NORTH VILLAGE MELARCODE
Our Village known as North Village, Melarcode (Palakkad District) is located about 25 kilometres from Palakkad Town and surrounded by paddy fields and greeneries. It is a tiny village free from hustles and bustles of urban life. There are about 25 houses in this village inhibited purely by the Brahmin families, the forefathers of whom are said to be migrated from Tamil Nadu-Tirunelveli and Thakazhi several decades ago. The affairs of the village are managed by a Brahmana Samooham constituted by the villagers for the purpose. The co-operation of the villagers is noteworthy and because of the same the affairs of the village are carried on smoothly. The Samooham has provided piped water supply to the residents of the agraharam and also a community hall for conducting marriages and other functions. A Very big tank belonging to the Samooham is available at the outskirt of the village and it serves the whole inhabitants in and around the area as this is the only tank in the area where water would be available during summer. The village is connected with motorable road from Palakkad through which buses are plying.
Many of the families of this village were owners of substantial acreage of lands but consequent on the implementation of the Land Reforms Act in Kerala, many of them were deprived of the possession of these lands and thereby they had to seek alternative source of income of their livelihood and this forced some of them to leave the village. But their interest and co-operation in the village affairs are still maintained by them as before as evident from their active participation in the festivals of the village, etc. The residents of this village are highly religious minded and God fearing from time immemorial and the forefathers were proficient in chanting Vedas in general, Rudram, Chamagam,etc. and were paying special attention to this subject. They were also service minded people and earmarking funds for providing amenities to the general public in the area, one such item being Thaneer Pandal, where butter milk,panakam, etc. were being supplied to the public in the summer season. Meals were also being supplied both in the morning and night for those Brahmin who came to this village from agraharam nearby, from out of the funds donated by a Philanthropist of this village. Similarly for the Lord Mahaganapathy Temple in the village, they had donated huge amounts for improvements/additional structures to the temple, ornaments to the Diety, etc. One Utsava Vigraham made of Panchaloha and the required funds for the Neivedyams, etc. were donated by another devotee. They have conducted Yagas in the village and the distinction of conducting the first Athirudram in the Temmalappuram sector goes to the families settled in our village.
The effects of all these kainkaryams (acts) are now being reflected on the present generation by way of blessings of the Lord Mahaganapathy, enabling them to lead a peaceful and prosperous life and full success in all their attempts. The following illustrations will also throw some light as to how our forefathers were very generous in respect of the village/temple affairs. The Brahmana Samooham/Temple had many landed properties paddy fields which were under the tenancy system and the revenue derived from them were being utilised for the maintenance and other running expenditure of the temple. Consequent to the implementation of the Land Reforms Act by the Kerala Government, the tenants became the owners of these lands with the result we were deprived of the revenues we were getting from the land apart from the paddy requirements of the temple for daily Neivadyam, salary to the Archagar, etc. One such tenant was however a philanthropist of our village itself and he made a gesture of handing over back the entire lands of the temple/samooham held by him under the tenancy system and only because of this the paddy requirements of the temple are now met without any dislocation.
Consequent on the loss of the revenue referred to above, there were dearths of funds to meet the other expenditure of the temple such as fuel, oil for the lamps, service charges, etc. The moment this was put forth before the villagers, all of them joined hands and immediately donated very liberally to create funds and also proposed that we could from a Trust and create further funds and the interest accrued thereon could be earmarked for meeting these items for expenditure. The off-shot of this proposal is the formation of the ‘North Melarcode Mahaganapathy Pooja Trust’ which has also since been registered and this is managed by a Board of Trustees elected from among the villagers. Apart from the initial donations made by the villagers, a noble ‘Nakshatra Archana Scheme’ has been introduced and for those who donate Rs.251/- under the scheme, archana to the Lord will be performed every year on the birthday of the Donor and the prasadams sent to him/her immediately. This scheme is working quite satisfactorily with the blessings of the Lord. To augment of funds, the devotees of this village residing in Mumbai also gave a helping hand by transferring to this Trust the funds (Rs.12000/-) created by them in the past in the name of Ganesh Samaj. It may not be out of place of highlight here that the Co-operation of the members of the village is the back bone for the smooth functioning of the village/temple affairs, apart from, of course, the blessings of LORD MAHAGANAPATHY.
