Mannarasala Ayilyam Will Occur On November 6, 2023
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple, situated in Mannarasala near Haripad within the Alappuzha district, holds a distinctive place among Hindu temples, for it is devoted to the revered snake deities or Nagas. The year 2023 marks Mannarasala Ayilyam, which falls on November 6 and is a momentous occasion for this temple, drawing devout pilgrims from across the globe. Dedicated to Sree Nagaraja, this temple is traditionally attributed to Lord Parashurama, and it is noteworthy that the primary priest here is always a woman.
On the sacred day of Mannarasala Ayilyam, it is believed that Sree Nagaraja, who resides in the nilavara of the illam, bestows his divine presence upon the Mannarasala Amma, the chief priestess of the temple.
The most significant event during Mannarasala Ayilyam is the ezhunnallathu ceremony following the ucha pooja. In this ceremony, the idols of Nagaraja, Nagayakshi, and other Naga deities are solemnly paraded to Thekke Thalam in the Illam.
The principal deity of worship in the temple is Nagaraja in Vasuki Sankalpam, and to the north side of the Nagaraja shrine is the shrine of Nagayakshi Amma. The temple opens its doors on Ayilyam nakshatra day at 4:00 AM, commencing with the rituals of nirmalyam and abhishekam.
Subsequently, special pujas are conducted, adorning Nagaraja and Sarpa Yakshi with Thiruvabharanam, which are exquisite gold ornaments. The temple’s pujas are of a Shaiva nature, with the sankalpam for Nagaraja being that of Vasuki.
Legend has it that Lord Parashurama had appointed a priest from the Mannarasala Illam (in Kerala, a Brahmin home is referred to as illam) at the Sree Nagaraja Temple. This family continues to oversee the temple to this day. Once, a major forest fire threatened several snakes near the Mannarasala village, and a childless couple from the family cared for and protected these snakes. Sree Nagaraja, pleased with their devotion, blessed them with twins. One of these twins was Sree Nagaraja himself, a five-hooded serpent. After a few years, He took Samadhi but is believed to still reside in the cellar of Mannarasala Illam.
Before disappearing, Sree Nagaraja imparted instructions on the pujas and rituals to be observed at the temple to His mother and designated her as the temple’s priest. The head priest in the family is known as Valliamma.
Mannarasala Ayilyam is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Thulam (October-November) and is closely associated with the visit of the former Travancore Royal family to the temple. It is believed that worshiping on this day can alleviate Sarpa Dosha and bestow blessings of children upon childless couples.
Ayilyam is one of the nakshatras or stars, and it is thought that the Ayilyam nakshatra day is the most auspicious time to appease nagas or snakes.