Althara Bhagavathy Temple in Amaravathy near Fort Kochi belongs to the Konkani-speaking Vaishya-Vaniya community. History says that Konkani-speaking communities migrated to Kochi in different groups during the 16th century, when the Portuguese invaded Goa and brought in ‘mass conversion policy’. Fearing Portuguese policies, many Konkanis left Goa seeking asylum in Kochi. The King of Kochi welcomed them and allotted land for them to settle down in the Fort Kochi and Mattancherry areas.
Althara Bhagavathy Temple is called as the Keezhedam temple of the Cochin Thirumala Devaswom, a socio-religious institution. It is believed that this temple is more than 400 years old. The main deity is Goddess Durga as Mahishasura Mardhini i.e Goddess in the action of killing the demon, Mahishasura. This deity is very rarely seen in temples of Kerala. Legend has it, that the temple was built by a sailor who was caught in a storm during his sail. He promised to build a temple, if he reached the shore safely. It is believed that the Goddess saved him, because of which he made this temple.
The temple, though maintained by Konkani-speaking people, is open to all Hindus. Special poojas (rituals dedicated to the deity) and celebrations happen here during the festival season of Navarathri. The most important event here is the 8-day long annual celebration in the Malayalam month of Kumbam i.e. February-March. Annakkali, referring to the procession or dance of the peacock, is traditionally performed here on the 6th and 7th days of this festival. Huge figures of peacocks, along with those of Goddess Durga (Kali), Bheeman and, Darikan, are carried around the temple. Accompanied by music performed by a traditional band, the figures are carried by men or more recently, on wheels. In the past, animal sacrifices were also part of the celebrations. This practice is, however, banned today.