Friday, September 5, 2008

Kavadi vritham

Observance of VrithaKavadi vritha is observed by the devotees after wearing a maala(strand) bearing the Ayyappa or Muruga mudra.They usually wear Kavi dhothi and observe complete celebacy. It is normally taken in the month of Khumbam - Meenam as the vritha period should last for at least 21 days. For kids there are exceptions in vritha.FastingThe very first rituals of Kavadi Vritha is fasting. As a mark of the fasting a Tulsi maala or a Rudraksha maala is put on. This is named Maladharanam or Mudradharanam. It is normally done by receiving the mala from the Neervilakom temple after a mala pooja conducted by the main priest. The mala is worn with prayers of the lord Dharmashastha.MaaladharanamKavadi devotees wear a mala to mark the begining of their vritha for Uthram Festival. 'Maaladharanam' is aimed at the entire change in the daily life of the devotee. It is for concentrating the mind on Dharmasastha, the symbol of all virtue and purity. Each devotee is called 'Swami' as he is considered pure and dedicated.Austerities & RegulationsThe austerities and regulations that has to be strictly followed for taking Kavadi Vratham at Neervilakom Temple. The vritham has to be undertaken after getting permission from parents. After this, the date is fixed to start the vritham.The previous day before the said date, one has to offer prayers to ones' family deity, thereby taking Her/His permission to commence the vritham.Previous day before starting the vritham, the devotee will cleanly shave, clip his nails, trim his hair and make himself physically clean. The holy mala / garland (tulsi / uthradsham) should be cleaned and smeared with sandal paste and placed before the portrait of Lord Ayyappa.On the day of starting the vritham the devotee shall wake up early, bathe and offer prayers to family deity, Navagrahas. The mala has to be received from the main priest with the chants of ‘Hara Haro Hara Hara”. After wearing the mala the devotee starts his pious life.The devotee shall withdraw from all social activities and spend his time by taking part in prayers, poojas, bajans, visiting temples, cleaning temples, feeding the poor, helping the poor/sick and attending religious discourses.He shall take only vegetarian food and refrain 100% from taking meat, intoxicating drinks / drugs, chewing betel leaves and from smoking.He shall bathe twice, if possible thrice, daily and perform pooja by at least chanting 108 Ayyappan Saranam. He shall continuously chant Saranam Ayyappa in mind, both at work and at home.He shall not hurt anybody verbally or physically.He shall treat all co-devotees as Lord Ayyappan himself and serve them in all the ways.He shall not feel proud of the respect and privileges he gets when he is wearing the holy mala. When others prostrate themselves on his feet he shall not feel proud but dedicate the same to Lord Ayyappan and say aloud 'Lord Save everybody for their faith in you'.He shall not cause inconvenience to his family members on account on observing the vritham.He shall strictly follow brahmacharya (celibacy) and refrain from sex, avoid thinking of sex, avoid developing a passion for women including his wife, and treat all women with motherly feeling.He shall not apply oil to his hair and shall not take bath with oil smeared over his body.He shall not attend any social functions like birthdays, engagement, wedding etc. and shall not take food in anyone's home who is not observing vritham.He shall avoid being in the proximity of dead body and shall not eat anything till he bathes if he accidentally sees a dead body.He shall always carry a tulsi leaf with him to prevent him from evil feeling and from Thitu.He shall not sleep on bed but on floor, he shall not use pillow but wooden block, he shall not use footwear but walk with bare feet.He shall totally surrender himself to Lord Ayyappa.One should remember that Lord Ayyappan of Neervilakom will continue to shower his blessings on any one who observes the above rules strictly.Visit to TemplesAfter Maaladharanam and before the Uthram day, one has to turn towards piety by visiting the temple twice a day and taking bath at holy pond near temple. He should recite Keerthanas and prayers and do poojas, offering his mind to God.'Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa' and ‘Hara Haro Hara Hara’ should be chanted at least on two occasions a day. Kavi dhothies are selected by the Devotees to wear. During these days, the Devotees should take bath before dawn and wear the sacred ash or Kalabham got from the temple. It symbolises a retreat from worldly life by offering the mind to God.CelebacyPure Brahmacharya (celibacy) is to be practised by a Devotee during the entire Vritham period. It is to be practised in word, deed and thought. Only vegetarian food, instantly cooked, and fresh fruits are to be eaten. The Devotees should sleep only on matresses avoiding pillows.Sathyam and AhimsaDuring the whole period of the Vratham, the Devotee has to practice Satyam, Ahimsa and simple life. Yama and Niyama should all be practised. A Devotee ought to be'Nishkama and Nishkrodha'. A Devotee should love all. He must be the embodiment of chastity and charity -- in short all the good human qualities. All these direct penances purify the body and mind of the devotee. Thus undertaking all such hardships for the Kavadiyattam, his mind reaches the divine peak by chanting the name of Dharma Sastha.

