The customs of temples in Kerala are different in many respects from temples in other south Indian states.
To the layman, it may seem that the poojaris are silent during the pooja. The Deity is kept out of sight from the devotees by closing the sanctum sanctorum during a part of the pooja.The poojari’s hand symbols during the pooja have definite meanings.He recites manthras silently. All devotees are supposed to keep silence during the pooja and still better if they fold their hands in devotion. After the Prasanna pooja, the door of the sanctum sanctorum opens and normally the poojari will be doing arathy at that time. Then the crowded devotees get a glimpse of the decorated deity with all the traditional lights lit. This particular occasion gives great thrill to the devotees and many of them shout the name of the God with great devotion spontaneously.
At temples where the rush is not much, the poojari gives Thirtham, chandanam and prasadam, containing the chaithanya of the Almighty. (water with tulasi, sandal paste and flowers all used during the pooja and into which the poojari has transferred part of the Kundalini Sakthi). Good devotees do not spill them inside the temple and spoil the cleanliness of the temple.
The Kerala temple resembles a Yagasala. The shadadhara Prathishta in the temple represents the Sukshma Sareera and the entire temple represents physical body prostrating with feet at Gopuram and head at sanctum sanctorum.The Balikals inside the Nalambalam represents the attributes of god ( Ganapathy-knowledge Indra-rain etc etc ) and the ones outside nalambalam represents Bhootha Pretha Pishach .
A book published by RK Mission,Chennai gives a number of suggestions to improve temples and the community. Some of these are given below.
1. The poojaris have to maintain the spiritual atmosphere of the temple They should observe all rules regarding personal and ceremonial purity (unlike Pandas at Kashi Gaya etc). They should have genuine concern for the devotees.
2. Devotees should observe rules regarding personal, environmental and ceremonial cleanness.They should not engage in non-religious activities in the presence of the Deity (bargaining cost of rituals etc). They should not observe caste restrictions etc. In front of the deity. He has to concentrate his mind on God. After the visit to the temple he should sit in a corner of the temple and meditate.
3. The greatest malady of our society is that we are the most disorganised society of the world. It is high time we have a central authority.When we accept all religions as equal, why not all sections in our society? It is high time there is an all India temple trust to which all devotees and rich temples contribute.The trust should be autonomous and can release funds to temples requiring funds.
4. Every temple should have an association of young devotees who should take turns to clean the temple and suburbs, and can also educate the devotees regarding the rituals. The members of the association can take short term training and can be an asset during festivals.They can regulate queues, help the aged and infirm, supply drinking water, emergency medical aid etc.
5. Temples can also "Hinduise" Hindus by production of religious literature,organising religious discourses, Bhajans, Harikathas,and staging dramas.
6. A temple cannot be considered a good temple unless it provides adequate facilities for pilgrims and devotees, pays the staff reasonable wages, and beautifies the surroundings with plants and trees. Acquiring too many ornaments for the Deity, making the entire temple golden etc with a large number of beggars in the neighbourhood may not be to God's liking.
.This site is a modest attempt to show what is special about Kerala temples and is borrowed from books written by late P. Madhava Menon, a Karma yogi of Kshethra Samrakshana Samithi, K.P.C. Anujan Bhattathiripad, a devoted Thanthri, a third book written by a devotee of Ramakrishna Mission and the rest from other sources.
The site is not complete in many respects and as and when the author is able to collect more materials, these will be incorporated in the text. In case the readers suggest any additions with details, these too will also be incorporated. Suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.