Ayilyam Nakshatra of Thula masa in the Malayalam Calendar is popularly celebrated as the Mannarasala Ayilyam at the iconic Serpent temple- Mannarasala Nagaraja Temple. Since the Ayilyam Nakshatra is ruled by the Naga devatas and signify spiritual uprising, this star is ideal for performing special rituals for the Holy Nagas. This nakshatra is celebrated with much enthusiasm on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thula/Thulam, that corresponds to Gregorian months-October or November.
Mannarasala Ayilyam 2023
Mon , 6th Nov 2023
Legend of Mannarasala Ayilyam
According to the legend or folklore, there was a time when hundreds of snakes died in a forest fire and the ones that got hurt crawled into pits located in Mannarsala temple premises. Childless wife of priest of the temple anointed the hurt nagas with turmeric powder, milk, honey, and tender coconut water. Pleased with her kind, selfless service, Lord Nagaraja appeared in her dream and promised that He will be born as her son. The lady gave birth to a five-hooded serpent child and a male child. While growing up, the five-hooded elder brother vanished into the underground cellar of the house-‘Illam’ of the priest’s ancestral home for meditation after assigning some spiritual worship rituals to his mother without fail.
Nagaraja made the mother take an oath that only the female members of his mother’s family can perform the poojas. To this day, this is the custom in place at the temple. Since then, elderly lady of the priest’s family lineage has been venerated as Mannarasala Amma, the mother of Lord Nagaraja. Devotees all over the world visit the temple on this day to seek her blessings.
Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple is an iconic popular temple that has over 30,000 paintings of Nagas in various shapes and forms all along the temple premises. The main deity of the temple is ‘Lord Anantha’ representing Lord Vishnu and ‘Vasuki’ representing the spirit of Lord Shiva. Another unique trait of this temple is that the head priest of the temple is a woman referred as Mannarasala Amma.
On this day idols of the sacred grove temple are taken in a grand procession to the Illam or the ancestral house of the priest. The main idol- golden nagaraja idol of the inner sanctum is carried by Mannarasala Amma. Special poojas and prayers are performed in the Illam. The special rituals on this Ayilyam festival begin with grand opening of the temple for “Nirmalyadarshanam”. Special poojas administered by the ‘Karanavar’, the male head of the Mannarasala Illam follows the Nirmalyadarshanam. Following the poojas, chief priestess, Mannarasala Amma gives darshan to the thousands of devotees arrived to celebrate this festival at the temple. Special Neivedhyam called “Nurum Palum“or rice flour & milk are offered. After the Neivedhyam, a mass feast, known as Prasadamoottu is relished by all the devotees.
Then Nagakkalam rituals governed by the Karanavar follows. Post these rituals, the grand procession of carrying the idols, “Ezhunallathu” occurs; during this possession, Mannarasala Amma carries the “Nagaraja Thirumukham” and “Nagaphanam”, the Elayamma carries the idol of Sarpayakshiyamma, and the Karanavar carries the idols of Nagachamundiyamma and Nagayakshiyamma to the Illam. On reaching the Illam, special prayers and pujas called Thattil Noorumpalum ritual are performed that marks the end of the annual Mannarasala Ayilyam Festival.
Mannarasala Ayilyam festival dates between 2019 & 2029
Wednesday, 23rd of October
Monday, 9th of November
Saturday, 30th of October
Wednesday, 16th of November
Monday, 6th of November
Saturday, 26th of October
Wednesday, 12th of November
Monday, 2nd of November
Sunday, 24th of October
Friday, 10th of November
Wednesday, 31st of October