Category: Temple Festivals

Temple Festivals


Pallivetta (an item in a Temple Festival)

‘Pallivetta’ is a temple ritual.  It is performed on the 9th day of the festival.  The “Thidambu” (idol), will be taken on an elephant in a procession from ‘Aalthara Temple’ to ‘Nagavara’, which is 2.5 kilometeres far from Aalthara Temple and on the eastern side of the main temple.  In the evening, after the temple rituals, the elephant carrying the thidambu and the “Pallikkuruppu”, along with devotees from surrounding four ‘Kara’ (regions) move silently to the sacred palliyaal of Devi and the pallivetta rites will be followed.  After that the devotees of ‘Nagavara’ accord a Royal welcome to Devi with the accompaniment of a spectacular fire work display and the thidambu (idol) is taken back to the main temple in a procession.  At the temple, the thidambu is laid on a sacred silk bed in the Sree Kovil, then the Devi is allowed to ‘Palliyurakkam’ and the temple premises goes to a deep silence.

Temple Festivals


Aarattu (thiruvulsavam on 10th day)

Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Devi ‘Aarattezhunnellippu’ (procession) starts on the 10th day around 3 p.m. from Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Temple.  After performing customary poojas, the elephant carrying the thidambu (idol) is taken as a procession with the accompaniment of ‘Pambamelam’, ‘Kettukazcha’ (gigantic effigy of bulls), ‘Velakali’ and ‘Ammankudam’.  Then it circumambulates and venerates Sri Mala Deva.  After that, the procession slowly moves forward and reaches Sri Narayanmangalam Dharma Shasta Temple past Palachuvadu, Elanthoor Neduveli Junction, Pariyaram, Elanthoor market and Sri Maha Ganapati Temple.  The Aarattu of Devi (immersing idol in holy water) is done in a holy pond of Sri Narayanamangalam Dharma Sastha Temple. 

The devotees throng all on roads, by lanes, and house fronts and witness this ritual religious fervor.  The procession is taken back amides the devotional chanting ’Amme Narayana’, ‘Amme Narayana’ and ‘Devi Narayana’ and reaches Elanthoor Maha Ganapati Temple. From there, the procession carrying the thidambu proceeds to Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Devi Temple covering a radius of places like Khadi and Village Industries Board, Narayanapuram, Aalunkal padi and Sri Maha Vishnu Temple.  And the Aarattu will be drawn across after performing ‘Seva’ with auspicious poojas,’ Valiya kanikka’ and flag lowering.  The flag lowering ceremony will be held as soon as the Aarattu procession reaches the main temple in the evening marking the culmination of the ten day festival.  The Aarattu procession carrying the thidambu at floodlit temple precincts during night is stunning and spectacular.

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Padeni (Kolam Thullal)​

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Temple Festivals

Ponkala Festival

Ponkala (on the 6th day of celebration)

This is a religious festival.  The name ‘Ponkala’ means “to boil over” and it is a ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins.  Commonly, women devotees participated in this ritual.  Rice, coconut and jaggery are brought by women devotees along with round earthen pots for cooking.  The chief priest of the temple lights the main harth from the divine fire in the sanctum sanctorum.  This fire is exchanged from one oven to another.  On the ‘Ponkala day’ a large congregation of women devotees squat at the temple premises, on roads , footpath, by lanes and shop fronts in a radius of many kilometers to cook the mixture of rice, jaggary and coconut in earthen pots that is offered to Goddess seeking divine blessings. 

Devi is considered to be the mother Goddess of ancient people of Kerala and Tamilnadu.  In India this belief is evolved from the deity “kottave” worshiped on the peak of “Aayiramala”.  During ancient times, the whole people from the nearby villages use to assemble on this hill and stayed there during the entire celebrations lasting for several days.  During this time woman took path in social cooking which was believed to the holly and propitious by the Goddess.  Such social cooking strengthened the bonds between these villages.  This custom is still continue in the form of Ponkala.  Ponkala festival is mainly celebrated at Aattukal Temple, Puthiyakavu, Mulloothara Devi Temple, Kovilvila Bhagavathy Temple, Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Karikayam Temple, Kanjirottu Valiyaveedu Temple, Panekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and Thazhoor Bhagavathy Temple.  The annual ponkala of Aattukal Bhagavathy Temple has been entered in the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest congregation of women in the world.  The festival witness 2.5 million devotees on a single day on March perform the ponkala ritual.  Ponkala Festival at Elanthoor Bhagavathykkunnu Devi Temple is also very famous.  Elanthoor Devi Temple ponkala is witnessed by a set of humanity that has gathered along the

Temple Festivals

Padeni (Kolam Thullal)​

Padeni (Kolam Thullal)

(Presented by –Sree Devi Padayani Sangam-Elanthoor East).

