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There is a beautiful and aesthetic looking temple just at the outskirts of Palakkad Town, Kerala (India). The entire atmosphere surrounding the temple is so serene that just sitting there for some time makes one feel the sanctity and divinity. The presiding deity is Goddess Bhagavathy, considered to be Lord Siva’s daughter, Bhadrakaali, born out of the sacred “Jada” or Lord Shiva during Dakshayaga.
History of the Temple
A saintly Brahmin once prayed and perfected the Manappully Bhagavathy, so the folklore goes. He did the prayers in his kitchen which is also known as the madapalli. That must be in course of time and usage, became “Manapulli”. This Brahmin’s house was part of the “Yagakkara” where Agnihothra yajhnas were performed. This, in turn, must have changed to become “Yakkara”, the present name. It is presumed that the place where this temple is situated derived its name from this.
Manapullikavu Vela is a festival honoring the deity at Manapullikavu called ‘Manapulli Bhagavathy’. The festival is celebrated between last week of February and first week of March based on the Malayalam Calendar year. The celebration starts with ‘Kodiyettam’ (flag hoisting on a bamboo pole) which declares the ‘Vela'(Festival) has started. After the Kodiyettam, a week full of pooja ceremonies and evenings with colorful cultural programmes are organized by the ‘Vela Committee’ (Festival Committee) which all ends with the grand day ‘Manapullikavu Vela’. Lot’s of devotees from various parts of Kerala and other southern states of India come for worshipping Bhagavathy on this auspicious day. The Vela day starts early with poojas to the Bhagavathy. The ‘Chaandh Abishekam’, one of the important pooja during the day attracts flocks of devotees. ‘Vedikettu’ (Firework) is also an important attractive element of the festival which is organized in the evening around 9 PM and early morning by 4 AM. The Vela day is declared as Local Holiday which shows the importance of the festival.
Manapullikavu Vela consists of small velas from other desams. Velas from West Yakkara, Vadakkanthara, Vennakkara, Koppam is some of them. These small velas come together to make the final show. Plenty of chariots (bull carts and other motorized vehicles) take part in Manapullikavu Vela.
Manapullikavu temple is near Yakkara Village, which is considered to be the place of origin of this temple. The name Yakkara has derived from two words in Malayalam- “YAGAM” & “KARA”. These two words combine to form the name “Yagakkara” which changed into Yakkara in due course of time.
The Relevance of the Temple and the Deity
In today’s busy society, these temples take us back to our roots and culture. Every day there are three main poojas to the deity. One can hear the bursting of Vedi (Kathina) at the time of Deeparadhana (Aarathi) every day on three occasions. The sound is heard for about two to three kilometers and everyone is mentally reminded of the poojas at the temple as a constant and ever-living force.
There are 96 villages called (Agraharams) in Palakkad District, out of which 18 are right within and around the Palakkad Town. The ancestors of most of these villages and all other communities living in Palakkad made it a point to visit this temple regularly since ancient times. For many families, this temple is considered to be very important. In fact, they had declared that they and their descendants are subservient to this temple, so they call this temple as their Adimakavu. Since many families and their children have migrated throughout India and abroad, even after many generations, persons who have roots in Palakkad make it a point to visit this temple whenever they get an opportunity. Such practices make the person remember his roots even after generations.
The temple festival is a unifying force for the people of the region. The perception is not localized as the festivals are representative of the unifying force spread over all living beings in the universe. So the outlook of the person broadens by the thoughts and participation in these festivities. During the festivities period, many folk and traditional arts are performed in front of the temple. This helps encourage the ancient art forms and folklore. This is very important in today‘s society, as otherwise, these arts will not be remembered anymore.