The word 'Pothottonam' may not strike a chord with many of you. But for the people of Thottippal village in Cherppu, Thrissur district, it takes on a different meaning altogether. The ritual is more than a century old, and the young and old in the village take part in this adrenaline rush filled festivities.
What is 'Pothottonam'
Pottothonam used to be observed on the 'Onam' day in the Malayalam month of Kanni (September- October), which is about 28 days after Thiruvonam. The buffaloes are bathed and fed, then worshipped. The best of the buffaloes from each 'kara,' meaning a locality would then be decked up and taken in a procession to the nearest temple. They would be let to race around the temple. This was a sort of thanksgiving for the bountiful crops.
In the olden days, it was primarily a festival for the working class - the dalits. The nearest landlord would give them oil and buffaloes to race near the temple. The elder dalit leader would take the role of the 'kanakkar' and the 'vallon' would dutiffuly hold an umbrella over his head till all the buffaloes were paraded.
Now, a lot of it has changed, it is a festival for the young and old alike. The caste barriers have long become a history. But the songs are sung, there is a general festive air all around. The buffaloes are paraded and then raced around the temple.
This year the festival was held near Cherppu and Ollur in October.