Thiruvarppu Krishnan Temple
This is one of the famous temples of Krishna in Kerala which is at least 1500 years old. This temple is located in Thiruvarppu, which is 6-8 km from the town of Kottayam on the shores of Meenachil River. (Varppu is the cast used by smiths to make bell metal vessels)
There are several stories about its origin. All of them talk of recovering the idol of Lord Krishna with 4 hands which was kept in an Uruli (Flat vessel made of bell metal). Here are some of the stories:
This temple is connected with Mahabharata. When the Pandavas lived in the forest, Lord Krishna gave them his statue with four hands so that they can daily worship it. It seems when Pandavas finished their sojourn in the forest and wanted to go back, the people of that area, requested for that idol. This was worshipped by the people of Cherthalai. But after some time due to reasons beyond their control, they were not able to continue their worship. So they simply dropped the idol in the sea.
After a long time a great sage (some say it was Vilwamangalam Samiyar and other say it was Padmapadacharya, the disciple of Adhi Shankara) was travelling by a boat in these parts. Suddenly his boat became immobile. When some one got in to the sea to find out the reason, the sea dried at that spot and they were able to recover this idol. The divine person took the idol with him. Though he wanted to go west, the boat travelled to the east via Kunnam and Pallikkara and reached the present spot of the temple.
The divine person got down there along with the idol and found that a temple of Dharma Sastha was without any idol and hence he consecrated the idol in that temple.
Another version is that the above divine person got down from the boat along with the idol but due to inclement weather he was unable to proceed any further. Hence he kept the idol in an Uruli, which he found near the tank and went away. Later when he came back, he found that the idol had got fixed to the Uruli. That Uruli belonged to an individual called Kunnan Kari Menon. As soon as he heard about this incident, he gave the land for temple construction and completed the temple with the help of a saint called Madappurathu Samiyar. Even today special Pushpanjali ( offering of flowers) is done on behalf of the Asram of Madappurathu Samiyar in this temple.
Another one is that the Pandavas deposited the idol they were worshipping along with their Akshaya Pathra in the sea, before leaving for their Agnatha Vasa. Some fishermen fishing in the Vembanad back waters at a place near Vechur (called Mangalathu Vila) recovered only the idol but not the vessel. They built a temple in a place called Chara Mangalam and consecrated the idol there. Soon various calamities occurred in their village and hence,they returned the idol to the backwaters. This time the idol fell directly into the original vessel itself. It was then that the divine person referred to earlier recovered the idol as also the vessel.His boat travelled via Kunnam and Palikkara and was not able to travel further due to dense aquatic plants. The people of the area swam in to the water and made way for the boat to reach the shores. The idol in the vessel was kept in the shore temporarily in a structure called Valiya Madam. On that day they were able to offer to the God only tender mango pickles and tender coconut water. Later the idol was shifted to the present temple. During the Arattu, the idol is taken to Valiya Madam and Tender mango and tender coconut water is offered to it even today.
The Lord faces west along with his four hands. The temple opens very early around 2 AM in the morning. Around 3 AM a special offering called Usha Payasam is offered to this lord. This is prepared using rice, jaggery, ghee, kadali banana fruit and dried coconut. When the rice is cooked well, the melted Jaggery is poured in to it till it stops by itself. This method of preparation is very peculiar to this temple.
Another peculiarity of this temple is that, the priest is given an axe as well as the key to open the door in the early morning. People believe that this God cannot tolerate hunger and so if there is any delay in opening the door with the key, the priest is permitted to break open the door with an axe. People believe that Lord Krishna’s idol in the temple is of the very exhausted Krishna after he killed Kamsa. So after the Abhishekam is over, the Lord’s head is first dried,, the Naivedyam offered to him and then only his body is dried.
There are five times pooja but the Deeparadhana is only after the Athazha pooja (last pooja carried out at night 7 PM ).Since people believe that the statue came from Cherthalai, the priest after the Athazha pooja asks “Is there any body from Cherthalai here who is hungry?”. It is believed that no body from Cherthalai in the temple should go hungry.
Another peculiarity of this temple is that even during eclipse, the temple is not closed. People believe that this God would become hungry. It seems once, the temple was closed during eclipse. When they reopened the door they found that the waist belt of the Lord has slipped down. Vilwamangalam Samiyar who came at that time told that, it was because God became very hungry. From then on, they stopped closing the temple during eclipse.
This temple has a very peculiar drum made of bell metal. It is said that Lord Krishna announced the killing of Kamsa, playing on this drum. There is a 12 tier brass lamp in this temple gifted by a Christian devotee.This temple also has a sub temple for Bhoothanatha.All offerings to the main deity are also offered to him Outside the temple there are temples for Subramanya, Ganapathy, Yakshi , Shiva and Bhagawathy.
The temple festival is during the first ten days of the month of Medam.(april-may).On the tenth day there is a race of Elephants like the one in Guruvayur. During the festival time girl children who are less than ten years of age dress themselves as Lord Krishna and offer lamps to the Lord during morning and evening. On the tenth day of the month when the sun sets, his rays enter inside the sanctum sanctorum and this is referred to as Pathaam Udayam,
Krishna’s birthday during Ashtami Rohini is celebrated in this temple. Sundays and Thursdays are special in this temple and attract lot of devotes.
Another peculiar celebration of this temple is Pullattu Pooja,. The story is that there was a rich Nair gentleman without children in the Pullattu house. He wanted to donate all his wealth to the temple and requested them to observe his death anniversary. When astrologers consulted the God, his consent was given. On the Thai poosam day, Pullattu Nair came inside the temple, kept all his wealth including keys to treasures and documents for all his properties before the Lord. Then he prostrated before the Lord and it is said that he died then and there. Even today three special poojas one day before his death and fifteen special poojas on the day of his death are performed in his name and referred to as Pllattu Pooja.
Milk Payasam, Ghee Payasam, Appam etc are offered to the Lord usully. There is a special offering called Chathurchathadam also.