Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kottankulangara Chamaya Vilakku

Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku is  obviously a unique spectacular event which is a festival ritual done every year at Sreedevi Temple,Kottankulangara,Chavara, in Kollam(Quilon) District of Kerala.This ritual is held for
two consecutive days on,Malayalam Calendar days Meenam 10 and 11 every year which usually falls around March 25.
Kottankulangara Temple is situated at Chavara which is 13 km from Kollam.The temple deity is of Bhagavathy
and it is believed that  the idol is 'Swayambhoo' which means it is self manifested.There is no roof made for
the Sanctum Sanctorum.
In the Malayalam Month of Meenam the temple festival starts from the first day itself  and on the 10th and 11th
days at night men participates in a procession dressed up as females holding traditional temple lamp for these
two days is known as Kottankulangara Chamaya Vilakku.
The traditional temple lamp is made  fitted on a long wooden log  and it is having provision for five oil wick lamps.It
will be lighted and the participants will hold it standing in either of the two long rows in which thousands of
men will be participating dressed up as beautiful damsels and such a delightful spectacular event can not be
witnessed anywhere else in the world.
The men who participates in the Chamaya Vilakku festival do so with full devotion and for this they have to
practice certain observances from the previous month 'Kumbham' itself.Men perform this offering to get the
blessing of the Devi to get  fulfill their desires such as to get a job,get promotions,getting visa to go abroad,
to get a bright future,to get relieve of diseases and so on.The devotees say that the Devi fulfills the rightful desires
if approached her with full devotion.So the men who joins the Chamaya Vilakku ritual performs the observances for several days and participate seriously for getting the blessings from the Devi.There is another
belief such that teasing of the participants is not fair and so the spectators also will not dare to tease them
but view this wonderful special event with enthusiasm.There will be tourists in large numbers from other places

of  Kerala ,other parts of India  and from abroad also to watch this colorful event.
The men uses different types of attire to dress up to change themselves as women.Some may use Sarees,Some
wear Churidar,Some prefer Set and Mundu which is traditional dress of Kerala,some dress like the costumes  that was of
Nineteenth century,some wear dance costumes, and the choice is up to them.Professional make up artists
will be available in plenty on those two days at 'Chavara' and the men will do the make up in the temple
premises or in the compound of the natives who  offers any help to the devotees.
The traditional lamps are available for rent from the shops near the temple and so the men who wish to
participate can go there with the necessary female dress only.Other requisites are available locally.
On the two days of Chamaya Vilakku at night there are certain other rituals like offering of vegetables and
fruits etc to the Devi in the temple  known as 'Anpoli Parayideel' and after midnight only the procession starts.There are usually two rows
in which thousands of men will line up holding the lighted lamps and in their make up and different kinds
of colorful attire  they will be looking very beautiful.Some men when dressed up in women costume will
excel marvelously gorgeous  than real females.
There is a story behind this ritual.It is said that some cowherd boys in the past used to offer 'Koottan' which
is coconut dish to a particular stone as part of their play during their work  and offered flowers also to that stone..They were doing so dressed in female costumes just for fun.One day Devi appeared before one of the boys and blessed him
to fulfill his desires.It was disclosed to  his friends and others and eventually  a temple was constructed at the place where the boys
performed their offerings to the stone daily.
Earlier in the Chamaya Vilakku boys up to 15 years were participated but later on men of all ages joined and every year the number is increasing.
Transport Facilities
Kottankulangara Sreedevi Temple is only 13 km from Kollam City.Train and Bus to all parts of Kerala
are available from Kollam.Trivandrum International Airport is only one and a half hours drive from Kollam.

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