Kottayam:  A unique mission aimed at collecting medicines and herbs from various temples to prepare the special monsoon season Ayurvedic preparation, which will be served to the people for mental and physical health in the month of Karkitakam of the Malayalam calendar, started rolling on Wednesday. “Oushadha Biksha Yatra, the mission that is set to revive an age-old tradition, will tour 114 temples across the sate in a bid to ensure the wellness of the society.

The Yatra, organised by Nelliakkattu Sreedhareeyam Oushadheswari temple of Koothattukulam, was inaugurated by Narayanan Namboothiri of  Nelliakkattu Mana by lighting the traditional lamp on the premises of the  Oushadheswari temple in the presence of a large gathering of  devotees who had turned up for the occasion.

The yatra set off in a specially decorated vehicle fashioned as a chariot, carrying the lighted lamp along with a statuette of Goddess Oushadheswari. The campaign rolled on after receiving ‘Thriphala’ and ghee as ‘biksha’ (alms) from the devotees.

After touring through eight temples located in the eastern parts of Kottayam district, on the first day the yatra entered Pathanamthitta district  after visiting the Ramapuram temple at Ranni.

It also visited Onam Kunnu Sree Krishna temple, Koothattukulam, Ramapuram Sree Rama Swami temple, Koothattukulam, Kadappattoor Mahadeva temple, Kidangoor Subramanya Swami temple and  Thottam Kavu temple.

Arrangements have been made at every halt en route  for the devotees to make their offerings in the form of medicines and herbs.

On the second day,  the  yatra will cover  famous Malayalappuzha Devi Temple before passing through  Thazhoor Bhagavathy temple, Sree Kodumthara Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Bhagavathikunnu Temple, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple,Sakthikulangara Narasimha Swami temple, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Karakkad Sree Dharmasastha Temple, Pandalam Valiya Koyikkal Dharmasastha Temple, Pandalam Mahadeva Temple and Puthenkavu Bhagavathy Vilasam Temple.

After touring up and down the state, the Yatra will be flagged in on July 15. It has been a centuries old tradition in  Kerala to have specially prepared medicines and follow a strict regimen of simple diet and oil bath  in the  month of Karkitakam (July-August ), which will re-energise the body and mind. The devotees will be served the medicine after poojas and rituals at the Oushadheswari temple  from the first day  month of Karkitakam.

The yatra has been organised in two stretches. The first one will tour south Kerala down to Valiyasala in Thiruvananthapuram, covering 28 temples. The second leg of the yatra will start from Thiruvananthapuram and travel up to Neeleswaram in Kasargode district, touching 47 temples. The campaign then will return  to Koothattukulam, visiting 39 temples on the way.

The yatra, on  its return  to the Oushadheswari temple on July 15, will be accorded a rousing reception, followed by dedication of the 14-foot high Oushadheswari sculpture by  Aswathi Tirunal Gowri Lakshmibhai of the Travancore royal family.

Medicines, herbs and other ingredients collected during the campaign from around the state would go into the making of the special ‘Karkitaka” medicine package, which will be distributed to the people.

On the first day of Karkitakam,  special poojas and rituals, including the “Ashtadravya Ganapathi Homam’ , offering 1008 coconuts, will be performed by priests led by Sooryakaladi Sooryan Parameswaran Nampoothiripad. This will be followed by the ‘Gaja Pooja’, lining up more than 20 elephants, and then the distribution of the medicinal preparation.

The preparation will be served to the devotees from 6 to 12 in the forenoon and 5 to 7 in the evening on all days, till the end of Karkitakam. The temple trust has  decided to confer this year’s Oushadheswari Puraskaram on film star Jayaram, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to art and culture.

The temple has also planned the ‘Oushadha Ponkala” on August 6, a ritual seeking divine blessings for the wellness of the society.

By Manoj

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