Ours is a land rich in culture and heritage. It is a land known for its enthralling mythological tales and spellbinding stories.
Such tales have been passed on from generation to generation and they not only excite and inculcate interest but also impart morals and values to the younger generation.
Apart from the myriad of such popular tales which are mostly from Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are also other stories of faith and beliefs in every nook and corner of the country.
Here’s one such tale that I want to share with you.
Divine Justice by Judge Uncle (Judge Ammavan)
The Legend of Judge Uncle
Back in the 18th century, during the reign of King Shri Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma in Travancore region, there lived a lawyer named Govinda Pillai of Thiruvalla Thalavadi Ramapurathu Madam.
Just like the King known as DharmaRaja aka the Just King, who believed in a fair law and order, Govinda Pillai- the Chief Judge of the Royal court (or Sadar Court) also was known for his impartial judgments and fair verdicts. He was also a Sanskrit scholar who was proficient in ‘Neethisastra’.
One day, a trial took place in Govinda Pillai’s court in which his nephew was accused.
The revered judge weighed all the evidence and heard all the arguments and counter-arguments. He found that his nephew was guilty and sentenced him to death.
However, after his nephew’s execution, fresh evidence was brought in. Govinda Pillai realized that there was an error in his judgment and that his nephew was innocent.
He was burdened by guilt and requested the King to punish him.
The King couldn’t bring himself to punish the judge for a mistake he unknowingly made. He entrusted the task to the judge himself.
For Govinda Pillai, his reputation was everything.
He ordered his own execution in which his feet were to be chopped off and his body was to be hung from a tree for three days for the people to see, making him subject to a slow and painful death.
Several disasters and catastrophe struck the kingdom for years. Upon the Ashtamangalya Prashnam (Kerala astrology), it was concluded that the Judge’s soul was to be entombed at his ancestral house in Payyambally’s temple near the Cheruvally Goddess’s deity and his nephew’s at Panayarkavu Temple in Thiruvalla.
The Cheruvally Devi Temple was on the lease-free land granted to Chenganoor Vanjipuzha Thampuraan by Dharma Raja’s predecessor King Marthanda Varma.
With the blessings of the Thampuran, Govinda Pillai’s soul was installed at Cheruvally who is apparently, also his favorite Goddess.
Upon the wish of his descendants, his deity which we see today was officially built as a Sanctum Santorum in 1978.
Offerings to Judge Uncle at Cheruvally Temple
Govinda Pillai’s, now fondly known as Judge Ammavan aka Judge Uncle–
Judge Ammavan resides here as a sub-temple or Upa Devatha.
His temple remains closed in the morning.
Judge Ammavan’s worship commences by about 8.30 pm. This is after all the poojas and offerings are made to the Cheruvally Devi and Kodum Kali – the fierce form of Maa Durga.
Judge Ammavan’s temple is open for only about 30 to 45 minutes.
The three main offerings to Judge Ammavan are Karikku Abhishekam (Sacred Bath of the deity with Tender Coconut Water), Adakka-Vetilla Samarpanam (Arecanut and Betal leaf offering) and Ada Nivedyam (Offering of Ada- a Kerala delicacy), Ada Nivedyam being his favorite.
Litigants and others with delayed cases fly from across the country, making
note of their case numbers to do offerings to the deity.
There have been days were up to a 1000 ‘ada’s were offered to Judge Ammavan in a day.
The temple is mostly crowded on Sundays as well.
It is believed that if those seeking justice from the court come to the temple and prays to Judge Ammavan, a favorable judgment will soon be passed.
Of course, that is only if the truth is on their side.
From famous politicians like K.Karunakaran and Jayalalitha to Indian cricketer Sreesanth to the Actor Dileep, many celebrities also have visited the temple when they were alleged in various conspiracies.
The Travancore Devasam Board also had made offerings at the deity for a verdict in favor of the Sabarimala Temple women’s entry case.
How to reach Cheruvally Devi Temple
The picturesque Cheruvally Devi Temple is situated in the Kottayam District of Kerala and is believed to be at least 1100 years old.
Legend says that Cheruvally Devi appeared here upon the request of Adi Shankaracharya.
However, she was left here ignored for centuries until one day a woman from the lower caste found a stone bleeding upon sharpening her sickle.
A temple was then constructed here installing the stone idol which is about four feet high.
The Cheruvally Devi Temple is about 8kms from the town of Ponkunnam in the Chirakkandam-Manimala route.
One can travel by car or use the local bus transportation. You can see the magnificent Manimal river on one side on your way to the temple.
Manimala River, also known as Valla Puzha is an important waterway of Central Travancore. It flows through three districts of Kerala – namely, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Alappuzha.
Many famous temples and churches reside in its banks. The river also offers a picturesque view striking against humongous rocks.
It may seem unusual and even bizarre to have such beliefs in this 21st century. But one cannot ignore the steady rise of devotees and believers leading to the Temple to offer and please their beloved Judge Ammavan.
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That’s all for now, folks!
Have you been to Cheruvally Temple?