Important rituals related to uthram festival

Important Rituals Related to Uthram Festival
1. Kodiyettam
Kodiyettam is a ritual performed in the temples, which mark the beginning of a festival in Temple. The term kodiyettam means flag hoisting. There is flag post (Kodimaram) in between Temple and Anakkottil to perform this ceremonious flag hoisting. The Trikodi (flag hoisted to mark the start of a festival) is made of velvet in red, green, yellow, blue and white designs. There are specific measurements for making the Trikodi that specifies that it should only have a quarter of the length of the flag post on which it is hoisted. Neervilakom Uthram Festival will begin with hoisting the ceremonial flag in the auspicious muhurthom by Tantri Kandararu Maheswararu of Thazhamon Madam and Melsanthi Madhusudhanan Namboodiri will assist the tantri. The flag reflects the temple's spiritual energy. 2. Jeevida Ezhunnellathu
Jeevida ezhunnallathu as part of the 11-day annual festival at the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Neervilakom, held with religious fervour in the day of Uthram. Jeevatha is a familiar feature of Neervilakom Temple Festival. The jeevatha is decorated with red velvet cloth and copper plates that are embossed with symbols of the moon and an image of the deity. Creating the jeevatha is the most sacred of crafts and also the most difficult. Hundreds of devotees thronged the temple precincts on uthram to witness this event. Devotees believe witnessing Jeevida procession will bring them luck. Jeevida ezhunnallathu is conducting along with kavadiyattam, thirumunpil vela, pallivetta and aarattu.
3. Sree Bhutha bali:- Sree bhutha bali is a ritual which is performed thrice every day during Uthram festivel days. The Utsava Vigraha of the Lord (a miniature of the idol in panchaloha) is mounted on jeevidha and taken around within the four outer walls of the temple, three times, to the accompaniment of Chenda melam. There are beli Kallus representing the Lord's body guards, subsidiary deities and members of his entourage in the inner and outer prakara. The idea of Sree bhutha bali and the priest performing poojas at these places is that the Lord Himself standsby as offerings are made to his dependants. 4. Uthsava Bali:-5. Chuttuvilakku:- Chuttuvilakku is a beautiful sight in Neervilakom temple festival. Devotees light the oil or ghee lamps on the outer walls of the temple at sundown. The term Chuttuvilakku is derived from 'Chuttu' meaning 'surround' and 'vilakku' meaning 'lamp'. Chuttu vilakku thelikkal is not only the part of mandala uthsavam but it’s a part of Uthram maholsavam also at Neervilakom temple.6. Para veppu:- When the deity's idol is taken out in a procession the devotees whose homes fall on the way make offerings of paddy, fruit and jaggery. These are arranged delightfully in front of the temple and the procession collects these offerings as it proceeds. This ritual is called Paraveppu and is so known due to the brass or wooden measure (para) that holds these offerings. In the case of Neervilakom temple, para veppu is conducting in front of kodimaram during Festival days. Arippara and nelppara are the famous para veppu in Neervilakom temple.7. Idumban Pooja:- 8. Thalappoli:-Thalappoli is a ritual procession taken out by women and young girls of Neervilakom and neighbouring villages, which is said to attract prosperity to the community which