four Karas–Erezha South, Erezha North, Kaitha South and Kaitha North and the rest of the Karas Kannamangalam South, Kannamangalam North, Pela, Kadavoor, Anjilipra, Mattam North, Mattam South, Menampally and Nadakkavu surround this temple.
This is the second largest temple in terms of income under the control of Travancore Devaswom Board, second only next to Sabarimala. It is estimated that the temple has earnings worth many crores per year. In 2009 it earned around 1.7 crore Rupees from a single type of offering called Chanthattam. A major part of the Nellu offered to the Bhagavathi is also used to make Appam and Aravana prasadams at Sabarimala. The income from the temple is also helpful to run the daily rituals and Poojas at various temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board.
There are many Upadevathas (sub-deities) adjacent to the temple, and a few Prathishtas were either revamped or added according to the Deva Prashnam by expert astrologers recently. The main Upadevathas in the temple premises are Yakshini, Ganapathi, Nagarajav, Balakan, Muhurthi, Naga Yakshi, Thevara Moorthy, Kannamballi bhagavathi, Rekshas (a fierce supernatural creature who feeds on humans), Vallyachan (Central Travancore parlance for family chieftains; they are worshiped by his descendants after death). There is a small temple for Moolasthanam (primary abode).
A Kavu (a patch of small forest which houses the serpent Gods, and is common in central Travancore). A Karimbana and Chembakam tree on the premises are places of worship on the belief that they house Gandharvas and Yakshis, the supernatural elements who accompany Bhagavathy, their master, during her trips, termed Varutthu Pokku in local parlance.
- Kumbha Bharani
- Ethirelpu Ulasvam
- Aswathy Ulasvam
Kettukazhcha is an offering of the people of Chettikulangara to their beloved deity known for her spontaneous blessings on true devotees as a mark of gratitude, devotion, unflinching faith, and for showering prosperity and protection to their lives. Kettukazhcha displays deftly sculpted and decorated forms of six temple cars known as ‘Kuthira’ (Horses), five Theru’ (Chariots ) and icons of Bhima and Hanuman. All the temple cars, chariots and the icons are all incredibly gigantic in size and are many times larger than any other similar Kuthiras and Therus built during the festivities at other temples in the Central Travancore region.
On the move, these out of the World
sky scrapping colourful decorations are electrifying, and will create an unforgettable artistic impression in union, especially during the night in the back drop of illuminated lights. Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha heralds the architectural and aesthetic acumen of the ancient people of Chettikulangara, who could convert an improbable out of the world concept to an enormous artistic reality, achieved by collective hardships and will power.
Kuthiras have a height of about 70 to 75 feet, and are a union of four parts– Adikkoottu, Kathirakal, Edakkodaram, Prabhada and Melkkoodaram, one above the other respectively. Adikkottu the basic structure also known as Vandikkoottu, form the basic foundation which consists of four big wooden wheels interconnected with four other beams above it. Kuthiras have Thandu, two long huge wooden poles helpful to control the direction while on the move. Thandu and the basic structure are interconnected and have reinforced wooden bearings similar to the modern shock absorbers.
Theru does not have the Prabhadas and Edakkoodarams. Their illithattu and charippu are larger than that of the Kuthiras and diminishes in size upwards. Therus are also smaller than the Kuthiras height.
Kuthiyottam is performed as an important offering to the deity. This is a ritual dance practiced and perfected through several centuries. It used to be done only in houses in the 13 Karas of the Chettikulangara Temple but after a recent Deva Prashnam it was allowed to conduct Kuthiyottam in the houses outside of the 13 Karas . The houses are decorated, and the portrait of the deity is installed in temporary structures. Kuthiyottam starts a week before Bharani day. It is a type of folk dance performed by youths with the accompaniment of folk music and other musical instruments. Young boys between 8 to 14 years are taught this ritual dance in the house amidst a big social gathering before the portrait of the deity. Feasts are also provided for all the people.