Judge Ammavan Temple at Cheruvally – True Resort for Innocent Litigants

A temple in the name of a judge, quite strange but true! Most recently Judgiyammavan temple came to spotlight once again, after the offerings and poojas were conducted by members of Devaswom board Travancore to please Judge Ammavan to get a judgment in favour of Travancore Devaswom board for the ongoing historic case of temple entry to Sabarimala Ayyappan temple to all women irrespective of age. The final judgment is to be given by Supreme Court of India on November 7, 2016. The temple comes under the wing of Travancore Devaswom Board. Judge Ammavan literally means Judge Uncle.

Judge Ammaavan Temple

It’s not the first time devotees offer poojas to Judgiyammavan to fulfill their wishes. Famous politicians – K. Karunakaran and Jayalalithaa, and Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth who faced match-fixing charges are the leading names who visited the temple to pray before ‘Judge Uncle’. Devotees visit Judge Ammavan if they are in wait for justice for accused charges and court cases and it’s believed that Judge Uncle won’t return them empty handed. The presiding deity is a former judge who lived in the 18thcentury in Travancore, when the princely state was ruled by Dharmaraja. Litigants, who got tangled in pending disputes, false cases and dragging disputes seek the blessings of Judge Ammavan and try to please him.

Story behind Judge Ammavan Temple

Judge Ammavan Temple is situated inside 1100-year old Cheruvally Sree Bhagavathy temple (Kavu) of Kottayam district. To reach the temple, one needs to travel 8kms in Chirakadavu-Manimala route from Ponkunnam.The famous Chakkulathu Kavu also falls in the same route.
Govinda Pillai was a royal judge of 18th century when erstwhile Travancore Kingdom was ruled by Dharmaraja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, known for his strict adherence to Dharma Sastra. In addition to the position of royal judge of Travancore kingdom, he also served as head of a leading and prosperous family known as “Ramavarma Purath”. Payyampalli in Cheruvally was his ancestral home, and later he moved to Thalavadi near Thiruvalla. During king’s rule, court was called ‘Sadar Kodathi’ (Sadar Court), equivalent to High Court of present day where Govinda Pillai served as royal judge. He was a great Sanskrit scholar too, and was quite famous for his judgments.
Once his nephew Padmanabha Pillai was accused of a case, and Govinda Pillai was to give the final judgment. As per evidences and circumstances, Padmanabha Pillai was given death sentence. After the death sentence was executed, Govinda Pillai broke down when he came to know that he has given a wrong judgment. Padmanabha Pillai was indeed innocent and Govinda Pillai felt guilty for punishing and killing his family member for wrong reasons. So he requested the king to punish him. But Dharmaraja declined it stating that a mistake done unintentionally is forgivable, and that he can’t punish him. But later the king allowed him to write the verdict himself.
He awarded himself capital punishment; asked the king to chop both his heels and hang him as such with bleeding legs. Apart from this unusual judgment he also requested the king to exhibit his dead body for next three days, by hanging in a tree using ropes. His wishes were approved by the king, and thus a glorious era of a great administrator ended. But things didn’t end here. There were signs of super natural powers, unpropitious events and uneven happenings in his ancestral homes for many generations. Then astrological advice was sought and it revealed that souls of both those dead people have not departed yet, and the judge’s soul is still loitering around without peace, for the heinous crime he executed though unknowingly. The astrologer suggested accommodating the soul of judge inside the ancestral temple premises, and poojas are to be conducted.  
Thus soul of Govinda Pillai was accommodated in Dharma temple of his ancestral home, Payyampally just near to Cheruvally Devi. The soul of his nephew was accommodated at Thiruvalla Panayar Kavu. Cheruvally Devi was located in the land belonging to local landlord Chengannur Vanjippuzha Thampuran, and the land was freed of lease decades ago by Marthanda Varma, the king who ruled Travancore before Karthika Thirunal Dharmaraja. A small temple of Govinda Pillai was installed in Cheruvalli Devi temple premises, seeking the blessings of Thampuran.
He was also given the honorable name ‘Judge Ammavan’ meaning Judge Uncle, and in those days in Nair community, the senior most uncle rules an ancestral joint family and he takes all decisions within the family. He is the most powerful person of the family who is given due respect. Later descendants of Govinda Pillai decided to build a temple for him, and the temple seen today was built with Sreekovil in the year 1978.

How offerings are conducted in the temple?

Judge Ammavan resides here as ‘Upa Devatha’ (sub-temple of main deity – Cheruvalli Devi) and a small peedam (stool) is placed instead of idol. The temple stays closed throughout the day and it opens only after the main temple of Cheruvalli Devi closes at night after evening poojas.  
At around 8.30 pm, daily poojas and offerings are conducted which include Ada Nivedyam, Beetel leaf – aracanut offering and tender coconut abhishekam. Among all offerings Ada Nivedyam is most popular and there have been occasions where more than 1000 adas were offered a single day. It’s believed that this ada received after pooja has some divine power, and if you are in trouble for some illegal or delayed cases, suitable solutions will be achieved very soon. The temple is most crowed during Sundays. The temple remains open for only 15 minutes or so.
People come here noting their case numbers. Though people offer poojas giving their name and birth star, yet giving case number is most common. Here tender coconut (karikk) is given for abhishekam and devotees offer them with prayers. Ada and prasadam is given back to devotees which give them a belief that their troubles are to end soon.

Beliefs surrounding Judge Ammavan

People who have delayed cases without judgment for years come to this temple with great belief and prayers that they will get out of those troubles very soon. Litigants come and pray at this shrine and devotees believe that if they are truly innocent, Judge Ammavan will be pleased and helps to get a court order or judgment in favour of them. Many devotees also claim this belief to be true. They offer ada and other offerings to please the royal judge.
Currently Judge Ammavan temple came in news for the offerings conducted by Devaswom board president and other senior members of the board. Till the judgment of the famous Sabarimala temple comes out, Devaswom board members have decided to give offerings to Judge Ammavan continuously till November 6, one day before the final judgment.
Most recent update in July 2017 is – Malayalam Actor Dileep’s brother with a few close relatives visited the temple and gave offerings, following the infamous arrest of the star for conspiring a popular actress’ abduction and sexual assault. As Malayalam’s top film celebrities are involved with this case, Judge Uncle’s temple has yet again come in limelight for new reasons. Watch this place for more updates.    
You can read a few more articles on Kerala temples, with detailed description of legends and celebrations associated with them. Here is the page link. Click on the images in the gallery to read
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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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4 Responses

  1. Praveenlal.M says:

    Explained well.

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