holds the festival. They dress in traditional saree or dhavani and hold a thalam (plate) in their hands. The plate is filled with rice, flowers and a lighted lamp. This ritual is a part of Kodiyettam, Jeevidha ezhunnallathu, pallivilakku ezhunnallathu, plalli vetta and arattu ezhunnallathu.9. Shayana Pradikshanam:- In the Malayalam language, Shayana means “body” and Pradakshinam means “revolution,” so Shayana Pradakshinam means “revolution with the Body.” Prior to the start of the Uthram Festival there is a tradition of Urul Vazhipadu (Sayana Pradakshinam) by members of different ages in the vicinity of the temple.This devotional practice is done after one or two days of strong vritham and conducted in the early morning of Uthram day.10 Kavadiyattam
The climax of the festival is Kavadiyattom. Kavadiyattam conducts commonly in Subramanian temples. Neervilakom temple is belongs to lord Ayyappa, even though this temple conducts kavadiyattam. The group of devotees wearing Kavi or Black costumes with ash smeared all over the body, dance in a frenzy carrying Kavadis on their shoulders. Kavadis are colourful bow shaped wooden structures raising six to ten feet high. The ambalakavadi is structured and decorated like a temple. The Pookavadi has clusters of colourful paper, cloth or paper flowers arranged on them. The resounding beats of percussion instruments like chenda melam and pampamelam are the main attraction of kavadi procession. The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi and the day of the offering. He has to take Kavaedi vritham (See the page about the kavedi vritham) of at least 21 days. He has to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the Kavadi and at the time of ffering it to the Lord. The Kavadi-bearer's bare chest is covered with several 'Rudraksha Malas' (rosaries). The Kavadi-bearer observes celibacy. He takes only pure, Satwic food; he abstains from all sorts of intoxicating drinks and drugs, He continuously thinks of God. It gives him great power of endurance. The Kavadi-bearer is in a high state of religious fervour. He dances in ecstasy. His very appearance is awe-inspiring; there is divine radiance on his face. Devotees often experience the state of feeling complete union with the Lord.There are various types of kavadies. Nay (ghee) kavadi, Bhasma (ash) kavadi, Enna (oil) kavadi, Pal (milk) kavadi, Pananeer (rose water) kavadi etc are the major kavadies in Neervilakom Temple. The two small pots hanging at either end of the Kavadi contain Ghee, Milk, Oil or other articles that the devotee has vowed to offer to the Lord and the devotee must collect these articles or money equal to the selected article, by begging. They travel on foot from house to house, and beg from door to door.{ More details about kavediyattam will be posted soon}....................11. Ammankudam
The devotees of Bhagavathy perform a ritual dance known as Ammankudam. It's also known as karagatto or karakam thullal. They place pots on their heads and do a fine balancing act as they dance. The name Ammankudam comes from the words "Amman" as in "Mother" or “Goddess" and "Kudam" meaning pots. These pots are generally filled in with sacred substances used for the worship such as water, turmeric, sandal, flowers and neem leaves. Ammankudam is the main attraction of Uthram festival at Neervilakom Ayyappa temple. It conducts along with kavediyattam and thirumunpil vela.
