Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Karkidakam - A spiritual month

During olden times the last month of Malayalam calendar 'Karkidakam' was looked upon by majority of the  people with fear and they were desperate about the thought of  what would be conceived by the month for them to suffer.When agriculture was the main source of economy for most of the people, this month was the days of famine and poverty.The harvest month started from the next new Calendar month 'Chingam' on wards which brought prosperity but 'Karkidakam' was horrible for them by all means with out any work and earnings.Epidemics such as fever,Cholera etc were also common at that  period and death rate of the older people were also high during this month of monsoon.People used to stay in their homes with a clean spiritual heart praying to the Almighty.Traditionally this month is called as 'Ramayana Masam' which means the month of 'Ramayana'.
The holy book 'Ramayana' is recited in most of the Hindu homes by an older member of the family while others listens to it.This system  is still  followed all over Kerala in most of the Hindu homes especially in this month.
Kerala is well known for 'Ayurvedic'  treatments and the month Karkidakam which falls from mid July to mid August is excellent for 'Ayurveda treatments' which is known as 'Karkidaka Chikitsa'.It is said that during this monsoon period the human body will reciprocate well for the traditional Ayurvedic medicines and treatments. Many people undergoes such treatments in this month which detoxifies and rejuvenate physically and mentally.There are several well famous Ayurveda Centres in Kerala where traditional treatments such as 'Panchakarma treatment,Pizhichil,Njavarakizhi,Dhara,Elakizhi,Abhyagam' etc are provided  which cleanse the system,relieves pain and regains health.

'Marunnu Kanji'  which is rice porridge mixed with several Ayurvedic medicines is consumed during this month as one time meal which is also entrusted as a method of detoxifying the human system

and regains health.Karkidakam is the best month to consume this medicinal porridge.The good effects of the medicines will continue to protect the body for a long period is the belief.'Karkidaka Kanji Kits' are available all over the state during this month.

The new moon day of this month is known as 'Karkidaka Vavu' and this day is auspicious for the Hindus and they believes that the departed souls of their relatives will visit them on this day.It is the day to pay homage   to them which is known as 'Bali' and there will be heavy crowd at all famous holy  'Bali Centres' in the state.
Traditionally this month is avoided  for  any grand ceremonies like marriage etc 
now a days also.Karkidakam paves way to  'Chingam month' and the celebration season begins there on happily with the biggest and longest festival of Kerala- 'Onam'.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ochira Kali - A Spectacular and Exhilarating Event

One of the most thrilling,exhilarating and 

spectacular event of Kerala is the 'Ochira Kali' held annually  for two days;on the first and second of the Malayalam month Mithunam which falls during mid June.This year this enthralling traditional event will be held on 15th and 16th June 2016.
The venue of this event which attracts large number of spectators every year is at 'Ochira Town' which is 32 km from Kollam City.
Ochira is well known for the 'Ochira Parabrahma Temple' where Lord Shiva, the Supreme God is worshiped as 'Parabrahma Murthy' and 'Omkara Murthy' where actually no shrine or idols are existing which is the unique significance.Devotees in large numbers arrive there and worship the Lord in the vast temple compound.During the annual 'Panthrandu Vilakku Festival' large number of devotees come there and stays for twelve days meditating and praying Lord Shiva.

Ochira Kali takes place at 'Pada Nilam' (Battle field) close to the temple and it is being held there annually for the last 300 years.It is held to commemorate the fierce battle which  took place between Venad Kingdom when 'Veera Marthanda Varma' was the Maharajah and  the mighty Kayamkulam Kingdom which was  well famous for their double edged sword and leather shield.Some argue that it commemorates the battle took place between Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha Kingdoms.
Large number of well trained participants take part in this mock battle after dividing themselves into two groups.The spectators can watch and enjoy the Kerala Style Martial Arts 'Kalari Payattu' in its true and active form in Ochira Kali.Even though it is a mock fight the participants dressed up as traditional warriors display their vigor and skill with full enthusiasm which delights the spectators that arrives from far and near every year for this colorful event.
Only male participants are allowed to take part and they are usually trained for more than 40 days and every participants take 'Vrat' for 41 days prior to this event.Warriors in the age group of 5 to 85 usually actively take part in Ochira Kali.
There will be a colorful procession from the temple compound before starting this event.Initially the experts of 'Kalari Payattu'  and 'Kalari Gurukkal' display all the 18 'adavu' and then starts the mock battle.Accompanying drums provides backup for the participants and as per the traditional etiquette both the sides are allowed to advance and retreat displaying their skills at its best. During very earlier time  real weapons like original swords and shields were used for Ochira Kali  which caused injuries to many participants and it was banned during the Maharajah rule itself.Now a days mock swords,shields and long sticks are only used. 
After finishing the event prizes are distributed to the best participants.
A one month long exhibition and trade fair of agricultural products and household articles is added attraction of Ochira Kali.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Maha Shivaratri and 108 Mahadeva Temples of Kerala

