Preparations for annual festival ‘Ayilya Mahotsavam’ at famous Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple at Haripad in Alappuzha are in the final stages. This year the festival will commence on November 2 (Monday) and continue until Ayilyam day on November 4 (Wednesday).
Mannarasala Sree Nagarja Temple is known for its unique worship of serpent gods and has the distinction of having a woman as chief priestess. ‘Ayilyam Ezhunallathu’ (procession) is one of the much sought after and important ritual of the temple where the chief priestess carries the presiding deity of the temple to Mannarasala Illam.
“Arrangements are on the final stages at the temple premises to receive the devotes who come from faraway places to witness the procession” said M V Subramanian Nampoothiri, Karanavar of Mannarasala Illam.
The festival will get underway with a Maha Deepakazcha on the Punartham day, i.e. Monday (November 2), evening which will be followed by a cultural meeting where the 4th Sree Nagaraja Puraskaram will handed over to the noted Mohiniyattom dancer Kalamandalam Kshemavathy. After the function, there will be a classical dance performance by noted dancer Dr Janaki Rangarajan.
On the next day, the Pooyam day, a mass feast has been organized from 11 am to 2.00 pm at a specially erected pandal at a compound near to the temple. The Uchapooja done by chief priestess, Uma Devi Antharajanam or Mannarasala Amma in front of the Sarpayakshi and Nagaraja temples will take place from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. This is one of the important rituals conducted by Amma during the Ayilyam festival. In the evening, noted percussionist Peruvanam Kuttan Marar and 60 others will perform at the temple that will be followed by a classical concert by Abhishek Reghuram and Kathakali performance by Kalamandalam Gopi Asan.
On the day of Ayilyam, the temple opens for Nirmalyadarasanam at 3.30 am. The special poojas will start from six in the morning that will be administered by the male head of Mannarasala lllam and he will lead the Nagakkalam rituals. Amma will give special darsan to her devotees from 8 am to 12.30 pm that will be followed by a mass feast for the devotees. Various cultural programmes like Ottam thullal, classical music concert will also take place in between.
The revered Ayilyam Ezhunallathu led by the Mannarassala Amma who will carry the Nagaraja thirumukham and Nagaphanam from the temple to the Mannarasaal Illam will take place between 1.30 and 2.30 in the afternoon. Ayilyam festival ends when the chief male priest conducts another unique ritual ‘Thattil Noorumpalum’ at Illam in the evening.
The temple authorities have said that they expect to more than two lakhs of devotees during Ayilyam festival. Arrangements have been made in place for devotees to reach the temple. KSRTC will run numerous services on the day from Haripad depot to the temple and other depots of the district will run special services as usual.
Arrangements have been also made to meet any sudden rush and the authorities have made their plea to devotee to follow the rules imposed by them for the smooth functioning of the festival. The government has already declared a public holiday for schools and government offices of the district on Ayilyam day in view of the festival.