12. Thirumunpil Vela
The ritual Velakali is performed in the temple courtyard. It is begun with the deity taken out in a procession on a Jeevitha. This is called Thirumumbil Vela which literally means that the performance is in front of the deity. If this ritual is performed near the temple pond, it is called Kulathilvela. The dancers numbering fifteen or more are dressed up like traditional soldiers with colourful shields and shining swords. Sometimes the swords are replaced with long canes. They go through war like steps in a line to the accompaniment of martial music with vigour and force. They display fighting techniques by coming forward from the line. The musical instruments like Thavil, Suddha Maddalam, Elathaalam, Horns and Trumpets are used for this art. Thirumunpil Vela starts from Parakkoodu (Beautiful paddy field near temple) around 2 pm in the after noon and after kulathil vela it ends in the courtyard of temple around 7 pm just before Thirumunpil seva. 13. Thirumunpil Seva:- The marvelous as well as magical effect of the Thirumunpil Seva (Nagaswaram), a combination of Tavil, Nagaswara kuzhal and chengala is to be felt and enjoyed. The famous Nagaswaram, here it’s known as thirumunpil seva because it conducts in front of Sreekovil (Thirumunpu in Malayalam) during Deeparadhana on Uthram day. Thirumunpil Seva starts in the early evening and last three to four hours. 14. Anpoly
Anpoly is an important offering to Ayyappa at the time of festival. Ayyappa is brought towards a specially erected pandal (Anpoly pandal) to offer five "paras"(old conventional device to measure paddy) filled with paddy, rice, avil, malar, and plantain fruit. Pandal is decorated with flowers. Flowers in large quantity are spread and fifteen nilavilakku are placed in a specially arranged manner. Ayyappa placed in Jeevatha on shoulders of priests dance the tune of orchestra like Chenda, Thavil, Nadaswaram etc is brought in procession. People in large numbers assemble to witness this procession between 10 pm and 3 am. Firing crackers are part of this vazhipadu.15. Palli VilakkuThis fiesta of lights is part of the Pallivilakku ritual, held as part of the annual Uthram festival of Neervilakom Ayyappa temple. Thousands of lamps will be lighted on the intricate wooden chariot-like lamp post, which can be moved with the help of thousands of devotees. The shells of Marotti (Hydnocarpus pentandra) fruit will be filled with natural oil to light lamps on these huge lamp post. They will be lighted and the huge lamp post is then carried by hundreds of devotees from the 'Kizhakke Aalthara' to the 'temple entrance' along with the 'Jeevitha'. Touching the 'Paalli Vilakku' during the procession is considered to be divine and is believed to neutralise the misconducts.To add to the splendor of the ritual, the post will be rotated fast, with the lamps still shining on them. The festival is one of those rare events in which such a large number of lamps are featured.
16. Pallivetta:- Pallivetta or the Holy Hunt depicts Lord Ayappa hunting an Asura (Demon) and slaying him. It is generally an important event in the Neervilakom temple festivals. The idol of the deity is taken out of the sanctum sanctorum in a lively procession and the hunt is symbolically conducted as devotees dressed as animals are hunted by the deity. Usually Arattu or the holy bath is conducted the day after the Pallivetta.17. Arattu:- Arattu is a bathing ritual. Also known as the Holy Bath, it is usually performed on the day after the Pallivetta (Holy Hunt) which is also generally the closing day of temple festivals. The deity is believed to be tired after the Palliveta and the idol is taken out in an opulent fashion to the nearby river or lake. The deity is then dipped in this water, robed and decorated regally and worshipped there. Now, the deity is ready to be taken back again in the grand procession accompanied by Jeevidha and the music of nadaswaram and chendamelam. Neervilakom Ayyappa temple conducts lord ayyappa’s arattu on the 11th day of festival at Kurichumuttam temple pond (this belongs to Neervilakom N S S karayogam). For arattu maholsavam loard Ayyappa starts his journey to Kurichumuttam after deeparadhana conducted in sreekovil on the 11th day evening and after arattu will come back on 12th day early morning with the support of theevetti and fireworks.18. Fireworks:- The Uthram festival is concluded with a spectacular fire works display, which is held in the early morning after the Aaraattu. The Neervilakom Karayogam presents many varieties of fire works with the help of sponsors which make spectators going into raptures. This famous, mighty and magnificent display of fireworks adds to the popularity of the Uthram festival and it attracts many people even from long distance.