Today is 'Maha Shivaratri' which is one of the most important Holy and Sacred festival of the Hindus and it is celebrated all over India and abroad.Much more than a festival it is an occasion to worship Lord Shiva with devout humble heart to express the vast love and respect of the devotees towards Him.On this day from the early morning to the next day morning the sanctum  of Lord Shiva will not be closed in all temples.Large number of devotees will come and stay in the temple premises and attend all the special 'Poojas' and rituals.Pouring large quantities of pure ghee on the 'Shivling Idol' which will continue for several hours is held at many temples on this day.
Large sector of the pious devotees observe 'Vrat' (Penance) on this day by fasting and many of them will not consume food or drinks for a period of 24 hours.Some may consume coconut water and some others may eat light one time  meal available from the temples.
Those who observe 'Vrat' are not supposed to sleep even for a moment for full day and night.They should chant Lord Shiva's 'mantras' and 'slokas' all the time to keep their mind and soul pure.Chanting 'Om Namashivaya' or 'Om Namo Namashivaya Om Namo Narayanaya' and or any other suitable mantras will be good.Reciting 'Puranic' books and other religious books can also be done.Those who do not take 'Vrat' can also chant 'Om Namashivaya' mantra as much times as possible to propitiate Lord Maha Deva on this day.

There are large number of Lord Shiva Temples in Kerala but out of that 108 temples are considered most sacred and important.Chanting the names of those temples also is beneficial and chanting the names of these temples on a 'Pradosham' day will cease the daily problems.( as said in this prayer.)
The devotional prayer which contains the 108 main Lord Shiva temples of Kerala is as follows.
" Sreemat Dakshina Kailasam Sree Perooru Raveeswaram
Sucheendram Chovvaram Mathur Thripangottatha Mundayur
Sree Mandhamkunnu Chovvallur Panancherry Korattiyum
Porandekattu Chengannur Kolluru Thirumangalam
Thrikkariyooru Kunnapram Sree Velloorashtamangalam
Iranikkulavum Kainoor Gokarnam Ernakulam
Parivalooradattum Nalparappil Chathamangalam
Paraparambu Thrikkuru Panayuru Vyttilla
Vaikom Rameswaram mattu Ettumanoor Edakkulam
Chemmanthatt-aluva pinne Thirumittakottu Cherthala
Kallattupuzha Thrikkunnu Cheruvathuru Ponganam
Thrikkapaleswaram Moonum-avittathur Perummala
Kollathum Kattakambala Pazhayannuru Perakam
Athambyelar-ambalikkadu Cheranelluru Maniyoor
Thali nalu Kodungaloor Vanchiyoor Vanchuleswaram
Panjarkulam Chittukulam Alathuradha Kottiyoor
Thrippalooru Perunthatta Thrithala Thiruvallayum
Vazhappally Puthuppally Mangalam Thirunakkara
Kodumboora-shatamikkovil Pattanikkattu nashtayil
Killikkurissiyum Puthur Kumbha sambhava mandiram
Someswarancha Vengallur Kottarakkara Kandiyur
Palayooru Mahadeva Nellooradha Nedumpura
Kannuur Thrichaliyoor Sringapuram Kottooru Mammiyoor
Parambumthali Thirunava-kkarikkattu Thenmala
Kottappuram Muthuvara Valappayi Chendamangalam
Thrikkandiyoor Peruvanam Thiruvalloor Chirakkalum

Ipparamjava Noottettum Bhakthiyothu Padikkuvor
Deham Nasikkilethidum Mahadevante Sannidhau
Pradoshathil Japichakil akhila dosha duritham kedum
Yathra Yathra Shiva Kshetram Yathra Yathra Namamyaham."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cherukolpuzha Hindu Convention

