Temple Rites

Various rites of the temples are meant to turn the deity with occult powers. Poojas are mainly two types (i) Aathmaarthams (relating to the person who does the pooja); and (ii) Parartham (relating to the deity who in turn looks after the people).

The priests in Kerala include Thantri and Santhikkar. They should have traditionally received manthropadesha (training in temple rites) from a qualified and competent Guru or Acharya at the appropriate age.

Before commencement of any kind of pooja, the priest should purify himself physically and mentally. Constant practice of prescribed samskaara and total surrender to God are very essential. The priest starts pooja by sitting over an Aavana-palaka (a wooden seat made of chamata wood or jack wood in the shape of Koorma (tortoise) by chanting manthras and showing mudras. Manthras are innumerable. Mudras are as follows: -

Abhivadana: - This is done for paying respect to the Guru by mentioning his name and touching the ground with crossed hands.

Vandana: - This is for motivating the Sakthi by chanting veda manthras by placing palms across. With folded hands (brahmanjali) above the head for propitiating Lord Siva and all Gurus followed by touching his own left shoulder for his Guru and right shoulder for Lord Vigneswara (Lord Ganapathy), the heart for the Paramatma and the Aavana-palaka at his back.

Vyaapaka:- It is conceived that hands are consumed by fire and new hands emerged in their place for performing sacred rites every time. It is followed by Nyaasa by using fingers based on three ganas (Shrishti, Sthithi and Samhara) by chanting manthras. Kara-nyaasa is the touching of each finger by the thumb. There are five types of Nyaasa. The belief is that this would extend deva-chaithanya (divine power of God) in the body of the priest.

Thala-Thrya: - This is done by clapping palms at three points; i.e; heart, head and above head. The concept behind thala thrya is that man exists in earth, air and the world above it. By following this rite it is believed that the all powers of the universe would condense within the atma of the priest.



Desa-dig-bandha: - This is to create a protection around the priest by manthra-chaithanya from all outer surroundings and safeguard from evil influences.

Agni-praakara-thrya:- It is done by whirling the index finger over the head three times to get protection from all the three kinds of fire.

Pranayama: - The procedure is breath through right nostril (pingala) by closing the left nostril, in four seconds, retain the air for sixteen seconds by closing both the nostrils then slowly exhale through the left nostril (ida) in eight seconds. Then inhale through the left nostril retail and exhale through the right nostril keeping the timing. This process is repeated to the required number of time. This is done to enrich deva-chaithanya (divine power) .

Shadanga-nyaasa: - It literarily means touching six parts of the body- i.e., the heart, head, hair, chest, eyes, and palms with the manthras and mudras.

Dehasudhi: - The concept is that by soshana, dahana and plavana, the body of the priest is re-born and has all the qualities of the deity.

Sankha poorana: - It is very sacred ceremony by which the conch is filled with water by chanting manthras and then it is used for purification of water, flowers and vessels used for pooja.

Aathmaaraadhana: - The concluding rite of the purificatory ceremony of the priest is aathmaraadhana or self-pooja, treating himself as the deity is worshipped.

Role of Daivanga (Astrologer) and Deva-prasnam

Daivanga (Astrologer) determines the auspicious time for building a temple, installation of idol, expiatory rites etc.  Devaprasnam (an astrological method) is conducted to find out the reason(s) for those problems related to a deity. Eg., Fire in prakaras, breakage of idol etc. Devprasnam is performed by Devanga who is well versed with the subject.


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