Kodungallur Bharani Festival
The Kodungallur Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagavathy temple (Sree Kurumbha Bhagavathy Temple) in Kodungallur, is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani asterism in the month of Kumbham to 7 days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Meenam. It normally falls between the months of March and April.
Kodungallur Bharani Festival – Kozhikkallu moodal
The festival usually starts with the ritual called ‘Kozhikkallu moodal’ which involves the sacrifice of cocks and shedding of their blood, which forms an important feature of this temple. Only the members of the Kodungallur Bhagavathy temple allowed to participate in this ritual. It is to appease the goddess Kali and her demons who take delight in blood offerings. Devotees bring in stuffs like red silk, rice, salt chilies, betel leaf, turmeric.
Kodungallur Bharani festival celebrated in Kodungalloor, the ancient capital of Kerala, the festival is held at Kodungalloor Bhagavathi Temple. The celebration of this festival is said to mark the birth of Bhagdrakali. Mythology says that he was born from the third eye of Samhara Rudra and went to kill demon Darika.
Nilapadu Thara – Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple
More than 75 banyan trees are there in the premises of Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple. Each tree has a floor, and known as ‘Nilapadu Thara’. Oracles (Komaram or Velichappadu) came to the temple for Kavu Theendal, are gathering on the ‘Nilapadu Thara’. Each floor has owned by each group and known as ‘Avakasa Thara. After gathering on the ‘Nilapadu Thara’, oracles sing the songs to praise the Bhadra Kali, Goddess of Kodugallur temple (Kodungallur Amma).
Kodungallur Bharani Festival – Kavu Theendal
‘Kavu Theendal’, an important event of the festival, overseen by the King of Kodungallur where Vellichapads (oracles) make a run around the temple waving their sabers in the air while the members of their retinue offer reverence over the inner quadrangle. They make cry of abuse at the goddess in bawdy language. Their abuse is said to be accepted by the goddess followed by the purification ceremony the next day. Chandanapodi Charthal is yet another festival of smearing the image with sandal paste.
Kodungallur Bharani Festival – Oracles (Vlichappadu or Komaram)
Oracles, both men and women, from different parts of the State run around the temple and smite their crown with the sword, proclaiming their communion with the Mother Goddess. The devotees strike the temple rafters with sticks and hurl offerings over the roof and on to the inner quadrangle.
Kodungallur Bharani Festival – Time
The Kodungalloor Bharani is a spectacle in itself. The festival usually falls in the Malayalam month of Meenam (roughly March/April) every year. The temple remains closed for a week following the festival.
The temple still follows a ritual from the days of the yore wherein purification ceremonies, a custom which is believed to restore the sanctity of the temple, are performed after the ‘kaavu theendal.’
Photos & Video: Anoop Santhakumar