THE Devi temple of Chottanikkara near Kochi in Kerala is well known throughout this part of the country for the healing powers, particularly relating to mental illness and such disorders. Although popularly called as Raja Rajeshwari, she is known by various names such as Badrakali, Durga, Saraswathi and Amman.
The devotees are mostly from the lower class who have faith in curing patients supposed to be possessed by some sort of spirits. It is very difficult to say whether the cure is the result of the psychological faith in the Goddess or due to the environment within the temple.
Mostly, the patients are psychological cases and faith probably cures them. The Chief priest of the temple engages the patients in a sort of conversation and then orders the spirit to leave the patient and go elsewhere. This practice of driving an iron nail into a wooden pillar in the temple, indicated that the spirit is permanently made immobile.
According to local practice, Raja Rajeshwari is worshiped as Saraswathi in the morning, as Bhadra Kali in the afternoon and as Durga in the evening. All the rituals relate to drive away the evil spirits and the methods adopted are varied. Neem leaves, lime fruits, chillies, etc., are offered to the deity and are taken home to be fixed or tied in a corner of the house. This is supposed to ward off all evil spirits.
Many stories are told about the origin of the temple. All of them appear to be relating to tribal deities as was being practiced thousands of years ago. However, the devotees have such firm belief in this deity and she is 'Parashakthi' capable of protecting Her devotees from any type of difficulty.
The local tradition mentions that the famous saint Vilvamangalam installed the idol of Bhadrakali in a place Kizhakavu having taken out the original idol from the bed of a tank. There is no authentic record or any inscription available about the various stories related about the place and the deity. Many stories are told by the devotees about the miracles performed by the goddess.
The temple of this goddess is located on the out-skirts of Kochi and local buses are run to the place very frequently. There are many good hotels in Kochi according to the needs of the tourist and pilgrim.