Koodalmanickyam Temple is situated at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur District. It is 23 Km south of Thrissur and 16 Km north of Kodungallur. This temple is before the 15th century. The uniqueness of this temple is that the deity here is Lord Bharatha or Lord Sangameswara. There are arguments that once this temple belonged to the Jains (Bharatheswara saint of Jains) and with the descent of Jainism this temple was taken over by Hindus.
A clear unique feature of Koodalmanickyam temple is that there is only one single Prathistha. Even Lord Ganapathi, usually found in all temples dose not find place here.
The Feature of Thulasi Leaves and Koodalmanickyam Temple
Thulasi will not grow in this temple. Usually when Thulasi leaves are offered to the deity, its seeds invariably sprout in the premises. There is an explanation that Thulasi plant being sacred; it is worshipped wherever it is found. Probably it is to forbid even such an object of secondary worship in the temple precincts that Thulasi is not allowed to grow by some unforeseen power.
The Power of all Gods in Koodalmanickyam Temple Idol
Once a Brahmin in Taliparambu decided to collect the chaithanya of idols of important temples in Kerala for being transferred to the idol of Lord Mahadeva in Taliparambu temple. This he did by entering the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temples he visited and transferring the Chaithanya on to the conch in his possession.
When he did the same in Irinjalakuda he accidentally fell down and the conch was broken instantly transferring the divinity of all idols he had acquired on to the idol at Irinjlakuda. Thus the idol in which merged the divine Chaithanya of several idols came to be known as Sangameswara. The Namboodiri Brahmins associated with the temple still make all their Seva in the name of Shiva, Vishnu and Devi at Sangameswara Sannidhi itself.
How Koodal Manikyam got its name
Once the idol of this temple radiated magnificent light that excelled Manikyam (a mythological precious stone believed to be kept and protected by divine serpents). A Manikyam kept in the Kayamkulam palace was brought to this temple to compare with the idol and to see which emits more light, on promise to return after comparison. When the Manikyam was brought near the idol it got merged with the idol. Koodal Manikyam means merger of Manikyam and thus the name Koodalmanikyam.
Since the temple authorities were unable to return the Manikyam to Kayamkulam king, the whole temple was handed over to him as compensation. Due to the administrative difficulty the king of Kayamkulam handed over the right of the temple administration to one Thatchudaya Kaimal and it was his family which handled the temple till 1971. Koodalmanickyam is the Malayalam translation of the Sanskrit word Sangameswara.
Pooja at Koodalmanickyam Temple
There are only three Pooja and no Sivelis. There is no Usha Pooja and Pantheerady Pooja at this shrine. The deity is taken out for ceremonial procession only during the Annual Festival. There is no Deeparadhana. Sticks and camphor are not used for the pooja. The floral offerings to the deity consist of Lotus, Thulasi (ocimum sanctum) and Chethi (ixora). But they are not grown in the temple compound. No other flower is taken for Pooja or for making garlands.
Thamaramala (lotus garland) is an important offering to the deity. A full garland will be around twelve feet long and will have not less than 101 lotus flowers. Full flowers not their petals, are used in this garland. There is a strong and substantiated belief that if you offer a lotus garland before starting any new project or before the commencement of any important function like marriage.
The architecture of Koodalmanickyam Temple
The architecture used for the construction of this temple is a perfect example of Kerala Vasthuvidya. The eastern gopuram, anakkottil, koothambalam, sreekovils and namaskar mandapam are embedded with beautiful sculptures. The copper covered Sreekovils and namaskaramandapm with golden thazhikakkudams and the golden flag staff indicates the glory of this temple. There is no balikkalppura in this temple.
Some important festivals at Koodalmanickyam Temple
Ten Day festival
The Ten day annual festival in this temple is held in Medam(April/May). It starts the day after the famous Thrissur Pooram and goes on for 10 days. The first day of utsavam (festival) falls under the star Uthram, and the ceremonial flag is hoisted which marks the beginning of the festival. On all ten days, a sheeveli (procession of caparisoned elephants) is held twice, one in the forenoon and one at night.
A unique specialty of this temple utsavam is the fact that two baby elephants are made to stand on either side of the elephant carrying the thidambu (the deity). The last Two days of festival, Panchavadyam will be accomplished. The head gears (Netti pattam in Malayalam language) of seven elephants are made of pure gold and rest of pure silver is another uniqueness of this temple.Brahmakalasham is also an important part of this festival.
Thripputhari Festival at Koodalmanickyam Temple
Thripputhari on the Thiruvonam day in the month of Thulam (October-November) is another important occasion in the Temple. It is a day of feasting when the newly harvested rice is first cooked and offered to deity and then given to the devotees. The day after the feast, there is a special offering called Mukkudi, which is considered to be a divine medicine for all ailments.