Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Friday, August 23, 2019

Guruvayoor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guruvayoor, a municipal town in Thrissur District is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. 

 

 

 

The Krishna temple in the town of Guruvayoor is one of the famous Krishna\Vishnu temples in India. The temple is classified as one of the Mahakshetras or “Great abodes of worship”. 

 

 

 

The divine idol installed here represents the enchanting form of Sree Krishna endowed with the four lustrous arms carrying the conch Panchajanya, the discus Sudarshana Chakra, the mace Kaumodaki and the lotus. Adorned with the divine Tulasi garland the idol represents the majestic form of Maha Vishnu as revealed to Vasudeva and Devaki at the time of Krishna Avatar, hence Guruvayur is also known as "Dwarka of South India". 

 

 

 

The presiding deity in the sanctum-sanctorum is Mahavishnu. He faces east and his idol is 4 ft tall. Even though this is not a much small idol, devotees consider him as Little Krishna. He is worshipped according to the pooja routines laid down by Adi Sankaracharya and later written formally in the Tantric way by Chennas Narayanan Namboodiri (born in 1427). The Chennas Namboodiris are the hereditary Tantris of the Guruvayur temple. 

 

 

 

Guruvayur, according to the legends may be 5,000 years old as the Guruvayur temple idol is. There are no historical records to establish it. It is also believed that Lord Krishna, asked 2 sages to take the idol from his temple in Dwarka while the city was being destroyed and establish it in Kerala. The idol of lord Krishna was brought by Vayu deva and BrIhaspathi and was placed in Guruvayoor. The name guruvayoor is a merge of both their names ("guru" brahaspathi and "vayu' deva). 

 

 

 

According to Sri Naradiya Purana the Pandavas handed over the kingdom to their grandson Parikshit, and left for the forest to spend their last days. Parikshit died of the curse of a saint, who cursed that Parikshit will die of snake bite by Takshaka, the king of serpents. After the death of Parikshit he was succeeded by his son Janamejaya who conducted a sacrifice to destroy all the snakes of the world including Takshaka, who was the cause of his father's death. Hundreds of thousands of snakes fell into the sacrificial fire and were killed, but the sacrifice was stopped by a Brahmin called Astika, before Takshaka was killed. 

 

 

 

Since Janamejaya was responsible for the death of millions of snakes, he was afflicted with leprosy. He lost all hope of a cure. One day Sage Atreya (son of Atri) came before Janamejaya and told him to take refuge under the feet of Krishna at Guruvayoor. 

 

 

 

Atreya told him that in the temple at Guruvayur the effulgence of Sri Hari is at its best and Vishnu showers his blessings on all devotees. He immediately rushed there and spent the next ten months worshipping the God at Guruvayur. At the end of ten months, he returned home hale and hearty and took the astrologer to task for making a false prediction. The astrologer told him that he would find the mark of snakebite on his left leg. He had escaped death only because he was at that time in a temple where Anantha (the emperor of serpents) was present and Anantha was the brother to the God at Guruvayur where he had finished worshipping. 

 

 

 

The king being convinced of the astrologer's verdict decided to build a full-fledged temple at Guruvayur. 

 

 

 

The temple tank (pond) on the northern side of the temple is called Rudratheertham. The legend say that for thousands of years, Lord Shiva and his family worshipped Lord Vishnu on the southern bank of this pond, the current location of the temple, and as Shiva is also known by the name 'Rudra', the pond came to be known as Rudratheertham. 

 

 

 

 

Festivals 

 

 

 

 

Guruvayur Ekadasi 

 

 

 

Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in a year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Sukla paksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur temple. A memorial honour for Gajarajan Kesavan is conducted in Guruvayur. The Karanavar or head of the elephant family places a wreath at the statue of Kesavan in front of Sreevalsam guest house and all the other elephants stand around and pay obeisance. On Ekadasi day, the Udayasthamana Pooja (dawn to dusk pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom itself. After the morning seeveli, on Ekadasi there is a grand elephant procession to the Parthasarathi temple since it is regarded as Geethopadesam Day also. On Ekadasi after night pooja, the famous Ekadasi Vilakku with elephant procession takes place and provides a fitting finale to the festival. 

 

 

 

Chembai Sangeetholsavam 

 

 

 

Chembai Sangeetholsavam is an annual Carnatic music festival held in Guruvayur by the Guruvayur Devaswom as a kind of homage to Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavata. About 2000-2500 musicians participate in this festival every year, and it is held for about 12–15 days culminating on the Guruvayur Ekadasi day, when all the musicians sing 5 favourite songs of Chembai and also the Pancharatna Kritis of Thyagaraja.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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