Uthram festival

Uthram FestivalThe eleven days festival at Neervilakom Dharamashasta Temple is one of the most colorful temple festivals in Central Travancor area, Kerala. This festival attracts large masses of devotees and spectators not only from Neervilakom but the other parts of Central Travancore. This festival is a cultural highlight and is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Meenam (March -April) on Uthram Nakshathram. There is no other festival in Central Travancore that attracts such an unbelievable number of people. Among the varieties of festivals celebrated in Central Travancore, Uthram Festival is the most thunderous, spectacular and dazzling. It's an expression of sound and colour.The beginning of the Uthram festival is symbolised by `Kodiyettam' or hoisting of the flag on the temple flag post (kodi maram) by the Thazhaman madam Thantri Kandararu Maheshwararu during morning hours. This is done on Karthika or atham nakshatram days. The Ultsavam lasts for eleven days. Ultsava Bali will be conducted from 2nd day onwards.Different from the usual temple festival, the Uthram festival is well known for the beautiful and devoted Kavadiyattam with the back support of Chenda melam, Nagaswaram, Pampamelam and Ammankudam. The Uthram festival is also well known for Uthsava bali, Idumban pooja, Thirumunpil Velakali, Thirumunpil Seva and the magnificent display of fireworks.During Ultsavam days. Special poojas are offered to Lord Ayyappa who is believed to be omnipotent and omnipresent. During this period,poojas and rituals are also conducted in memory of the Lord’s `Bhootaganas' and their associates. These pooja is called Ultsava Bali. On the tenth day, Lord's Siveli Vigraham is symbolically taken out, along with the bhootaganas and their associates,for a tour around his territory (till Kizahkke Althara). This victorious procession is elaborately conducted and a huge crowd of pilgrims generally follow the procession. This is called Palli Vetta.When the Lord Returns to the temple,paeans are being sung narrating the history, the story and the exploits of Lord Ayyappa. Simultaneously this reminisce the devotees of the old legends. This form of song narration is called `Nayattu Vili'. Nayattu Vili is performed near sreekovil, throughout the temple festival days. The Lord hearing all these tributes sung during Nayattu Vili, relaxes in a contented mood at the Mandapam. This repose is called `Pallikkurupu'.On the 11th day of the Ultsavam, is the Aarattu. In this context, it is worth mentioning that normal bathing or cleansing of the holy idol is called `Abhishekam' while `Avagaha Snanam' is called `Aarattu' .The Lord who was reposing in peace at the Mandapam is gently awakened through prayers and chanting at Brahmamuhurtham (around 3 am) and is ceremoniously taken to the Sreekovil or Sanctum Sanctorum. Poojarituals are conducted there. After Usha Pooja, the Siveli vigraham (a smaller replica of the idol at the Sanctum Sanctorum, symbolising the powers that are inherent in the main idol) is taken out in royal procession from Sreekovil to Kurichumuttam. The Aarattu Kulam at Kurichumuttam, the idol is given an abhishekam of `Haridra Churna' (manjal podi). With `Punyaham' and `mantra sudhi' the idol is given a bath by immersion in holy pond by the main thanthri of the temple Madhusudhanan Nambuthiri. En roote and on the return journey, the procession is enthusiastically welcomed at many points with Nirapara and nilavilakku and from kizhakke althara onwards with pallivilakku. Aaratu signifies the end of the temple Ultsavam (festival).Uthram festivals at Neervilakom Dharamashastha Temple is an excellent examples of teamwork. All sections of the community do participate for its success. Apart from devoted volunteers, Uthram Festivals call upon the services of experts in Tantra and Rituals, Astrologers, flower decorators, musicians, and in addition to effective managers , leaders as also masters of ceremonies and others. It is an occasion when the entire community comes together, works as a team, and shares its burden, responsibility and successMean while, in this year festival at the Neervilakom Temple will get underway on March 12th Wednesday with the hoisting of flag at 7-30 p. m. The eleven-day festivities will see also cultural and entertainment programmes including so many stage programs and musical concerts.

