From festivals like Konganpada, which commemorates a war to Chamayavilakku, which is a festival where men dress up as women to propitiate the goddess – life in Kerala, is a celebration. Yes, you heard that right, men dress up as women for Chamayavilakku Festival. And allow us to tell you the story.
The legend has it that a group of cowherds found a coconut and tried to break it with a stone they found in the woods. The stone bled, the scared cowherds ran to the village elders, who consulted the astrologers who divined the presence of the Goddess. Those days, girls used to offer pujas in the temples. Since this was a forest, the cowherds dressed up as girls and offered the puja. To this day, for the festival, men dress up as women and carry out a procession during the night to please the goddess.
Come evenings and people start gathering along the roads leading to the Kottamkulangara temple. Men deck up in sarees and colourful salwar suits. And that is not all, they wear bangles, flowers on their hair and wait patiently for the goddess to come out of the temple and bless them.
Over the last couple of years, a lot of members of the LGBT community arrive in droves for this festival. For them, it is a celebration of their pride. But, you will also find men dressed as women – looking every bit awkward and out of their elements here too. The underlying emotion here is reverence to the mother goddess.
When is it? This year, the festival is on March 23 and March 24
How to reach: Kottamkulangara is near Chavara in Kollam District. Situated close to the National Highway, buses will be the easiest way to reach the temple. If you are traveling by train, you can get off at Kollam and take a bus to Kottankulangara.