“The Mullackal Chirrappu…A festival that brings all the near and dear ones from all over …”
This week I am once again taking you through my little town “Alappuzha”. “The Venice of the East” -a land of canals and lagoons. It is a well-known tourist destination. Alappuzha is sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and a network of rivers. It’s a land where you can go for houseboat cruises in the rustic backwaters. The backwaters of our town are one of the most popular attractions in Kerala. Its a Hub for backwater tourism. It a land of the famous Snake Boat Races which is held every year. We have a rich heritage of temples and churches. Mullackal temple is a very famous temple. And the Mullackal Chirrappu is one of the biggest attractions of Alappuzha. This week I am going to take you through this famous Chirappu of my town
The Mullackal Devi temple is situated in the heart of the busy town and it is a unique temple. It is a multi-faith place of worship. The temple is known as Mullakkal Rajarajaeswari temple or Mullackal Bhagwati temple. The temple is accessible for devotees from all castes and religions. The temple is built in the old Kerala architectural style. There are several myths to the origin of the temple. The temple compound has plenty of trees and jasmine plants. One of the myths is that the idol of the Goddess was brought by the banished soldiers of the Thekkumur King. And they seemed to have kept it in a jasmine garden. Later on, the temple was built by King Devanarayan of Chembagaserry.
There was no roof over the sanctum sanctorum, the diety is exposed to both sun and rain. It is designed for the Vana Devi. Since the temple was built in a jasmine garden. She was known as the Mullakkal Bhagavathy or Mullakkal Amma. Apart from the main goddess, the other deities in the temple are Hanuman Swamy, Subramanya Swami, Nagaraja, Navagraha, Lord Ayappa and Lord Krishna. There is a huge banyan tree where the lingam of Lord Shiva is kept.
The Mullakkal Chirappu is one of the biggest attractions of Alappuzha. It is a famous festival celebrated in Mullakkal Rajarajeshwari temple. Devotees throng in large numbers to receive the blessings of the deity. The festival is celebrated for 41 days from the first of the Malayalam month Vrischikam that is from (mid-November to end December.) It concludes on the 11th of the Malayalam month Dhanu(end of December). The Chirappu festival is held during the last 11 days. It is celebrated with great grandeur.
The first Sunday of December is celebrated as the women’s festival. On that Sunday all the rituals and functions are carried out exclusively by women. Women from far and near join hands to light a thousand lamps .the whole town is in a festive mode. The streets are lit with coloured lights and illuminated gopurams and the streets are full of stalls where people throng to buy things. The last two days are special and holy. Nine Elephants are decked and taken out for processions accompanied by the Chenda and Panchavadhyam music. A large crowd of devotees come to watch this auspicious ceremony. The final day Annadanam (a sumptuous feast )is served for more than 4000 devotees. The wonderful display of fireworks is a spectacular visual treat for one and all.
Thousands of devotees from all over come to take part in the festival. A large number of tourists come to enjoy the rich heritage and culture. The temple is renowned for its accessibility for devotees belonging to all castes and religions. The festival is enriched with several cultural programmes that showcase Kerala’s great cultural heritage and art forms. Famous artists and musicians are invited to perform at night at the temple premises and entertain the devotees. Both Christmas and the Mullackkal Chirappu fall at the same time and the town gets busy with the festivities. During this festive season, the streets are crowded with people of all ages. Stalls are put up all along the streets. Exhibitions, Agri Horti-fairs and carnivals are held.
I still remember the first time when I went to see Chirappu after my marriage. I was so happy and excited to see the whole town lit and colourful. From small, I had heard about all the excitement of the festival. I had gone to see the stalls on the streets in the evening we were literally being carried along. We could never turn back as the crowds were such. After that, I have gone for Chirappu in the early evenings so that I could take my time and visit almost all the stalls with my kids. It’s the most enjoyable time. Every year the crowds are increasing and the stalls too are.