Main Offerings

1. Pantheeru Naazhi 2. Aravana payasam (sweet rice pudding), is one of the most important ‘prasadam’ (offering made to the Lord) distributed at the Neervilakom Temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. It’s a mixture of fried rice, ghee, jiggery, raisins and cashews.There is an interesting story behind these prasadams. The Raja of Pandalam admitted Ayyappa to a famous Kalari (gymnasium where traditional martial arts of Kalaripayattu is taught) at Cheerappanchira in Cherthala in Alappuzha district. The young daughter, Leela, of Kalari Panicker fell in love with Ayyappa. But Ayyappa was so involved in his studies that he didn't notice the girl's infatuation. Soon the girl started bringing him food to capture his attention. Time passed by and the girl reached her puberty. And her family, following the Hindu tradition, prepared special cuisines to celebrate the occasion. One mandatory item on the menu is Rthumathikanji (porridge made using rice and five times the quantity of jaggery). On that day she took this porridge to Ayyappa, who was practicing payattu in the Kalari. He liked it very much and requested the girl to bring only the porridge everyday. It is believed that the practice of offering Aravana as prasadam to the God was born from this incident.3. Appam or Unni Appam is small round shaped rice cake sweet made from rice, Jaggery, PlantainBanana, Ghee etc. This is one of the famous Kerala Sweets and is a main offering to the Lord Ayyappa at Neervilakom. In the Malayalam language Unni means small and Appam means rice cake.4. Kadumpayasam is one of the importent naivedyam in Neervilakom sree Ayaappa Temple. It is called Kadum payasam because of the extreme sweetness. The preparation of kadumpayasam is almost like Aravana.5. Nirajanam (Thiladeepam) 6. Pushpanjali is one of the main offerings to Neervilakom Sree Ayyappa. The name "Pushpanjali" stands for saluting and offering flowers to God. In Sanskrit, Pushpa means "flower" and anjali means "offering with folded hands". So Pushpanjali means offering of flowers with folded hands. This is conducting inside the sreekovil by melshanthi in the name and star of the devotee, who offered the pushpanjali for Ayyappa.Vella Nivedhyam is also an important offering in Neervilakom Ayyappa Temple. Preparation is almost like kadum payasam, but without sweet and JaggeryPaal Paayasam. Panchamrutham.Abhishekam. Neyyabhishekam. Kalabhabhishekam. Pushpaabhishekam. Archana. Lakshaarchana. Sahsra naama arcana.Mukkutti Archana.Special Archana (for Sreechakram).Ganapathi Homam.Usha pooja.Nithya pooja.Ucha pooja.Mukham Charthu.Bhagavathi Seva is the most important offering at the Neervilakom Temple, but this offer is for bhagavathi. The ritual is being performed under the leadership of the melsanthi after deeparadhana.The ritual is conducted inside the Temple Mathurusala. Appam and kadum payasam are the nivedyam for the Bhagavathi. Arati will be performed on the conclusion of the ritual.

