Makarachowwa is the most important festival of Bhagavathy. Falling on the first Tuesday of the Malayalam month of Makaram, (January) this festival has become the festival of the whole community. There is such an emotional approach to this festival. There will not be a single person in and around Guruvayur who does not visit the temple and pay homage to the Bhagavathy on that day. The festival is inaugurated ten days in advance by hoisting the flag and the collection of para (conventional offering of grains to the full measure by devotees to the Bhagavathy) by the Komaram, starts the next day. Komaram is a person supposed to be possessed by the power of the goddess and is in an ecstatic state and what ever he says and does is believed to be done by the goddess. For this purpose the Komaram visits every home to the accompaniment of drums etc. Besides the temple court yard will be filled with paras on the day of the festival, offered by devotees direct to the temple. The acceptance of these paras’ by the Komaram at the end of the festival procession is a colorful ceremony charged with devotion. Procession with caparisoned elephants at noon and early morning and the final rites in the “Pattu Panthal” are the important features of the festival now laksharchana is also being conducted on this day. But the sense of intense devotion that one feels on darsan on this day accompanied by the “Aravanapayasam” which is the special prasadam is beyond words. It is to be experienced.
Karkidaka Pooja, Vishuvela (New year) and Navarathri, are the other festivals relating to Bhagavathi During the last two years sangeeradhana was conducted during the Navarathri festival and the signs are that this will be a great success in the coming years.
The annual Brahmoltsavam of Lord Thiruvenkitachalapathy is being celebrated in preceded by five days of Tantric rites and the six day on the Malayalam month of madam (April – May) with the flag hoisting done on the punarvasum star. Utsavam is being celebrated every year since the reinstallation in 1977. As per the custom followed in the Kerala temples, and as prescribed in the Thantra Sasthra a Naveekarana kalasam, comprising of Thantric rites, Including reinforcement of the installation of the idol and rejuvenation of the power of the deities was conducted in 2008. One thousand pots (Kalasam) filled with various liquids and charged with chaithanya (divine power) generated by the “manthras” chanted by the priests are poured over the idol to rejuvenate the power of the deity as part of the Naveekarana Kalasam.
During the usual annual festival Abishekam with 108 Kalasams for Bhagavathy and sahasrakalasham for Thiruvenkitachalapathy with Brahmakalasam are conducted as prescribed after the Naveekarana Kalasam.
Thantric rites for the rectification in the erosion of the power of the deity due to omissions and commissions are an important part of the anual festival. The rejuvenated energy overflows and envelops the surroundings lending end energy to all. Public feeding and cultural programmes are also conducted during the ulsavam. The Lord is taken the around the temple on a caparisoned elephant followed with the drums five times each morning and evening during the first three days after the flag hoisting. This is a important feature of the utsavam.
Most important days of the Brahmotsavam are the last three days, Utsavabali (auspicious for darsan) Pallivetta (Symbolic destruction of evil) and Aarattu (holy immersion of the Lord in the tank) marking the culmination of the festival. The Aarattu procession with the Lord on an caparisoned elephants taken around the main roads of the village is a colorful sight and at the same time is a devotionally charged experience. The devotees flock at their gates with various offerings in their ecstasy to receive the Lord which happens only once in a year.
After the procession returns to the temple the Lord is immersed in the temple tank after Tantric rites and the devotees who throng on the main ghats of the temple tank also simultaneously dip themselves in the temple tank. Here also the emphasis on devotion, dipping in the temple tank charged with divine power on the idol’s immersion.
After the Aarattu the Lord is taken again on the mounted elephant for nine pradhakshinams around the temple and at the end of the nine pradhakshinas the flag is deposited and the ulsavam comes to an end. Twenty five Kalababishekams are done again and ulsavam comes to an end with Athazhapooja and Sree bhoodabali.
Festival which is being conducted in the premises of this temple on the 15th December every year, for the last forty years by the Guruvayur Ayyappa Bhajana Sanghom has become an important annual event of this temple. The public feeding in the morning, noon and at night without any restriction of religion, caste or creed or numbers adds weight to the solemn, devotional and pious atmosphere. Lord Ayyappa’s presence is felt everywhere.
Another important festival which has origin in the past is the vellari pooja conducted in the temple during the mandalamasam for 41 days. ie.roughlly from 15th November to 26th December. This is really the worship of divine mother but with certain Tantrik rites, dance, songs etc. But it is done with much reverence and awe. It is done in a separate hall like building in the temple compound, called the “Pattu Panthal”. A small square platform in the middle of the hall is set for this ceremony. To begin with a silk cloth known as “Koora”, supposed to be invested with divine power, is bought from the main shrine of the divine mother with in the temple and spread as a canopy above this platform. It will be decorated. A banana stump is fixed in the middle of platform. Pooja is done and the Poojaari and assistands dance around the platform in an ecstatic mood. Drums sounded in perticular junction accompany the entire junction. Prayer song is also sung towards the end of the pooja. A notable feature of this rite is that the poojari is not a Brahmin and is a under strict vows. This rite is carried out in the evening after the night pooja. On the last day an elaborate pooja, Pradakshinam around the temple with drums and ladies carrying oil lambs in their hands and certain tantric rites. This is called Cheruthalappoly. Words cannot describe these rites conveying its full spirit. It has to be witnessed.
Another important rite relating the divine’s mother is called Guruthi. This is a rite, recalling the ancient custome of sacrifice of animal and human beings in the worship of the divine mother. Now in the modern times a large quantity of red colour water prepared after mixing lime and turmeric powder in the water to give it a strong reddish colour. Water for this purpose is taken from the temple well. This water is splashed from the container vessels to the base of a Palatree by the Komaram. The Palatree (A particular species) is considered to be connected with the Divine mother worship. It is decorated with oil lamps. A platform is build around it. Thantric rites are performed as part of the ceremony. (The Komaram as stated above is a person who processed with the power of the Goddess is in a trance like state during ceremonies. Komaram is supposed to be representing the Bhagavathi). Guruthi is an offering done with much reverence awe. It can be done on any day. Sunday, Tuesday and Fridays are most important days for this function. This offering is carried out on behalf of the devotees for the blessing of the Mother for favours of received. The temple itself used to arrange this rite an important occasions like cheruthalappoli, Makarachovva, Brahmotsavam and Vishnuvela.
This is done once in year in the day of Makarachowa festival. A picture of Divine mother is defected on the floor of the Valiyambalam with turmeric and other colors to be added and certain Thantric rites and Poojas are done. The poojari also sings some songs. The poojari is not a Brahmin and is called “Kuruppu “.This is now done only in the midnight of Makarachowa day.
Recently the temple has also started giving food to the devotees Twice in a week, now on Saturdays & Tuesdays. On some days this is sponsored by the devotees. Giving food to the devotees is considered to be an auspicious program for the growth of the temple. All are welcome for sponsoring this Annadanam. If more devotees come to sponsor the programme, it can be done on other days also.