Neelamperoor pooram Patayani

Pally Bhagavathi Temple, Neelamperoor has a history of about 1700 yrs and it is one of the few relics of the Buddhist culture in Kerala. It is situated about 3 Kms west of Kurichy Out post in Kottayam-Changanacherry M.C.Road . It was built at a time (between AD 250- 300) when Buddhism was at hay day of its prosperity. It is said that Banavarma,Other wise known as Cheramanperumal, who the sole emperor of Kerala, had become a Buddhist monk and spent the last days at Neelamperoor. While he was the ruler of KeralaHindus accused him of having favoured Buddhism they even refused to co-operate with him. As matters came to a head, he agreed to conduct a debate about Hinduism and Buddhism. If Buddhists won the debate Hindus had to accept Buddhism .If they failed the king agreed to abdicate the throne. Accordingly scholars of both the religions participated in the contest. Hindus arranged six eminent scholars from south India to argue their case. The Buddhists lost the case. There upon Cheramanperumal abdicated the throne and left the palace as a Buddhist monk. Thus he came to Neelamperoor and built a Buddha Vihara.

As years passed Buddhism lost its power and prestige in Kerala. It was at this period of Hindu renaissance that this Devi temple had been constructed. Even before the arrival of Cheramanperumal a temple was here dedicated to lord Siva. It was owned by ten Brahmin families known as Pathillathil pottimar. Neelakanta is another name for Siva and hence the place came to be called Neelamperoor. Dissatisfied with the arrival of perumal the Brahmins with the idol of Siva migrated to Vazhappally in Changanacherry It is said that perumal had consecrated the image of perinjanathu Bhagavathi in Thrissur.
The principal deity of the temple is Goddess Vanadurga. On the southeast corner behind the sanctum sanctorum we find the image of the Snake god. Outside the main temple are the temples of Lords Ganapathi, Siva, Dharmasastha,Mahavishnu and Rakshas.The priest of this temple belongs to Kollapally Madom in Neelamperoor. On special occasion the chief priest from the family Kannampally at Ayamkudy comes. Every day poojas are performed . The Maharaja of Travancore sponsored the first pooja of every day, but his sponsorship stopped with the decay of monarchy. Pudding ofcourse is the main offering to propitiate the deity; but its preparation differs from what it is in other temples. The water for this purpose is taken from the unripe coconut. The festivals of the temple are two in number- the ten day festival in the solar month meenam with its nineth day falling on pooram and the pooram padayani which starts from the day next to Thiruvonam in Chingam ( the first solar month of the Keralite calendar ) and lasts till Pooram, the birth day of the deity. Neelemperoor Pooram Padayani is held at the precincts of the beautiful temple of Goddess Bhagavathy at Neelemperoor near Kottayam. Padayani is a symbolic victory march of Goddess Kaali after vanquishing Darika.

During the pooram festival, decorated motifs of Swans;both large and small, form part of the Kettukazcha the symbolic offering made to the Goddess. These are then carried in a procession, on the main day of the festival in which bigger ones are moved on platforms with wooden wheels and smaller ones carried on the shoulders of devotees. A unique aspect of the motif decoration here at Neelemperoor is the sourcing of different colours. The required colours are taken from the surroundings, in the form of leaves, flower petals, parts of the coconut tree and other local plant varieties.

The procession is conducted at night and in its course towards the temple;it is accompanied by the reverberating beats emanating from several traditional drums (Chenda) along with clanging of Cymbals that fills the air with a captivating rhythm.

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