Cherthala is the town near Alapuzha, Kerala. Sri Kathyayani Devi Temple ascribed to the worship of Sri Shakthi Devi is situated at Cherthala.
Sri Kathyayani Devi is also called as Sri Mangalya Daayini as it is believed that praying to Her shall result in getting good matrimonial alliance.
As per the legend, it is believed that Sri Vilwamangalam Swamiji had consecrated Sri Shakthi Devi at this temple. It is believed that only he had consecrated Sri Padmanabha Swamy at Thiruvananthapuram.
As believed Sri Vilwamangalam Swamiji was returning from Thiruvananthapuram and was proceeding to Guruvayur. Enroute, he found a resting place which had many ponds and shady trees. When he was resting, he saw seven beautiful women playing on seven swings. When he tried to reach for them, six of the maidens disappeared. The remaining one maiden tried to hide in the ponds such as Kali Kulam, Palli Kulam, Chera Kulam, Pullam Kulam, Kelan Kulam and Thripura Kulam. Each time, Swamiji spotted Her. When She tried to hide in the seventh pond which was called Karuppan Kulam, he realized that it was Sri Kathyayani Devi and stopped Her from hiding.
Swamiji caught Her hair while She was drowning into the pond. That pond was full of slush. In Malayalam, slush is called as Cheru. Swamiji could get hold of only Her head. Head is called as Thala. Combining Cheru and Thala, this place is known as Cherthala. In the process of pulling the head, a few hair strands were uprooted.
In the Main Sanctum, Maa Goddess Sri Kathayayani Devi is placed at the Peetam below the normal floor level. Only the Head- portion of the Main Deity is visible. The idol is Swayambu, the self-manifested one. The sanctum is facing east. During Abhishekam, the uprooted portion of the head is visible. After abhishekam, the head is mopped with cloth before flowers are offered. The flowers are also covered in cloth.
At the flag staff (Dwajasthambam), Sree Veli, the custom of lighting lamps is being followed.
Bhagwan Aiyappa at this temple is called as Kavu Udayon, the protector. There are separate shrines for Sri Ganesh, Bhagwan Shiv, Bhagwan Sri Krishna, Sri Kaudayan, Sri Yakshi and Sri Nagaraja.
Special pujas such as Raktha Pushpanjali, Swayamvara Pushpanjali, Muzhu Sandana Kaapu and Archana are offered to Sri Kathyayani Devi. As part of worship, women devotees carry the lighted lamps placed on the flower decked plates during the procession of Sri Devi. This event is called as Thalappoli.
Neeranjanam and Aalithadi are performed for Bhagwan Ayyappa.
During Annual Urchavam, Aaratu festival is done twice a day. Karthika Star day in Vrischikam month of Malayalam Year is celebrated with devotion. During Aaratu festival, the idol of Goddess Kathyayani is dipped in pond and brought back to the temple.
Similar to Thrissur Pooram, Cherthala Pooram festival is also very famous. Iratti and Thadi are the special prasadams made for Neivedyam at this temple. During Pooram Star-day of Meenam month, Devotees used to do the perambulation of the main sanctum by carrying honey pots.
Kalabham is the famous mode of worship at this temple.
Offering of roosters for fulfillment of prayers is a ritual in this temple. There is a separate place to keep the fowls in the temple premises.
The temple is open from 05.00 A.M 11.30 A.M and from 05.00 P.M to 08.00 P.M. Morning Puja is done at 05.30 A.M, Noon Puja is done at 12.00 Noon and Evening Puja is done at 06.30 P.M. The timings may differ during festivals.
Cherthala is enroute Alapuzha and Ernakulam. Buses are available from all the towns of Kerala. Cabs can also be booked.