NORTH VILLAGE MELARCODE MAHAGANAPATHY TEMPLE
On the western end of the North Village (Agraharam), Melarcode stands a small picturesque Temple and the presiding deity bring Lord Mahaganapathy. The unique design of the idol is that the thumbhikkai (trunk) runs towards left as against right side usually seen in other temples. This temple is more than 400 years old since its construction. The present idol made of stone is said to be third, the former two having been immersed in the Palasam Kulam (tank) belonging to the village. From the very inception of the temple and till date the poojas are performed regularly in strict accordance with the Agama Sasthra by hereditary purohits. The Garbagruham is made of stone all round and this is surrounded by the prakarams. Abutting the temple is the agraharam with two rows of houses. The design and setup of the idol is so attractive that an devotee praying in front of him goes back with full content and he achieves the object prayed for as narrated by many devotees. Though we pray him as Lord Mahaganapathi, it is revealed by the astrologer that he is also LAKSHMI GANAPATHI and therefore Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth is also with him and only with this background the villagers , though few in number, are always able to conduct the festivals of the temple in a very fitting manner, the required resources presumably being poured in by Himself in the form of contribution by the devotees. In conclusion it has to be taken that the North Village Mahaganapathi is the Vedic Supreme Deity and His worship is being accepted from far and near and all who remember him in worship are sure to get success.
(Reproduced from 1992 Mahakumbhabhishekam Souvenir release on 08-05-1992)
IMPORTANT FESTIVALS OF THE TEMPLE
The important festivals are as follows:
This is celebrated for seven days in the month of April/May with the hoisting of the sacred flag on the Dwajasthambam (Dwajarohanam) on the day on which the star poosam falls after the new moon occurring in the Tamil month of Chithirai (Medam in Malayalam) the festival commences. On the previous day evening vasthusanthi is performed to ward off the evils. For all the days of Utsavam much importance is given for Veda Parayanam by learned pundits. There will be Abhishekams and special poojas during this period. For the first six days the Utsavamoorthy is taken in procession in a Decorated Ratham (car) specially built for the purpose within the agraharam during nights. This procession will be accompanied by Nadaswaram and Veda Parayanam. On the Seventh day which usually would be on the day on Chithirai Star, the main Utsavam is celebrated. On this day around 5.30AM Prathikshaya Mahaganapathy Homam will be performed and after completion Rudhrabhishekam and Poomodal for the Presiding Deity will took place and at around 9.00AM the Utsava Moorthi is taken in procession on Caparisoned Elephants through the entire agraharam. When the devotees would offer, for the Lord Paddy, Rice, Jaggerry, Plaintain, Malar, Sugar, Avil and Coins in containers and this is known as “NIRAPARA”. This procession would be accompanied by Chanda Melam and it would be over by about 12 noon and thereafter Maha Dheeparadhana takes place and Annandhanam will be served in our Padasala.
The second session starts at 2 PM with the Kelikottu at the temple premises and there after Panchavadhyam commences at 2.45 PM. After playing the instruments there for about one hour the procession with Caparisoned Elephants starts with Panchavadhyam and when it reaches the Eastern Side of the Agraharam the Panchavadhyam comes to an end and Pandimelam played with Chenda commences and the procession returns to the temple around 7 PM and Maha Dheeparadhana takes place during this hour the full temple will be decorated with Dheepams and Niramala which is a worth watching and thereafter there will be display of Fireworks.
The night session at about 10 PM there will be display of the Chenda Instrument by experts on this line called “Thayambaka”. On completion of this programme at about 2 AM again the session starts from Kelikottu at the temple premises and there after Panchavadhyam commences at 2.45 AM. After playing the instruments there for about one hour the procession with Caparisoned Elephants starts with Panchavadhyam and when it reaches the Eastern Side of the Agraharam the Panchavadhyam comes to an end and with Panchari Melam procession and this goes on till dawn before termination in front of the temple and thereafter for the Elephants food will be served.
Later, at about 9 AM on that day (8th day), the Manjaneer Arattu takes place with One Elephant where the Utsava Moorthi is taken procession in the Agraharam and thereafter to the Pallasamkolam (tank) for a holy bath after the prescribed rituals when the villagers also take bath in the tank as a sacrifice. After returning to the temple the Dwajarohanam (bringing down of the sacred flag) takes place and Mahadheeparadhana is performed to the Deity and with this the Annual Utsavam Celebrations come to a close.
On a suitable day (Wednesday or Saturday) within the Utsavam period referred to as above “SASTHAPREETHI” is celebrated to please Dharma Sastha when special poojas are performed and Devotional Songs in praise of the Lord are presented and feast served to all the residents in the Agraharam as well as to those in the neighbouring areas. Moreover during the Utsavam Celebrations before the Main Utsavam Day “MAHAGANAPATHY LAKSCHARCHANAI” is performed and prasadams will be distributed.
This falls in the month of Avani (August/September) every year. Special Poojas and Abhishekams are performed in the morning and the Unchavrithi Deity is taken in procession in the Ratham and in the Night Special Neivedyam of “ELAYADA” is offered to the Presiding Deity and will be distributed.
