The 'Bharani' day in the Malayalam month of Meenam (March – April) is considered very auspicious for the worship of Mother Goddess in Kerala. The day is marked by festivals at various temples across the state. But if you are in God's Own Country, you have to take part in the festivities at Kodungalloor.
The Kodungalloor temple is one of the most ancient temples in Kerala. There are references to this temple in literature dating back to the Sangam era. While some say that the temple was established by Parasurama, there are many believe that the goddess is really Kannaki, who came to Kerala after destroying Madurai. However, it is the rituals that make this festival unique and here's a lowdown.
The festivities kicked off a month ago – from the 'Bharani' day in the Malayalam month of 'Kumbham.' The festivities that began a month ago, reaches a new pitch on the 'Thiruvonam' day, which falls roughly 10 days before the Meena Bharani. In the olden days, when animal sacrifice was part of the festival, cocks would be killed and their blood allowed to flow into the sands. Now, it is merely symbolic – cocks are still brought to the temple and allowed to walk free – after being placed on a red cloth.
Revathi Vilakku and Kaavutheendal
Two days before the Meena Bharani day, is the Revathi Vilakku. The most important and spectacular event occurs a day before Meena Bharani. Hundreds of men and women dress up as oracles – clad in red, these men and women wear belts made up with bells and hold a curved sword in their hands. The representative of the erstwhile ruler arrives at the venue and gives permission for them to enter the premises of the temple. And then, these oracles and the people along with them enter the grounds and hit the rafters of the temple and 'defile' the premises. This is known as the 'Kaavutheendal'.
Some say that the Goddess, after her fight with the demon Daruka was still angry and was placated with slanderous songs. Singing slanderous songs also known as 'Bharanipattu' is something you will never see anywhere else.
After this ritual, no one is allowed to enter the temple. At night, there is a special offering known as the 'Aswathipuja' – where all the ornaments are taken off the deity and sandalwood paste is applied. This, according to belief is when the Goddess transforms to an ordinary woman.
When? This year, the festival falls on April 9
How to reach: Kodungalloor is well connected by roads to other parts of the state. The nearest railway station is Irinjalakuda about 20kms away. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport about 30kms away.