Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna Temple, considered the Dwaraka of the South. This historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Gods, and Vayu, God of the winds. The eastern NADA is the main entrance to the shrine. In the Chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag-post). There is also a 7 metre high Deepasthambam (pillar of lamps), whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity. Within the temple there are also the images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edathedathu Kavil Bhagavathy. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple.
A Temple is not only a place for worship, but also a center for social gathering and an area for cultural programs. People from far and near, gather here in their fortune best to participate in the merriment. The festivals of special significance in Guruvayur temple includes:
This is conducted in the month of Kumbha (Feb-March) and lasts for 10 days. The hoisting of the temple flag atop the flagstaff (Dwajastambham) about 70 feet high heralds the festival. On the 1st day, an elephant race is held. On the next 6 days, there are elephant processions in the morning, afternoon and night. In the morning, there is the Sribhuta Bali (Offering of oblation at various altar). There are various cultural programs like dance, music, religious discusses are held at Melpathur Auditorium (outside the temple) on all these days. On the 8th day, ‘Utsavabali’ (from 10 am to 4 pm) or oblations are offered to the Lord’s lieutenants. A sumptuous feast then awaits the devotees. Pallivetta or the hunting expedition of the Lord takes place on the 9th day. This hunt is symbolic of the destruction of Kama (desire), Krodha (anger) and other such evils that plague us in our life. After that the Lord's Thidambu is takan to the Rudratheertha (temple pond) for Aarattu, amidst the chanting of mantras. Thousands of devotees also take the dip, chanting the Lord’s name to purge them of their sins. Then ucha Pooja (i.e, noon worship –this takes place at night only on this day) is held at the Bhagavati shrine. Finally, the Lord returns to the sanctum sanctorum after 11 circumambulations. The temple flag is then lowered signifying the end of the festival.
The first day of Medam (mid April) is the new year day for Malayalees. People believe that the fortunes for the next year depend on the nature of the objects one sees in the morning of Vishu. For this purpose, Kani (an omen) with articles like yellow flowers, rice, betel nuts, golden coins etc. is displayed in front of the deity. Thousands prefer to see Kani at Guruvayur on Vishu morning. Crowds stay overnight inside the courtyard of temple, which is specially permitted on this day. They close their eyes and set their eyes on the Kani and deity, as the doors are opened at 2.30 am for darshan
In the month of Chingam (July-Aug), under the Rohini Nakshatra, on the 8th day of the waning moon of Sravana is the day of Lord Krishna’s birth i.e. Janmashtami. A very special day in all Sree Krishna temples, Guruvayur Devaswom itself offer a niramala (full of garlands and vilakku), devotees flock in with appam (Cakes of rice paste and jaggery) considered the most favourite food of the Lord on that day.
Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in an year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Suklapaksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur. It falls in the Mandala season. The Navami (9th day) and Dasami (10th day) are also very important. Ekadasi Vilakku starts a month before the Ekadasi day as offerings by different persons, families and organisations. On Navami day, the Vilakku is lit with ghee as an offering by Kolady family. The Dasami Vilakku which used to be an offering of Zamorin Raja, is now conducted by Guruvayurappan Sankeerthana Trust. After the temple is open on this day for Nirmalya darshan ( 3.00AM ), it is closed only at 9.00 am on Dwadasi Day (12th day), thus allowing continues darshan for devotees throughout Dasami and Ekadasi Days. On Dwadasi day there is a custom of offering a token amount called Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam for the welfare of the family.
Other important festivals: Mandalam,Kuchela’s Day , Vaishka, Chembai music festival & Narayaneeyam day.
Ideally, entrance in to the temple for the darshan (new glimpse of the Lord) is made after a holy dip in the "Rudra theertham" (temple pond), and in the same wet clothes while querying up for the darshan, devotees are to maintain strict discipline and be careful about their ornaments and purses. They are not to stand on the belikkallu (Altar).
Wearing shirts, trousers, vests, pyjamas, lungis( printed dhotis), footwear etc. is forbidden. Hence ladies can wear saris and skirts and blouses, Churidars while the men can wear plain white or cream dhoti.
Possessions like Mobilephones, cameras, video cameras, tape-recorders etc. cannot be taken into the temple
One should be careful not to spit or vomit in the temple. Very small children should not be taken inside. Those who are dirtying the temple will have to pay for the 'Punyaha' or purification ceremony.
Begging inside the temple is forbidden.
Newly married couples are not allowed inside the temple, soon after the marriage ceremony.
Having browsed earlier on the glory of the Lord, the shrine at Guruvayur would surely be on your itinerary, the next time you plan your holiday. And when you do come, remember to adhere to these etiquettes.
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It's commonly known as your baby's first feeding or first rice-eating ceremony and called choroonu in Kerala, This offering will be conducted at Chorun Hall - located at first floor of old Ticket Counter building. Take the ticket for chorun from ticket counter before enetring the chorun Hall. This offerings starts daily at 5am till 1pm and also in the evening. The choroonu for kids will not be conducted on Ekadasi and every Vavu Night. The choroonu will not be conducted on Guruvayur Ekadasi Day (Entire day).
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Offering one's weight of such materials as water, coconut, butter,sugar, fruits, copper, silver, gold or any other materials isa popular vow taken by devotees. The devaswam will supply most of these materials. There is no advance booking, but for materials such as flowers, etc., which may not be immediately available, the Devaswom should be informed atleast a day in advance, the devotee should bring them. The weighing facilities are on both sides of the entrance. for the non hindus, the thulabharam facility is available near the Kalyana Mandapam. The expenses involved should be remitted after the offering and receipt obtained.There are three thulabhram counters are available in temple and there is no advance booking for thulabharam offerings. The items will be available with devaswom or contractor or devotees can perform with their own items.
Timings of Thulabhram
The thulabharam offerings will start daily at 5am till the shrine is closed(aproximate-1.30pm) and again in the evening 5pm till the shrine is closed(aproximate-8.30pm).