Puducode Bhagawathy Temple
By Ammu Patti
Puthucode is a picturesque small village lying on the western most border of Palghat District and bordering Thrissur District. It is approximately 40kms away from both Palghat and Thrissur towns. The nearest railway stations are Palghat and Thrissur. The nearest airports are Coimbatore and Kochi. The village is located 6 km west of Vadakkencherry on the Palakkad-Thrissur stretch of the National Highway 47. There are regular bus services from Thrissur and Palghat to Puthucode.
Puthucode agraharam with four streets with row houses was exclusively inhabited by Brahmins until a few decades back. Where the four streets meet is the famous Annapoorneswari temple. It would be apt to say the 4 agraharams are radiating from the central Annapoorneswari temple.
It is said that Sage Parasurama installed 108 Durga temples in many parts of India and this is one of them. Currently this comes under Naduvil Madom Devaswam. The daily poojas are performed by Tamil Brahmins except during the Navarathri festival when they are performed by Thantris affiliated to Naduvil Madom Devaswam.
There is a belief among Brahmins of this village that this idol (4 feet tall) was got made in Truthala near Kuttanad and was brought by Brahmins of the village belonging to three Vedas by head load, with chanting the Vedas all the way without stopping any where on the way. It is believed at some stage in the life of the temple, the Tamil Brahmins gave the temple to the Naduvil Madam. According to a stone inscription, Sri Godavarma Raja gifted lots of rice fields for the maintenance of the temple. Also, several families had bequeathed land to the Devaswom in the olden days for the Annadhanam during Navarathri.These properties however, were abolished due to the Land reform act of Kerala. But the Tamil Brahmins of the village joined together and formed a trust called SAPCO (Sree Annapuneshwari Pooja Coordinators trust ) which is managing the temple at present. Though the Goddess is called Annapurneshwari, she holds in her hands Shanku and Chakra (Not ladle and vessel like the Annapurneshwari of Benares).
The temple occupies a vast area with a large outer Prakaaram and an inner Prakaaram. The main entrance to the temple faces east and as you enter the temple there is a Deepasthambham beyond which is the entrance to the inner Prakaaram of the temple. The inner Prakaaram is also very large with wide corridors known as Vathil maadams along the four sides, where discourses and concerts used to take place. The madapalli or the cook house is also situated here. As one gets inside the Mahaganapathy Sannidhi facing east can be seen. Going around the Mahaganapathy Sannidhi, you reach the main temple of Annapoorneswari. The Deity faces west. The Deity is also known as Santha Durga and is a very powerful Devi bestowing Her benevolent blessings to all Her devotees. The four handed idol of Devi is almost 4 feet tall. She is always dressed in a Pattu Pavadai. To see the Devi in her full Chandana kappu after the Deeparadhana in the evening is at once electrifying. It gives one such a joy and peace and real happiness. One just cannot take the eyes off Devi when She is adorned in full Chandana kappu.
When you come around the Namaskara Mandapam, there is the Prathishta for Naga devata, Dharmasastha and Palliyarkkal Bhagavathy on the north-west corner of the main temple. A unique offering (vazhipadu) of Azhil is conducted in front of this Sannidhi. A new cloth (a set of 4 thorthus) dipped in Gingelly oil is hung on the poll in between two stone pillars. After doing a special pooja the archaka lights the cloth dipped in oil and allows it to burn down to ashes. This ash is used as prasadam and smeared on the forehead. It is believed that this offering will relieve one of all types of obstacles and misfortunes in life.
The other important offerings (vazhipadu) in the temple are Kalabhabhishekam, Niramala, Chuttuvilakku, Archanas, etc.
On the outer prakaaram, is the west nada, which is also known as Aanapandhi which has the gold plated dwajasthambam. This is where the Thayambaka and Keli take place during Navarathri celebrations.
Along the northern compound wall of the temple is the Agrisala, where cooking and dining take place during the Annadhanam of Navarathri.
The Sarat Navarathri during the months of September and October is the biggest festival in Puthucode Bhagavathy temple. All Her subjects who are far from home assemble at Puthucode during these nine days. The Dwajarohanam for the festival is on the Prathama thithi after Mahalaya Amavasya and the Aarattu on Vijayadashami day or the 10th day from the Dwajarohanam. There are daily processions with caparisoned elephants twice a day for the first 4 days inside the temple on the outer Praakaram and on the following 4 days the procession of caparisoned elephants with accompanying Panchavadyam and Chendamelam is taken to the 4 villages on successive days, starting with the South village on the 6th day. The Utsavamoorthy of the deity is taken atop the caparisoned elephant to all the villages for Her to see Her subjects. There is a Pallivetta on the 9th night followed by Aarattu on the 10th day. During Navarathri the Utsavamoorthy is taken atop the elephant to the nearby stream every morning where the deity is given a bath and after due alankarams taken back to the temple.
Measures of paddy and rice and other items like puffed rice, flowers, etc known as Parayeduppu are offered to Bhagavathy during the procession of elephants to the respective villages. The Parayeduppu for the south village is on the Aarattu day when the deity returns to the temple after her holy bath in the stream.
After Aarattu the elephant has to touch the Dwajasthambham which will mark the end of the festival for that year.
In 2003, devotees installed a new Dwajasthambham fully covered with gold.
True to Her name there is Annadhanam on all the 9 days of Navarathri for all devotees. Puthucode Pulinkari which is served with Rice and Olan is unique to this Navarathri Sadhya. The Sadasadaya Payasam (Idichujpizhinja payasam) offered to Bhagavathy during these days is also very famous. There is a saying in tamil Puthucoda vitta gramamum illai, Pulinkariye vitta kootanum illai which can be translated as, Puthucode is the ultimate among agraharams and Pulinkari is the ultimate among curries.
The Devi has blessed all Her children with wealth, health and positions and they in turn pay their respects to Her by donating to the temple funds.
The temple is open from 5.30am to 10.00am and 4.30pm to 9.00pm for worship. The Deeparadhana in the evening is at 6.30pm.
At the end of North Village is a Siva temple. The temple is situated at a lower level than the surrounding village. There is a large tank known as ayyankulam in front of the Siva temple. The presiding deity is facing east. There are also sannidhis for Mahaganapathy and Dharmasastha inside the temple. The annual festival in this Siva temple starts on the Thiruvathira day of the Malayalam month Dhanu and the Arattu is on the 8th day. Mahasivarathri is also celebrated in a grand manner with Maharudram, Abhishekam etc. Annabhishekam on the Pournami day of the Malayalam month Thulam is also very famous.
The temple opens for worship at 5.30am to 10.30 am and again at 4.30pm to 9.00pm.
Just outside the Siva temple there is a newly constructed Sivamahal in the north village, which can be used for functions like Marriage, Upanayanam etc.