Sarkara Devi Temple Kerala

Sarkara Devi temple at Chirayinkeezhu is one of the major pilgrim destinations in south India. It is situated south of the Chirayinkeezhu Taluk. The main deity of the temple is Goddess Bhadrakali. The idol is installed facing the north. Centuries ago this place was less populated and desolate. Once, a group of molasses merchants from Ambalappuzha visited this place for their business. They saw a wayside shelter here and decided to relax for sometime. When they decided to continue the journey they found that one of their molasses pots not moving. As they tried to pull it by force the pot broke apart and the molasses flowed and there appeared an idol. Later an old lady who came there to clean the shelter found the idol and informed others. The villagers constructed a temple and consecrated the idol there. Since the goddess came from Sarkara (Malayalam word for Molasses) she was called by the name Sarkara Devi. Kaliyoot and Meenabharani are the popular festivals conducted in Sarkara Devi Temple.

The Architecture

The sanctum sanctorum is a two storied rectangular structure. The roof is polished with bronze. The second storey is decorated with innumerable sculptures which include that of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Durga, Lord Ganapathy, Lord Vishnu, Narasimhamoorthi and several other deities.

Meenabharani Festival

The Meenabharani festival is the second great annual festival in the temple of Sarkara Devi Temple. This festival often falls on the occasion of the annual special poojaof Attavishesham. During the period of king Dharma Raja and his success or Marthanda Varma orders were given for the elaborate conduct of the festival and the expenses like paddy, incurred for the same were recorded.(Mathilakam Records, churana 937,ola, 1639, 1750–51, kerala State Archives, Trivandrum) The festival of Meenabharani is celebrated for ten days and it is believed that on the tenth day the benevolent Goddess appesrs and showers her blessings on the devotees. The Meenabharani festival generally starts with Kodiyettu (flag hoisting), nine days before the asterism of Bharani which is considered as the birth star of Sarkaradevi. It ends on the tenth day with Arat (holy immersion) of the deity in the temple tank. There are very interesting ceremonies connected with this festival. On all days recital of the exploits of the Goddess is staged by special teams of people. On the ninth day an important function is conducted in this temple known as Pallivetta. It is believed that during this function Sarkara devi disappears from the temple and she went for hunting. The Goddess is taken in procession as for hunting with the accompaniment of five caparisoned elephants and firetorches to the Bhagavathy palace. Through this hunting she tried to avoid powers of malice and maintain peace and security in this vicinity. During the earlier period animal sacrifices were conducted along with this performance. However, animal sacrifices were avoided during the later periods. Now this function ends with the return procession of the deity and the cutting of a coconut with a bow and arrow. After that the ceremonial Arat of the deity is conducted.