take their gods wherever they go and settle. Thus you have Guruvayurappan or Ayyappa
temples practically in all major cities in India and even abroad. Until a few year ago
temples in Kerala even offered food 'to the devotees, especially to those belonging to the
upper castes. A major event in the temple is the annual festival, which provides a special
occasion for worship and opportunities for social rejoicing. Thousands turn up to watch
elephants with colorful parasols and flying whisks held aloft them and to hear the playing
of drums, music or participate in general merriment like fireworks, exhibitions,
etc. Vendors and hawkers too gather and do brisk business.
Thus, "a temple in Kerala", as K. P. S. Menon put it "is at
once a house of prayer, a social club and a cultural centre." It plays a role in the
lives of people far more vital than any other institution.
Aryanisation of Kerala
How did Kerala become a land of temples and temple worship
became so popular as to acquire a place of importance in religious and cultural lives of
people? It was mainly due to the Aryanisation of Kerala which reached its climax in the
8th - century A. D. with a major Brahmin influx from the North which 'Ied to the
foundation of many Hindu temples with a view to popularizing Hinduism.