Cherukunnu Annapurneswari temple

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Cherukunnu Annapurneswari temple


P.R. Ramachander

This is one of the very famous devi temples of Malabar near the village of Chirakkal which is near the town of Kannur. It is believed that Goddess Annapuneswari of Benares wanted to visit South India. When Lord Shiva was apprehensive that she may settle down there, it seems she assured him that she would appear before him as soon as he wants her. So she was sent in a golden boat accompanied by Kalarivathukkal Amma and Madayi Kavil amma. When they reached Chirakkal , Goddess Annapurneswari liked the place so much that she decided to stay there. She bid farewell to the boatman who also stayed back there. People believe that the famous Olingara Jama Masjid was built by him.
Cherukunnu means small hill but the temple is on the plane surrounded by five small hills. Another interpretation is that it was originally “Choru kunnu” meaning hill of cooked rice. When the Goddess decided to settle down in Cherukunnu she decided to choose to have her temple in the same compound as that of a Krishna temple which was built by Parasurama. People believe that the temple is made of bricks which are joined by a paste of Jaggery and beaten rice. The temple was rebuilt in 1994 a Chirakkal king called Avittam thirunal Rama Varma Raja.Next to the temple is a very big temple pond( Ambala kulam) .
Once we enter the temple we first see the temple of Lord Krishna and the famous Annapurneswari temple is behind this temple. One possible reason is possibly due to the ancient Namboodiri belief that their women should not be seen directly. However there is a small hole in the outside wall through which the Goddess can be seen clearly , by even people who do not choose to enter the temple. Another peculiarity of this temple is the existence of a mirror idol (Kannadi Bimbam ) of the Goddess in her sanctum sanctorum.
Annadanam (Giving free meals) is the most important aspect of this temple. It is believed that nobody who enters the temple should return hungry. Every day before the temple is closed at night, the high priest asks , all the people there , whether they are hungry three times and in olden times, it seems three packets of food is tied on the tree outside so that even the late comers can also eat something. But with the implementation of the Land reform bill, the temple is not in a position to supply food to al the visitors. So the visitors either take Trimadhuram or Payasam in side the temple before leaving it.
Vishu Vilakku (the first of meda masam(April- may) is the major festival in this temple. It is celebrated for a period of one week with bursting of crackers and the procession of the goddess on an elephant. The Goddess takes three rounds of the temple and then visits the village . And there is a dance by a Brahmin carrying the idol of the Goddess. This dance is enacted in front of the temple. People believe that Goddess descends on the Brahmin and makes him dance prettily to the tunes. At this time the temple would be shining with lighted lamps.
The Puna prathishta( the second consecration) day of the temple is celebrated in the month of Kumbam (February march) on Pooyam day. Shiva Rathri and Mahga Navami are also celebrated in this temple.