Mannarsala Snake Temple
The temple at Mannarsala situated about 40 KM from Alappuzha and near to the town of Haripad, is dedicated to snakes and is quite unique among Kerala temples.This temple is claimed to be 6000 years old and is believed to have been built by Sage Parasurama. This small piece of land is believed to be the only area in the 'Khandeeva' forest mentioned in Mahabharatha, which remained unburnt while the rest perished. The people living in this village had saved several snakes which rushed into this area of the forest by constantly pouring water and drenching the earth. Since this is the place where “place where mud became cool”, it was initially called “Mann aariya Salai” and later this became Mannarasalai.
Lord Parasurama who built a temple in this place brought several Brahmins and made them live in this place. But due to very large number of snakes and the water being saline, they left the place. Lord Parasurama did Thapas to Lord Shiva who asked him to propitiate Vasuki, the king of snakes for a solution. Parasurama did accordingly and Vasuki being pleased,assured him that these snakes would remain here but would not hurt anybody in this village. All villagers would have to build a snake temple in their house and daily light a lamp in front of it at dusk. As to the salt in the water, he was assured that it would be removed to the sea. Parasurama gladly agreed and again brought the Brahmins who were all Namboodiri Brahmins. They built their houses here and lived happily. Parasurama built a temple for Naga Raja and Naga Yakshi in that place. He instructed one family called Irinada palli to build their home in the temple compound. The first residents of this house were Vasudevan Namboodiri and his wife Sridevi andarjanam.
Their family continued to look after the temple,but after a while one of their descendants did not have children. They prayed at the temple and as a result, got two sons. One of them was a snake. This snake was born on Aslesha(Ayilyam) star of the Kumbha month (February-March). This snake son told his mother that the snakes living in the area were very happy with their family. However they wanted only the eldest female member of the family to perform the ceremonial worship in the temple. Since their mother was the eldest, the snake assured her that she would be taught all the rituals that have to be followed in the worship. He taught his mother the rituals and since that time, the worship in this temple is performed only by the eldest lady of the family (She is called Mannarsala Amma(mother)).Thereafter the snake son entered the dark store room in that house and warned that none should enter the room except that once a day it could be opened for worship by the Amma of the temple. She normally keeps a cup of milk and then closes the door. Next day, the cup is found empty. This snake in the store is called “Grand father” by all people and all of them revere that snake. The other son born along with the snake established two temples in Mannarsala, one dedicated to Naga Raja and another to Naga Yakshi. The story goes that one of the snakes in the temple was given as a dowry for a girl who got married to a Brahmin family in Kayankulam. That snake entered the store room of that house and a similar temple like Mannarsalai was built there. This temple is called Mey Palli. And is near Kayamkulam.
The most important offering in the temple is “noorum palaum.”. This is the mixture of rice powder, turmeric powder and milk. These would be kept outside the temple at night. In the morning the contents of the vessel are poured in the mud. The Noorum palum is also given to the grand father in the store house. But the contents of the vessel disappear next day, when the store is opened.
It is well known that snakes of the temple do not bite anybody. Even if it bites nothing happens to the person. It is also well known that nothing is stolen from the temple. It is believed that the snakes of the temple guard the property of the temple. On the aslesha (Ayilyam) star of the Thula month(October-November) is celebrated as a great festival in this temple.
People wanting children as well as those affected by Naga Dosha come to this temple and it is believed that all their problems are solved.