Cherukolpuzha Religious Convention of the Hindus, also famous as 'Cherukolpuzha Hindu Parishad' is an annual mega event organized at Cherukole, in Ayroor of Pathanamthitta District.This convention is usually held on the golden sand banks of the Holy River Pamba in the month of February.
This is a one week convention in which several scholars address the large gathering of people daily.It is the biggest Hindu spiritual  gathering of its kind in Kerala.Several religious Gurus,teachers,leaders as well as scholars and philosophers conducts discourses concerning various subjects.The aim of the convention is to provide adequate knowledge about the Hindu religion and Hindu tradition and guide the people to lead a true Hindu way of life which is possible even in this modern era.Those who attend the convention gets deep knowledge in various aspects of Hindu religion and 'Sanathana Dharma' which helps them to lead a better way of life and to be a citizen  useful to the society.A Hindu organisation 'Hindu Maha Mandalam' conducts this convention every year.
This convention was initiated in the year 1912 by ' Theerthapada Paramahamsa Swamikal' who was the chief disciple of 'Parama Bhattaraka Chattambi Swami Thiruvadikal'.Chattambi Swamiji was popularly known as 'Shri Vidyadhiraja Chattambi Swamikal' and was a noble Saint,reformer,teacher,Poet,Philosopher,researcher,Scholar'- in general, an unparalleled Hindu Saint of Kerala.Theerthapada Paramahamsa Swamikal who started this convention was also a 'Saint' who also attained 'Self realization' by the guidance of 'Chattambi Swamiji'.
The place where this convention is held is named as 'Sri Vidyadhiraja Nagar' after the great Guruji Shri Vidyadhiraja Chattambi Swamikal.
Many prominent Gurus,religious teachers and religious scholars like 'Swami Agamanananda Swamikal,Swami Nithya Chaithanya Yathi,Chinmayananda Swamiji,Matha Amrithanandamayi,Swami Mangalanda,Sri Sri Ravi Shankar' and so on  attended this convention and  addressed the gatherings in the past.
Many Scholars,social workers and philosophers like 'Mannathu Padmanabhan,M.P.Manmadhan,Kelappaji,T.K.Madhavan,C.V.Kunju Raman' and so on  participated in the discourses of  this convention.
People attend the various public meetings,discourses,seminars etc  and also in the various rituals and Poojas like 'Sarvaiswyarya Pooja'  which are conducted for the prosperity and well being of the participants and their family.
2016 marked the 101st Cherukolpuzha Hindu Convention and was held from February 7 to 14th at Cherukole.The function was inaugurated  by Swami Poornamrithananda Puri of Matha Amrthanandamayi Math on Sunday 7th February 2016.By inaugurating the function Swamiji urged the listeners  to seek the blessings of the Almighty to ward off the problems in today'

s hectic way of life and to get peace of mind.By choosing a spiritual way of life one can minimize the daily tensions to an extent- Swamiji explained.Swamiji told the new generation should hold on the traditional Indian Philosophy that see motherhood in Earth,Rivers,Women and in general- to love the nature.
This year's convention concluded on 14th February 2016 and as usual many dignitaries conducted discourses and large gathering of Men,Women and Children attended the convention.
Chengannur and Thiruvalla are the nearest Railway Stations and both are about 20 km away.Trivandrum Int'l Airport is 121 km away.District Headquarters Pathanamthitta is 16 km from which  buses to all main  places in Kerala are available.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Manjanikkara Perunnal

Manjanikkara  Syrian Orthodox Church  is a famous pilgrimage center situated atop a hillock at Manjanikkara in Omallur of Pathanamthitta District.
This Church  is very popular in Kerala and visited by large number of devotees and tourists every year.It is in this Church that the mortal remains of Patriarch Saint Mar Ignatius Elias III are kept.He was the Holy Patriarch and the Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church from 1917 to 1932.The Holy Patriarch visited this place in 1931 and stayed here until his last breath in 1932.He died on February 13, 1932 and his Holy tomb is in this Church.
The annual Festival of this Church is held in February every year which is known as 'Orma Perunnal' (which is the Annual Feast')  and usually starts on 4th February on wards .During the festival days large number of devotees and tourists arrive here and several of them come by walking in groups and it is famous as 'Manjanikkara Pilgrimage'.
During these days large gatherings attend the festivity programs,devotional meetings and special prayers.The most significant day of the 'Feast' will be 13th February.Devotees also visits the Saint's tomb for His blessings and spiritual healing.
Manjanikkara is 6 km from Pathanamthitta, the Distirct Headquarters.
The nearest Railway Stations are  Chengannur, which is 24 km, Thiruvalla 30 km and nearest Airport is Trivandrum Int'l Airport which is 106 km away.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Arthunkal Church Perunnal (Feast)

