Located in the province of Kerala, India, Guruvayur temple has stood for many centuries. It is considered to be an incredibly holy site in the Hindu religion, seen as one of their most important places of worship within the world. The temple sees many religious visitors throughout the year seeking blessings, enlightenment or both. The region of Kerala and its surrounds are peppered with temples, statues of deities and holy sites. Many locals and foreigners alike praise the area for its beauty.
What Is The Guruvayur Temple?
The temple itself is dedicated to the deity Guruvayyurappan. This specific deity is a variation of the Hindu god Vishnu, with four arms instead of two. There are many legends and myths surrounding this holy site, the most famous of which is that the idol worshipped within is more than 5000 years old! It is important to keep in mind that only devotees of the Hindu religion are permitted entry into the temple grounds and inner complex.
It should also be noted that there is a very strict temple dress code for those seeking to enter it. Men are required to wear a mundu around their waist, which is a loose robe like garment very similar to a sarong. Women are also required to wear a sari, which is a traditional garment with a drape over the shoulder. In more recent times however the dress code for women has become less stringent and they are permitted to wear other items of clothing such as the salwaar kameez, a comfortable garment that is easy to move around in.
The Guruvayurappan temple timings are specific and precise. The routines that the chief priest and other priests follow is always at the same time throughout the day. The temple itself is managed by the Guruvayur devaswom.
Devaswom are basically socio-religious trusts and organizations in India that are made up of members of both the communities and government officials. Officials from both of these bodies work together in order to ensure the smooth operation of the Hindu temples throughout the country whilst still following traditional customs.
The History Of The Guruvayurappan Temple
The Guruvayurappan temple in Kerala has stood for many centuries, attracting religious visitors from all around the world. The region in which the temple is found has had a fairly tumultuous history, and the central shrine is said to have been constructed somewhere around the early 1600s.
There was, however, a prolonged war between the people living in the region at that time. As the years passed, though,more locals became devout followers of Guruvayur thus putting a stop to most of the battles as there were no longer differing beliefs between the people settled in the region.
Sadly, in the early years of the colonial era and throughout the 18th century many Dutch explorers looted and pillaged the temple for all it’s gold and wealth. Many other temples were destroyed throughout this terrible time but the Guruvayur temple luckily withstood the onslaught.
In 1970, a massive fire broke out in the temple, threatening to destroy this ancient site. Luckily many of the locals banded together to combat the blaze, bringing buckets of water to snuff the fire. They succeeded with the help of authorities and firefighters. Since then, the temple has been at peace and there have been no major occurences.
Udupi Sri Krishna Temple
There is also a smaller temple dedicated to Krishna in Kerala, however, the most famous of the temples dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna is the Udupi Sri Krishna Matha. This temple complex is located in the province of Karnataka which is found just north of Kerala.
The area surrounding this temple has been said to be that of an ashram or living monastery. It is said by the locals that the area is incredibly holy and that one can find peace there. Many of the temples that surround the Udupi temple itself are ancient, some even older than a millenium.
The deity that this temple is devoted to is known as Krishna. He is the Hindu god of love, compassion and tenderness, often depicted with a flute in hand and at peace with his surroundings. The Udupi temple is open from 5:30AM all the way through to the late noon.
The Statue Of Lord Guruvayurappan Maraprabhu
Located in a large guest house close to the Guruvayur temple in Kerala is a statue of Guruvayur Maraprabhu. The addition of Maraprabhu to the name translates literally to the lord of the tree.
There is a well known Indian myth that surrounds the founding of this particular variation of the deity’s name. It is said that there was once a devotee of Guruvayur who accidentally recited a prayer wrong saying Maraprabhu instead of following the original script. Another man laughed at the devotee’s mistake, which was seen as an insult.
The story continues stating that Guruvayur was touched by the devotee’s humility after reciting the prayer incorrectly. The god decided to come to his aid, appearing as a voice that stated “I am also Maraprabhu” thus giving rise to the name Guruvayur Maraprabhu.
Many Hindus believe that the statue radiates powerful energy due to the nature of it’s creation and see it as a holy icon.
Final Thoughts On The Guruvayur Temple
This temple is a truly spectacular place, attracting attention from many people across the world. It is a place of holy learning and introspection to Hindus. Even though the temple complex is reserved for followers of the religion the outside view is magnificent, with intertwining arches and beautiful architecture. Standing for hundreds of years this temple has proved time and again that it will stand the test of time.
For those interested in learning about the area or visiting to take in the sites there are many temples spread throughout the province of Kerala that can be entered without being a devotee of Hinduism. Alternately, you can always take a look at visiting Goa if you’re looking for something a little more high-energy.
Always remember, it’s highly important to respect the customs and beliefs of the local people and in return you shall be greeted with warmth, kindness and understanding.