‘Padeni’ the favourite offering of Sri Bhagavathikkunnil Amma. Is performed 3 days before thiruvulsavam.

The ritual marks beginning of Padeni.  The temple priest hands over an oil lamp, i.e., to lit with the fire from the sacred lamp to the Padeni masters.  The Padeni Sangam with devotees welcomes Sri Bhagavathikkunnilamma beating ‘pacha Thappu’ (a traditional musical drum), clamor and voice of melodious chorus of women (vaikurava).  The Padeni master light an indigenous torch light made of dry coconut (choottu katta) with the sacred lamp brought from the sanctum sanctorum.  The Padeni Aashan goes round the temple thrice before reverently placing it on a stone facing sanctum.

The ‘Koottakolam’ performance comprises of’ Sivakolam’, ‘Ganapathikolam’,’ Maruthakolam’, ‘Yakshikolam’, ‘Sundharayakshi’,’ Antharayakshi’, ‘Arackiyakshi’,’Mayayakshi’, ‘Pakshikolam’, ‘Maadankolam’, ‘Kaalankolam’,’ Bhairavi’,’ Bhairavium Kanjiramalayum’, ‘Ninabhairavi’,’ Kanjiramala’, ‘Mangalakolam’, ‘Pooppada’, and ‘Kuthirathullal’.  Kanjiramala and Bhairavikolam is the major attraction of the Padeni festival.  The Valiya Padeni is a major festival that witnesses perforces all the padenikolam including majestic Bhairavikolam.  Usually the Valiya padeni concludes with the artists and devotees singing “Vallappattu” seeking divine blessings.

Kadammanitta village is popularly known as padeni village in Pathanamthitta District.  Kadammanitta is a village with vibrant rustic traditions on the hilly tracts of the district.  It is situated about five kilometers away from the district headquarters.  Kadammanitta is known its ancient Bhagavathy Temple and the ritualistic art form of padeni.  The padeni festival celeberated at the Bhagavathikkunnu Devi temple there attracts a large number of temple art lovers from the different parts of the state and even foreigners every year.  The Kadammanitta Bhadrakali temple is a major center of this temple art form and padeni festival is held every year.  The ritualistic dance of padeni, literal meaning military formation is performed as offering to Goddess Bhadrakali at various Bhadrakali temples in the Central Travancore region.  Padeni is being celeberated every year almost thirty temples of Alleppy, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam Districts.

Temple Festivals


This ten day festival is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March) in Makayiram (the fifth lunar asterism) with flag hoisting. From the very first day of the festival, the devotees can offer Para and Anpoli (punch of a freshly collected paddy grain). The temple authorities will make all the arrangements to the devotees for this.

Elanthoor Padayani, the favourite offering of Devi, is performed till the eighth day of the festival and a ‘Valiya Padayani’ on the eighth.

Temple Festivals

Mandala Pooja

It is celebrated on the 41 day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam after Deeparadhana and Athazhapooja in the evening. Devi of Bhagavathikkunnu is taken in palanquin (pallakku) as a procession to Malanada. Special poojas are performed there and the idol is brought back to the Temple.

Devotees observe traditional austerities (vratham) which normally start from the 1st day of Vrischikam (17th November). Devotees initiate the vratham wearing a Tulsi or Rudraksha mala. This is also known as Sabarimala season, when pilgrims all over the world visit the holly shrine of Sabarimala. November 17 or Vrischikam 1 is the beginning of Mandalamasa or when the sun enters 1st Degree of Scorpio, Vrischika. It is also known as Vrischikamasa aarambha and is considered holly for 41 days. Mandala is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. The basic form of most mandala is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. It represents the universe. The term mandala appears in the “Rig-Veda”. This symbol is used as a spiritual guidance to, and as an aid to meditation and transe induction.