Arthunkal St.Andrews Basilica is a very famous Christian Pilgrimage center in Kerala.This shrine is also familiar as 'Arthunkal Palli'.(Palli is Malayalam word for Church).It is also called as St.Sebastian's Church since St.Sebastian is its patron.
Arthunkal Church is situated at 'Arthunkal' in Alleppey District which is a coastal place and the west side of the Church is Arabian Sea.The Church is very ancient and was established by the Portuguese 500 years back.The Church is well known for the  religious harmony of Kerala which is visited by devotees belonging to all faiths.Hindu pilgrims to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple after witnessing 'Makara Vilakku Festival' while coming back this way, alights here to pray in this Church as a traditional custom.
It is believed that St.Sebastian heals several ailments including crippled,  physically disabled people,mental disorders and so on.Hence during the feast days many such devotees also  visit this Church in anticipation to get his blessings. 
The feast of St.Sebastian which takes place every year in this Church is a very popular spiritual event in Kerala when devotees from all over the state throng in large numbers to this place.The 'Perunnal' of this Church is a two week celebration and this year in 2016 the feast days are from January 10 to 27.
Usually every year the most important feast day is  on January 20. January 27, the last day of this celebration is also very important and known as 'Ettam Perunnal'.
The 'Perunnal' of Arthunkal Church which falls in the Malayalam month 'Makaram' every year is also famous as 'Arthunkal Makaram  Perunnal'.

A procession carrying the statue of St.Sebastian to the beach and back in a chariot is an important event of the feast usually held on 27th January  in which large crowd of devotees participate.On this occasion many ardent devotees crawl on their knees,some roll on the ground all the way from the beach to the Church  as their 'nercha' (offering) to express their love,respect and devotion to the Saint.Offering small replica of bow and arrow is a traditional practice of this church.

Cherthala is the nearest Railway Station which is 8 km and Alapuzha Railway Station is 21 km.Cochin International Airport is only 68 km away. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is an auspicious occasion which is celebrated all over India and neighboring countries like 'Nepal,Myanmar,Sri Lanka,Camodia,Thailand' etc.It is called as Makara Sankramam or Makara Sankranti in Kerala which is a grand festival day in all temples of Kerala especially at Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Swamy Temple.Makara Sankramam followed by 'Makara Vilakku' is the most important and significant celebration of this temple and on that day evening 'Makara Jyothi' is witnessed at 'Ponnambalamedu' and 'Makara Nakshatram' a celestial star appears on the eastern horizon.
Special pooja rituals will be held at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple at the time of 'Makara Sankramam'.This year the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ayyappa Swamy will be opened and Pooja rituals will be held  around 1.30 a.m. on 15th January 2016.
Makara Sankramam is the auspicious time of transition of Sun into the zodiac sign of 'Makara' which is Capricorn.Usually this happens on January 14th or 15th every year.From this time on wards Sun starts to move towards North for a period of six months which is known as 'Utharayan' in India.During this period the days will be longer and warmer and people consider this period to perform   auspicious things as well as sacred rituals.The other six months period when Sun moves southwards is known as 'Dakshinayan'.
It is believed  that one year  of humans is one day for 'Devas' (the celestial beings).Utharayan period which is called as 'Utharayana Kaalam' in Malayalam is considered as the day time of the Devas when they will be awake.The other six months which is  'Dakshinayana Kaalam' is the night time of the Devas.
More over Makar Sankranti brings the spring season and people celebrates the occasion joyfully.People greet the season by getting rid of the old and useless articles,clean the house and surroundings,prepare special dishes and sweets,wear colorful new dresses,visit friends, relatives and exchange gifts,sing and dance in groups and so on.
In Kerala may be because the climate is moderate throughout the year and Makara Sankranti does not bring any notable changes in climate  it is not a big celebration.
In Tamil Nadu it is a four day celebration and is called as 'Pongal'.In Karnataka also this is a four day celebration and known as 'Makara Sankramana'.In Gujarat it is known as 'Uttarayan' and in States like Punjab,Haryana and Himachal Pradesh it is known as 'Maghi'.It is 'Bhogali Bihu' in Assam and 'Khichdi' in Uttar Pradesh.
Colorful paper kites flying by young and old alike can be witnessed in many states as a joyful pastime during this celebration period.Beautiful kites having various shapes and color will be available in plenty at all shops during this period.