Sree Dharma sastha temple

History and MythOur God's own country is a land of temples and temple legends. Temples have held an important place in the life of the people of Kerala. The history of the Kerala temples dates back to the Cheras of the 3rd century BC. Cheras and Pandyas renovated or constructed several temples in Kerala and the rulers of Travancore kingdom were ardent patrons of temples. Temples in Kerala used to be called in earlier times as mukkalvattom. Later they came to be called ambalam or kshetram.The Sree Ayyappa temple at Neervilakom is dated to this period on the basis of inscription and stylistic evidences.Architecture The architectural style of Neervilakom sree Ayyappa temple has an inherent simplicity. Neervilakom sree Ayyappa Temple have a distinct style of its own by the lavish use of wood and stone. Wood is used because of rich forest cover in the ancient Neervilakom. The base structure of the temple is made using rock. Neervilakom temple shrine is rectangular in shape. The roof is one storied and it’s also in rectangular shape. The steep like roof is made of wood and is covered with roof tiles in order to protect the inner skeletal framework from the vigorous climate changes. Sreekovil roof is also covered with roof tiles. The sreekovil walls are decorated with murals and roof is decorated with different wood works.According to Kularnava Tantra human body itself is a temple and Sadashiva or Paramathma is the diety in the temple. This sidhantha(theory) is adopted in the construction of Neervilakom Sree Ayyappa Temple also. Sreekovil or Garbhagruham (sanctum sanctorum) is considered as the head of the diety, Antharalam or inner Balivattom is considered as the face of the diety, Mukhamandapam or Namaskara mandapam is considered as the neck of the diety, Nalambalam is considered as the hands of the diety, Pradakshinaveethi is considered as the Kukshi pradesa (stomach) of the diety, compound wall is considered as the legs of the diety and the main Gopuram is considered as the foot of the diety. That means Panchaprakaras (Prakaram or compound wall, Bahyahara or Sheevelippura, Madhyahara or Vilakkumadam, Anthahara or Nalambalam and Antharalam or inner Balivattom) of the Temple is the Sthoola Sareera (visible part of the body) of the diety. The Deva Prathishta or idol inside the Sreekovil or Garbhagruha and the Shadaadharas (Aadharashila, Nidhikumbham, Padmam, Koormam, Yoganaalam and Napumsaka shila) under the prathishta is the Sookshma Sareera (soul) of the diety. The Dwajam (flag staff) or Kodimaram is the spinal code of the diety. Hence Neervilakom sree Ayappa temple resembles a human body in all aspects.The major parts of Neervilakom Ayyappa Temple.Sree Dharamashastha PrathishtaDeva Prathishta or idol of the Sree Dharama shastha is the most important part of a Neervilakom Ayyappa temple. The vigraha (deity) here is swayambhu (self-born), apyramidic rock that seems to have grown up naturally from inside the earth.The speciality of Neervilakom Dharma Shastha Idols Sreekovil. Idols are made according to the Dhyana Slokams. Apart from the normal daily worship rituals for propitiating the deities, there are many Thaanthrik rituals aiming at increasing the glory and power of the deities and sometimes for atonement for any fading of such power.Sreekovil or Sanctum SanctorumThe part of the temple where the idol of the Lord is situated is referred to as the Sreekovil. Position of Sreekovil in the temple is equivalent to the position of Sahasrara Padmam in a human body.Sreekovil is in rectangular shape and have one storied roof covered with roof tiles. The Sreekovil has only one wall and it is of Nirandhara style. The top of the sanctum has a pointed Panchaloha structure called Tazhikakkudam or sthoopika.SopanamThe holy steps in front of the sanctum sanctorum is called Sopanam. In Neervilakom Ayyappa temple the sopanam has stone idols of guards of the God called as Dwarapalakas. Sopanam is made up of rock. Only temple priests are allowed to enter through this holy steps.Pradakshinavattam or Akathe balivattamIt is located just outside the sanctum. The Ashta-Dik-paalakas (Indra, Agni, Yama, Nruryathi, Varuna, Vaayu, Soma and Isaana), Saptha Mathrukkal (Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi) , Veerabhadra, Ganapathy, Anantha, Durga, Subrahmanya, Kubera, Nirmalyadhari and Brahma the guards of the main deity are represented here by using stones of different shapes and are generally called Balikkallu. These balikkallus are covered with bronze sheets.MathrusalaMathrusala is located near the Sreekovil. It is an extended portion of