The Poornathrayeesa (family deity of the erstwhile Cochin Royal Family) Temple is one of the eminent temples in Kerala, located at Tripunithura, a distance of around 10 km from Ernakulam.
This temple is dedicated to Lord MahaVishnu, worshipped in the form of Santhanagopala Murthy (savior of Infants). Lord Vishnu is seen here in a sitting posture under the shade of the five hoods of the serpent Ananthan. This is quite a unique pose, unlike the other Vishnu temples where the Lord is usually found in a reclining posture on the divine serpent. The folded body of the serpent itself serves as the seat for the God. The two upper hands of Lord Vishnu hold Sanku (conch) and Sudarshana Chakram and the lower right hand holds the Padmam (Lotus flower).
The name Poornathrayeesa emerges from – “thra” meaning three; ‘poorna’ meaning complete and ‘isa’ meaning Iswara. The Lord manifests Himself as the essence of the Vedas, who can be attained through inner saadhana.
Legend say that Lord Vishnu offered the idol of Sree Poornathrayeesa to Arjuna, when Arjuna sought the help of the Lord to give rebirth to the ten dead children of a Brahmin. The ten children and the sacred idol were then taken by Arjuna in his chariot. He handed over the idol and the children to the delighted Brahmin. He asked Ganesha to find the correct place to install the idol. Ganesha found this holy place and occupied it. Ganesha was then requested to move to the South side and the idol was consecrated there. In memory of this event, a temple was built with a sanctum-sanctorum in the form of a chariot. Devotees can also pray at the idol of Lord Ganapathi on the extreme South side of the sanctum-sanctorum.
It is interesting to note that, besides the idol of Lord Ganesha, no other Upadevatas are worshipped at Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple.The sidewalls of the sanctum sanctorum are heavily decked with large brass sheets and statuettes of Gods and Goddesses, while the roof is plated with copper sheets.
In the year 1920, much of Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple was ruined due to a fire accident, but the idols were taken out safely. Then in the year 1921, it was again reconstructed by the great architect, Sri Eachara Warrier. The temple has a two-storeyed building, in which the first floor of the Gopuram includes a Mandapam, and eight beautifully designed wooden pillars which hold the Mandapam.
The Gopuram on the western side of the temple is very old, which was built in 11th and 13th centuries AD. Kedavilakku (permanently lit lamp) is another attraction of the temple here; and as per the legend, Arjuna, first lit this lamp by using Gingelly oil. So, now visitors or pilgrims use Gingelly oil to light this lamp in the temple.
One of the major festivals here is the Vrischikolsavam which, as its name implies, is celebrated in the month of Vrischigam (November-December). It’s an eight-day annual festival that ends with ‘Kodiyirakkam’ (flag lowering) and ‘Aarattu’ (bathing) rituals. The fourth day of the festival is called “thrikketta purappadu” and it is believed that the Deity Himself is in the procession. Offering ‘kaanikya’ (money offered) to Lord Poornathrayeesa, in the pure gold pot, on thrikketta purappadu day, is the greatest achievement that a devotee can get in this temple. The ‘pancharimelam’ played during the festival here is considered one of the best in Kerala.
Then on the eight day of this festival, the holy flag is brought down by the priest of temple and after the holy bath (Aarattu), a procession is taken to the temple with the accompaniment of ‘pandimelam’. The procession in this festival is accompanied by five caparisoned elephants.
Apart from these, a huge number of programmes like folk arts of Kerala and classical arts of South India are also conducted during this festival, much like most other temples. Lord Poornathrayeesa is considered to be a big fan of elephants and He is known for His love of elephants. Hence, there have been instances where more than 40 elephants participate in this grant Vrishchikotsavam.
There is also another festival, ‘Utharam Vilakku’, celebrated in the month of Kumbham (February-March) every year. On this day, the Goddess Lakshmi of the nearby temple ‘Pishari Kovil’ visits Purnathrayeesa temple and then a joint procession is held.
This unique Temple is certainly a place to go for moments of peace and happiness. When you visit Thripunithara, remember that it was the seat of the Cochin Kingdom, and take time off to visit the Hill Palace, with its own museum.