The mandalapooja, which is considered to be the completion of the 41 day mandala vratham, will be observed on December 27. The Ayyappa idol will be adorned with Thanka Anki (sacred golden attire) preceding the uchapooja at Sabarimala. Marking the culmination of this 41 day Sabarimala Pilgrimage.

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Navarathri Celebration

It is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Kanni (the period when the sun stands on the sign of Virgo). The nine day festival includes “Devi Bhagavatha Sapthaham”, special pooja performances, Deeparadhana in the evening, Bhajans, Discourses, and varied cultural programmes. Navarathri is a festival dedicated to the worship of Devi Durgga. The word Nava Rathri means nine nights in Sanskrit. During the nine days of Nava Rathri nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is celeberated as Vijaya Deshami or Dessehra-the nine forms of Shakthi are Durgga, Kali, Amba, Annapoorna Devi, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalitha, Bhavani and Mookambika. Bhadrakali or ‘Good Kali’ is a Hindu Goddess popular in Southern India, in Devi Mahatmyam Bhadrakali is depicted as one of the fierce forms of the great Goddess (Devi). In Kerala Temples Bhadrakali is worshiped as Sri Bhadrakali and ‘Karimkali Moorthy Devi’. She is mostly represented three eyes, and four, twelve or eighteen hands. She carries a number of weapons (kapalam, sword and panapathram). She is also seen with flames flowing from her head small tusk protruding from her mouth. Kodungalloor Bhadra Kali temple is one of the most famous temple in Kerala dedicated Bhadrakali. It is believed that the versatile Sanskrit poet Kalidasa became what he was thanks to the Devini will of Bhadrakali. It is also believed that Vikramaditya and his brother Bhatti were ordent devotes of Bhadrakali whose blessing resulted in all the successes showered upon them. Many martial arts like Kalaripayat (a traditional martial arts forms and kalari are associated with Bhadra Kali). The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered as the sacred opportunities for the worship of the divine mother Durga. In Hindu mythology Navarathri represents the celebration of the Goddess Amba (Power). In South India Navarathri, the nine- night festival honors Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswathi. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu it is known as Navarathri and Bommla Koluvu in Andhra Pradesh. The date of Navarathri is from 25th September to 3rd October. Navarathri observed is Dasshera in Karnataka, where it is celebrated for ten days. The main event during Navarathri in South India is the display of dolls and idols-KOLU and the placing of kalash which represents Goddess. During Navarathri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of Universal Mother, commonly referred to as Durga. She is also referred to as Devi or Shakthi (Power). The nine manifestations of Goddess Durga are Rudra, Chanda, Prachandha, Chandogra, Chandanayika, Chandapati, Chandaroopa, Durga and Saraswathi. It is with the help of this energy that God proceeds with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. Our worship of Shakthi reconfirms the energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. The last three days of Navarathri, i.e., Durgashtami, Maha Navami and Vijaya Deshami are celebrated as Saraswathi Pooja and they are considered more sacred than other days for Devi worship. In Kerala, Saraswathi Puja and Ayudha Puja are performed. On the Durgashtami day a ceremony called “Poojavaipu” is performed in the evening. On the Vijaya Deshami day after Pooja in the morning, the books and implements are taken out from the pooja room and this ceremony is called “Poojayeduppu”. Vijaya Deshami day marks the beginning of learning and work. At this auspicious moment, the tots are for the first time, given instructions to write the first few alphabets on rice or sand. Thus they are ushered into the world of knowledge. This is called ‘ezhuthiniruthu’ or ‘vidyarambham’. Saraswathy Temple, also known as Dakshina Mookambika, in the Panachikkadu village of Kottayam district, Kerala, is significantly noted. Even though, many Saraswathy Temple perform pooja only during the Navarathri period. This Temple offers pooja throughout giving “darshan” to the devotees. The Mookambika Devi temple at Kolloor, Uduppi district in State of Karnataka, India, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Mookambika Devi. Here, Parvathy is worshiped as Parvati Devi. The establishment of the temple is attributed to Parameswara (Lord Siva) who has brown a chakra with his toe. On Durgashtamiday special poojas like suvani or suhasini pooja are performed at the Lord Aiyyappa Temple at Sabarimala. Devotees from far and near visit the Aiyyappa Temple on the auspicious day.