Nalambalam towards Sreekovil to cover the Saptha Mathru balikkal. Hence the name Mathrusala. Usually the Utsavabali ritual is performed in the Mathrusala.Namaskara MandapamNamaskara Mandapam is located in front of the sopanam facing the sanctum. It is used by the priests for Sashtanga Namaskara after poojas like Usha pooja, Pantheeradi pooja and Ucha pooja. Hence the name Namaskaramanadapam. It is square in shape and has a roof that stand on four pillars and has a Tazhikakkudam made of Panchaloha. Usually Veda Japam and Kalasha Pooja is done at the Namaskara Mandapam and so it is also called Kalasha Mandapam.Nalambalam Nalambalam is also called chuttambalam. Their function is to protect the temple as they cover the temple on all sides. They are less broad on the surrounding three sides and are called chuttambalam. Between Nalambalam there is a passage for devotees to enter and exit.ThidappallyThidappally is the kitchen of a temple. Thidappally is constructed to the left side of the Namaskara Mandapam as an enclosure in the south eastern corner of the Nalambalam. Nivedyams to be offered to the deity is prepared in the Thidappally. None other than the priests and Tantri of the temple is allowed inside the Thidappally.MulayaraMulayara is a special room of the chuttambalam and is used for Mulapooja on special days like Utsavam, Sahasra Kalasam and Ashtabandha Kalasam.Well Its position is at the North-East, of the Nalambalam. Its water has to be exclusively used for abhisheka or preparation of nivedya.ChuttuvilakkuA distictive feature of Neervilakom Temple is Chuttuvilakku, or the multi-tiered brass lamps in front of temples. It is a spectacular celebration of traditional lighting where tiers of small oil lamps lining the outer walls of the inner prakaram are lit. It is located outside the Nalambalam. In between the Nalambalam and Chuttuvilakku there is an open area.BalikkalpuraIt faces the sanctum and is the extended portion of the passage in between the Nalambalam. The large, Valiya Balikkallu (principal bali-peeta) is located here. The roof of the Balikkalpura have the wooden sculptures of Ashtadikpalaka. Valiyabalikkallu is also decorated with sculptures.Dwaja or KodimaramThis tall pillar is visible from a distance. It bears on the top the Ayyappa’s vahana Horse as emblem and one can identify the deity of a temple by seeing it. Ashtadikpalaka idols were placed at the bottom part of the dwaja. Kodimaram is used for hoisting kodi or flag during festivals. It is located outside the balikkalpura and is made of concrete and covered with bronze.AnakkottilAnakottil facing balikkalpura is located in front of the Dwaja It is the place where elephants or Jeevitha stand during festivals. It is also used for functions like marriage, choroonu, parayeduppu, thulabharam and bhajans.Pradakshina Vazhi This is the place used for Kazcha Sreebali, Usual Valam veppu, Shayana Pradhakshanam etc. The Thirumuttam surrounded by the temple itself called Pradakshina Vazhi.Gopuram Neervilakom Sree Ayyappa has a huge, attractive and multi storied Gopuram in its east side, constructed with stones. The Gopuram is connected to the outer compound wall of the temple.Upa devadasThe main Upadevathas in Neervilakom Sree Ayyappa temple premises are Yakshi (concept of bewitchingly attractive fairy witches who feed on human blood, especially that of children, and with super natural powers), Rakshas (a fierce super natural creature who feed on humans),Ganapathi (Son of God Shiva and Goddess Parvathynd and Ganapathi is worshipped essentially for removing obstacles and for gaining Prosperity), Nagarajav (King of serpents), Naga Yakshi (Queen of Serpents), Bhramini Amma (Mother of bhramana, who resides in Murkkavelil illam, the illam of malshanthi of Neervilakom temple and she is worshipped by her descendants after death) Besides, there is a small temple for Sudharshana chakra (Sudarshana Chakra of Vishnu Discipline. Sudarshana Chakra Sadhana Praising the Victory of Sudarshana Chakra). Apart from this another Nagraga and nagayekshi kavu (a patch of small forest which houses the serpent Gods, ) near to the temple (but not inside the temple compound) which belongs to Thompilethu kudumbam.Mathil or Outer walls There is an outermost protective covering of the temple. Temple is well protected with compound walls in Mathil style and the compound is more than an acre.TheerthakkulamNeervilakom Sree Ayyappa Temple has a big sacred pond or Theerthakkulam. The water of the temple pond is used for washing one’s hands and feet before going into the temple, bathing, and for the Abhavritha snanam during Sapthaha Yangam..