Meenamruthu Festival

Ashtamachal Bhagavathi Temple of Payyanur Theru has got many specialties as its own. The offerings and rituals during the 8-day long festival, which usually falls on the month of April is quite different from other temples. Apart from the Theyyam some other rituals are also performed here. “Meenamruthu” is main attraction of the annual festival of this temple. By mid day all the devotees including elders and children rush to the nearby river KavvayiPuzha. There everybody starts catching fish using nets and other accessories. After this combined fishing, they make the fishes into certain groups. The fish usually caught are “nongal”, “maalaan” and “irumeen” varieties (locally called by these names) since the devotees believe that the Goddess likes these varieties of fish very much. The fish, which remains after the grouping, are distributed among the mass surrounded there. These grouped fish bunches are then taken to the temple as a procession and then are offered to the Goddess.

The legend behind this strange ritual is related with the business culture of the past. According to ancient history, Payyanur was an important business hub on the western coast. Kavvayi was a major seaport and ships from various parts of the world including China visited this port frequently for business. The community called “valnchiyarmar” were the business groups who were operating the merchant vessels in those days. Before starting the voyage, they used to perform this ritual called “meenamruthu” to please the Sea God of Durga for the safety of their vessels and the safe and successful voyage. Now the community called Padmasaliya is conducting the festival. The sacred room in which Goddess is residing will be opened only once in a year during the time of festival. The end of the festival in Ashtamachal Temple brings an end to the festival season of Payyanur.

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