There will not be many people in India who are not heard about Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. Entry to this hill top temple is restricted to women. Only those who are below nine years old and above fifty are allowed here. Hence the number of female pilgrims is lesser to this temple. At the same time millions of women pilgrims are thronging at a temple in the Alappuzha district of Kerala which enjoys the reputation as the Sabarimala of Women. Chakkulathu Kavu, which is located at Thalavadi in Alappuzha is dedicated to Lord Devi. The soil of this place is considered serene as a bit of it will be taken usually to be a part of construction of any temples in Kerala.
The legend behind this temple goes like this. Once up on a time entire this place was a dense forest which will be in darkness even at noon. In such a thick forest once a hunter came for hunting. On his way he saw a golden color snake. It was common for him to come across with snakes and other wild animals and he did not get afraid, instead tried to kill it with his axe. Although he hit at the snake hard, snake did not get injured, instead it went back. He followed the snake and kept on hitting it. Finally the snake went over an ant-hill and took rest there. The hunter who followed the snake came there and hit at it again. This time, a small wound appeared on the head of the snake and blood started oozing out of it. To his surprise, the ant-hill too got broken and water started flowing out of it.
At that time hunter’s son and wife too reached there and got worried about the incidents. They went back to a nearby village and informed the people about the incident. When the villagers came there, a saint too came there and told them that there is the presence of divine power in the form of Adiparashakthi or Goddess Devi inside the ant-hill. He insisted the hunter to break open the ant-hill completely. He refused as he was scared and requested the saint to do so. Saint agreed and did so and found an idol of Devi inside that. He asked the villagers to start worshipping the goddess there.
It is believed that the saint who came there was saint Narada and those who came in disguise of the hunter, his wife and son were Lord Shiva, Parvathy and Ganesha. Thus the soil is believed to have blessed with the touch of holy feet of Lord Shiva, Parvathy, Ganesha and Saint Narada. That is the reason behind taking a bit of this soil to be a part of any constructions.
There was a pond in that area which was always filled with water. The water was as sweet as jaggery or palm-sugar. The words for jiggery and pond in the local language Malayalam are chakkara and kulam respectively. Thus this place came to known as Chakkarakulam or the Jaggery pond and later corrupted to Chakkulam. The place where the water started flowing out of the ant-hill is known as Neeretupuram. Later this pond has been filled and the present day temple has been constructed by Pattamana Illam, a famous Brahmin family of Kerala.
The Devi worshipped here is believed to be Kali who has finished her task of killing Chanda and Munda Asuras. Hence the divine power is considered to be in the ferocious form of Devi. Nearer to the main temple, there is another temple which is dedicated to “Yakshi Amma”. Yakshis are celestial creatures who used to live drinking human blood. This yakshi was also a cruel one. One day she caught hold of a poor girl who was an adamant devotee of this Devi. Hearing her cries Devi came there and seeing her furious face, Yakshi got scared and requested her to allow her a place to sit near her. She also promised that she will stop to be cruel and instead bless the devotees of Devi. This Yakshi is being worshipped in this temple as “Yakshi Amma”.
There is a legend behind Chakkulathu Pongala too. When the idol was found, it was the hunter and his family who took care of it for over a month. During those times, they used to cook food in mud vessels and used to offer the same to Devi. The rest over food will be taken in by the hunter and his family. Once, the hunter became late and his wife got worried. Her worry was that the Devi may feel hungry if not offered the food on time. When she started weeping out of this thought, A vessel full of cooked rice appeared beneath the nearby tree and she heard the voice of Devi telling her that today she had prepared food for her and her family. Even now it is believed that the Devi will participate in Pongala along with devotees and cook food along with them.