This is celebrated for 9 days in the month of Purattasi (September/October). The members of the village offer Abhishekam to the Deity, by turn in the morning with Dravyams such as Milk, Curd, Panchamirtham, etc. and in the Evening there will be Illumination with Dheepams in the Temple. After Mahadheeparadhana Bhajan will be there and after Special Neivedyams such as Kozhakkattai, Neiyappam, and Plantains, etc. will be distributed. On the 10th day (Vijaya Dasami) there will be special chanting of Vedas in the morning followed by KALABHABHISHEKAM (KALABHAM) to the Deity for which 4 to 5 litres of Pure Solid Sandal Paste. After adding the required perfumery items the sandal paste is converted into semi-liquid form and thereafter applied on the head (Sirasu) of the Idol which would cover the Presiding Deity fully and the next day the sandal paste is distributed as prasadam to all the villagers. After the Kalabhabhishekam there will also be a feast for the villagers.
This is usually celebrated on the Second Saturday in the month of December in praise of Lord Ayyappa. In the morning at around 8 AM there will be “LAKSHARCHANA” to Lord Dharmasastha will be performed. A namavali ‘MADHAGAJA VAHANA MAHAMATHE HARIHARA SOONO NAMOSTHUTHE” will be sung nonstop for 12 hours from 8 PM to next day 8 AM and thereafter Mahadheeparadhana. The celebration will conclude with a lunch to the villagers.
Apart from the above, daily Ganapathy Homam during the month of Adi, Avani Avittam (Sravanam), Mandala Pooja, Special Pooja and Abhishekam on Pradosham days, Panaka Pooja on the day of Thai Poosam, etc, are also performed in the temple.
(Reproduced from Souvenir released during the Maha Kumbhabhishekam held on 31.05.2002)
MELARCODE KAVADI POOJA
Thaipoosam is an important festival celebrated for Lord Subramanya. The major attraction of this pooja is the offering of Kavadi to Lord Subramanya by devotees. Kavadiyattam is associated with the thaipoosam festival. Thaipoosam is celebrated during the Malayalam month of Makaram (January-February) and the day of the star Poosam around Pournami (Full Moon).
In North Melarcode village, Kerala, the Kavadi pooja festival is being celebrated in a grand scale, by the SUBBARAMA PATTER’s Family. This festival has been continuing for the past 380 years by the descendants. Prime importance is given to the spiritual aspects such as Rudra abishekam, Vel Pooja and Singing of the ever green Kavadi songs. The Kavadi pooja is performed on the auspicious Kirthigai day in the Tamil Month of Thai (January). During the pooja, “Vellam (Jagary) Mudira” is filled in and the same will be attached to both sides of the Kavadi.
The Kavadi from Melarcode is very attractive and beautiful in all aspects and it is a testimony of the perfect workmanship. The Kavadi is of various sizes, the arched structure decorated with flowers, peacock feathers, velvet silk clothes of various colours. It takes the labour of 60 days with 10 skill full labourers working on it. The main components are the flowers, flags, the balls and the garland-all of which are made of netti-which is specially brought from Kolkatta every year. It must be noted that the Kavadis are remanufactured every year afresh. After pooja, devotees who are prepared to take the Kavadi will seek the blessing from the guru and the guru places the Kavadi in their shoulders. The Panaka pooja is conducted during the night of the Kavadi pooja day. Next day early in the morning the family members and associates aggregating around 200 people will start the Kavadi yatra to the temple town of Palani, walking the distance of 120 kilometers in 5 days.
Elaborate arrangements are in place at all the halting point’s enroute to Palani. Food is served for the Kavadi troupe and other devotees who join them at various points during the Kavadi yatra. Upon reaching Palani, the famous Panchaamirtham is prepared using the Vellam Mudira. Panchaamirtham Abishekam is performed to Lord Subramanya on the Thaipoosam day. Milk Abishekam is performed to the deity the next day.
During the entire journey, Kavadiyattam and bhajans are conducted keeping the devotees spell bound. The pooja is performed with a very spiritual fervour chanting the Kavadi songs. After Melarcode Late.Vaidyan Subramania Iyer, it is Shri.M.V.Krishna Iyer, his younger brother who is on the saddle now.
Several songs have been composed by the family members. ‘Sree Subramania Subrapatham’ has been composed by Late M. S. S. Mani Iyer, the founder Trustee of “Mayuravaha Charities”, (Bharat Batteries). He dedicated the Subrapatham to Lord Muruga at the Palani Temple. ‘Karthikeya Pancharathinam’ has been composed by Brahamashri M. V. Krishna Iyer.
Recently a CD titled “MELARCODE KAVADI POOJA” released by Mayuravaha Charities is the first of its kind in the WORLD. The CD in the mp3 format consists of Viruthams, Panaka Pooja Songs and Murugan Bhajan Songs for duration of 3 hours. The CD was launched at the Ancestral House at North Village, Melarcode with the traditional Rudra Abishekam, Vel Pooja & Panaka Pooja.
The main objective of this CD released is to propagate this ancient tradition in all parts of the world and serve as a precursor for the younger generation to take up this evergreen padathi in a big way.