Mangombu Bhagawathy Temple

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By P.R.Ramachander


Mangombu is a very prosperous island about 15 km away from Alappuzha town. Most of the people in this village cultivate rice. The only mode of approach to this place is by means of boats, though these days ferries are available to carry the vehicles. Dr.M.S. Swaminathan, the father of modern Indian Agriculture is from this place.

There is a great Bhagawathy temple in Mangombu which has an interesting story behind it as to its origin. During the reign of king Veera Marthanda Verma of Travancore, one official named Pavvathil Kaimal requested the king to allot him some forest wood so that he could build his own house. The king asked Kaimal to cut trees from Mangombu hills near Palai. Kaimal cut the required logs and when he was trying to transport the logs by the river, three very pretty women approached Kaimal and requested for a lift. Kaimal informed them that he would allow them to travel with him provided they became ugly. They then transformed themselves into ugly women and travelled along with the logs. When the boat reached the present location of Mangombu, it stopped there and refused to move further. Then the pretty women revealed to Kaimal that they were goddesses and wanted temples to be built there for them. They then changed themselves into idols. For the first Goddess a temple was built in Koyikkal, the second in a place called Vadaiattu. When they were considering where to consecrate the third goddess, she possessed one of the people assembled there and that person threw a branch of a mango tree and requested them to build a temple where it fell. They conceded to the wish of the Goddess and since it was the place where the branch of the mango tree fell, it was called Mankombu, meaning “Branch of a mango tree”. Till this day the descendents of the man who threw the mango branch have a say in the affairs of the temple. The temple was consecrated in the month of Meenam (March april ) in the star of Bharani. The founders day is celebrated during this occasion.

The goddess faces the west direction. A 'keda-vilakku' meaning an eternal lamp is kept lit all the time in front of the Goddess, since it is believed that she likes light. Lighting lamps is one of the very important worship form in this temple. In the south-eastern corner of the temple of the Goddess, another one for Lord Shiva can be seen. It is customary that perambulations around the sanctum sanctorum is done four times. The idol of the Goddess is made of Jack wood and is in a 'roudra-bhava' (fierce form of Mahishasura Mardini). However a golden mask having a peaceful feature is adorned on the face of the goddess.This idol has a crown with 15 serpents carved on it, as also a symbol of an elephant as her right ear piece and a lion on the left ear. She also wears an 'Erukku Maalai' (garland of the erukku flower-Calotropis gigantea).

Raktha Pushpanjali for fulfilling all desires and Swayamvara Pushpanjali for early marriage are performed at this temple. Pregnant women observe 12 day Bhajanam in this temple for safe delivery. Several types of Payasams are also offered to the Goddess.

The first eight days of Medam (april-may) is celebrated as Mangombu Mala ketham (Moncombu mountain climbing). Irumudi which is similar to the Sabarimala Irumudi is taken and people go round the temple while chanting “saranam”. Then the night pooja is performed in the south east of the temple in a place called Malai Nadai. Most of the important Hindu festivals Like Navarathri, Krishna Jayanthi, Deepavali etc are also observed in this temple. During Dhanu month (December-January) a ten day Chirappu is also observed. During this festival the Goddess would be covered with sandal paste.

In the month of Meenam, the foundation day of the temple is celebrated. A kavadi pooja is performed during this occasion