Thursday 17 January 2013

Only men can crawl to see this Rama

This is a natural tunnel but legend ascribes its construction to the Architect of Gods, Vishwakarma. The tunnel leads to the cave where there is a beautiful idol of  Rama.
However, only men are allowed to crawl through the tunnel and that too on only one day in an year. The rest of the year, the tunnel is closed and one can have a darshan of Swayambhu Rama by entering the cave directly.
Women can come to the cave and have darshan of Rama directly. They are prohibited from crawling into the tunnel.
This is the Punjarani cave temple which is located 2kilometres away from the famous temple of Thiruvillwamala and 30 kms from Palakad in Kerala.
The cave was earlier in Palakad district but it now comes under Thrissur district. The cave temple is located between Vilwamala and Bhoothamala. It is 20 kms from Thrissur.     
The Punarjani Guhe or Guha in Malayalam is a natural tunnel of about 150 metres in length. According to the locals and priest of the temple, if you can crawl into and out of the tunnel, you will automatically be cleansed of your sins. The tunnel passes through a rocky cliff and though the crawling is not difficult you have to pass through a host of  rituals in order to enter it.
But remember, you can crawl into the tunnel and exit only one day of the year-Guruvayur Ekadashi. On this day, you will find hundreds of devotes eagerly waiting for their turn to crawl into the tunnel. 
In Malayalam, this seve of crawling through the tunnel is called Noozal.
Well, let me describe some of the rituals before entering the tunnel. I hope I have got the names and the rituals correctly.  The ritual of entering the tunnel is called Punarjani.
A devotee desiring to  undertake Punarjani has to come to Ganapathi theertha, which is nearly a mile east of the cave temple. The devotee then has to bathe in  Papanasini Theertha, which was believed to have been constructed by Parashurama.
The devotee then enters the tunnel and he needs about 45 minutes to come out from other end. Then devotee then again bathe at the  Papanasini Theertha and thereafter again take a dip in Pathala Theertha located at the beginning point of the Punarjani.
The next step is to take water from Kombu Theertha into the hands and pray. This theertha was formed when Indra’s elephant Iravatha struck his tusk on the rock. The last stop is at Ambu Theertha from which water has to be taken out using a stick or any other object. The entire ritual is practiced only one day in a year - Guruvayur Ekadashi, in the Malayalam month of Vrichikam (December – January).
The long narrow cave is believed to have been built by Viswakarma, who is also credited with having created Kerala.  Parashurama is supposed to have observed Punarjani 101 times to atone for his sins of killing all the kshatriya clans of India except the Ikshvakus.
Locals also believe that after the Kurukshetra battle, the Pandavas, on the advice of  Vedavyasa, performed “Karya”  for those killed in the destructive battle.

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