Varanad Devi Temple
This sacred temple is located about 3 kms from Cherthala KSRTC Bus stand, towards the northeast. It is an ancient, holy abode of the Devi (Devi Sthana) where the goddess reigns in all splendour, decked with jewels and finery, and safeguards her dear devotees.Having destroyed Darika, the goddess is the Shatrusamhara Murthi (One who destroys the enemies), who is in a terrible form with the Vetala as her vahana(vehicle).
Friday is the most auspicious day at this temple, especially because it is the most favourite day for the presiding deity, Varanad Devi or varanattamma. Kumbha Bharani is the most important festival celebrated here at this famous temple and when this festival falls on a Friday, it is considered most holy. It is believed that devi darsan (seeing the goddess) on this special occasion is sure to grant all desires of the devotee.
The lord of the temple is Shiva, and the other sub deities installed here are Lord Ganesha, Kodumkalee, Kshetrapalan, Rakteswari, Nagarajavu, NagaYakshi, Rakshas, and Arukola.
The Kodiyettu festival here is held in a traditional manner. This festival is a 14day festival. During the festival, there are numerous cultural programme held, the highlight being the presentation of various form of Temple Arts. From the day of Kodiyettu till Arattu, for 13 days, the goddess goesout in procession every day to meet her devotees. Thousands of Niraparas are offered to the goddess. Kumbha Bharani festival, Meena Bharani festival, Makara Bharani festival are all important celebrations here. It is on the Makara Bharani day that women offer Pongala to the Devi every year. Other celebrations here include Navarathri Sangeetotsavam, Mandala Masacharanam, Kalamezhuthum Pattu, Valiyakalam Pooja, Saptaha - Navaha Yajnam, AaanduPirappu, and Pratishta Dinam (day of installation).
Kalamezhuthum Pattu: Is a function usually held at the temple in the Malayalam month of Vrischika, from the 1st day of the month for the following 41 days. In the Pattambalam, the Puthussery Kurup draw the four handed figure of the goddess and worship her with songs and poojas for forty days. On the last day They sing the Bhadrakali sthuthi and erase the Kalam drawn and these procedures are known by the name Kalamezhuthum Pattu.
On the 41st day, the Kalam is drawn in the Mukha Mandapa. On that day, many devotees come to the temple to behold the sixteen handed goddess with weapons in all her hands. That is the only day in fact when the devotees can see the figure of the goddess drawn in its entity (the Purna rupa of the goddess). The essential chaitanya of the goddess is drawn into the holy sword which is kept on the Kalam drawn in the Mukha Mandapa. After the afternoon pooja, it is the time for the Kalam pooja. After this, the sword is taken over to the northern side where the Valiyakuruthi is to take place.
The Valiyakuruthi is expected to be conducted midnight in the night on the same day. This function is held only once in a year. It is believed that when the head priest executes the Valiyakuruti, the bhutaganas (the deities attending the goddess) run all around the temple yard. After the Kuruti, the sword is taken back to the sanctum sanctorum and the drawn Kalam is erased (Kalam Maykkal). On the following seven days the temple is opened only after dawn and closed before dusk.
Bharani Dershanam :The Bharani in Kumbha(February-March) month is the most important festival day of the. temple. On this day their is special offerings from morning to noon and worship during the time is considered to be auspicious. This Known as Bharani Dershanam .After Bharani dershanam this shrine is closed for th day .
Garudan Thookkam at Varanad Temple:Garudan Thookkam is conducted as an offering to Varanattamma on the day of Kumbha Bharani and it is the most sacred and most favourite offering of the goddess. Besides Garudan Thookkam. OttaThookkam is another important offering. It is compulsory that the first Otta Thookkam should be from the Vayalar area.
After killing Darika, the goddess was in a highly incensed state and reached the zenith of the Raudra Bhava when Lord Shiva tried his best to pacify her. But her anger could be alleviated only with the appearance of Lord Vishnu when she became calm and pleasant. Maha Vishnu sent his mascot Garuda to the goddess to alleviate her anger, pacify her and make her happy for the well being of the world. The joyous Garuda approached Devi with all due orchestral music and related festivities. All along the way he threw fruits and other food stuff to the birds and animals, made them happy and finally on reaching the holy presence of Devi with awe and respect, offered his blood to the goddess. Accepting the offering, Devi is said to have become happy and granted all her devotees their hearts’ desires. It is to commemorate this incident that the goddess’s most favourite offering Garudan Thookkam is held regularly. The Garuda moves round the temple, bows before the goddess and goes back. Sometimes two or more Garudan Thookkam are offered every year.