Lakhs offer Bali to their dead on Karkataka Vavu

via PNS | Kochi published on July 21, 2009

Lakhs of Hindus braved heavy downpour and strong winds to offer Vavu Bali to their dear departed souls on Monday, the new moon day of Karkatakam month of the Malayalam calendar. The Bali Tharpan was performed at numerous places, invariably on the banks of rivers and brooks and sea shores, including those famous for the custom.

Heavy rush of people who had come for offering Bali to their departed souls in Bali Ghats like Papanasam in Varkala, Papanasini in Thirunelli, Wayanad, Thirunavaya in Malappuram district, Bharatakhandam on the banks of River Bharathappuzha, the premises of Lord Shiva temple, Aluva and the beach at Thrikkunnappuzha, Alappuzha.

The Vavu (new moon) of Karkatakam was known as the most appropriate day for remembering the dead and to make offerings to them. The belief was that the Karkataka Vavu was the day when Bali could be offered to 21 generations.

Lakhs of people had reached the holy places for Bali by Monday evening itself and the Bali ritual started as early as 3.00 am Tuesday. In several places, the Bali ritual would continue through Wednesday, the day of total solar eclipse. Papanasini in Thirunelli was one such lace.

Thousands of people had reached the Sankhummukham beach and Thiruvallam temple in Thiruvananthapuram for the Bali rituals. Special police and life guard deployments had been made at Shankhummukham beach as the seas remained rough in the peak of monsoon.

Bali Thjarpan had started off thinly at Papanasam in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram early in the morning but the crowd thickened as the process continued. As many as 150 Parikarmis – priests who helped the people to make the offerings as per the custom – led the Bali Tharpan by thousands of people in Papanasam.

The rituals at the Aluva Manappuram (sand bank) on River Periyar were held under tight security in the context of the recent explosion at the Ernakulam district collectorate building. Hundreds of police personnel were deployed on special duty on the day. The facilities for the Tharpan were meager there as the Lord Shiva temple had come under water last weekend due to the flooding of Periyar river.

As many as 200 Parikarmis led the people through the ritual of Bali Tharpan on 75 Balitharas, specially prepared spots for making the offering. The ritual began right at 3.00 am at the Manappuram under the watchful eyes of the policemen. Special forces had also been deployed in view of the flooding of the river and the continuing heavy rains.

The premises of the famous Nava Mukunda temple at the Thirunavaya sand banks on River Bharathappuzha saw heavy rush of people who had thronged the Bali Ghats for offering rice, gingili, flower and water to their departed souls. George Ivan Louis, a close friend and fan of Michael Jackson, had offered Tharpan to the pop icon here on Monday.

The other place for Bali Tharpan on River Bharathappuzha was Bharathakhandam at Pambadi near Thiruvilwamala. Thousands were present here, mostly at the two spots of Ivarmadam temple and the Bali Ghat looked after by the Korappath Trust. Thousands also reached other spots like Cheruthuruthy on River Bharathappuzha for the ritual.

The biggest crowds of people who had come for Bali Tharpan were perhaps seen on the banks of the Papanasini river in the forests of Thirunelli in Wayanad districts, which had witnessed indescribable tragedies in the heavy rains of last week. Special security arrangements had been made for Bali Tharpan here as the steep sides of the river remained slippery due to incessant rains.

The crowds were thin at Thirunelli in the beginning of the rituals in the early morning die to heavy rains. However, the crowds swelled by late morning with a respite being seen in the showers. As the current was awesome in the river, the flow had been diverted into two so that the Tharpan went off without problems.

Beaches at Thrikkunnappuzha, Chavakkad, Payyambalam and other places also saw rush of people reaching for Bali Tharpan. Apart from these places, villages had their own Bali Ghats as people made the offerings to their departed at any appropriate place with a brook or canal with flowing water. The people of Kerala would now wait for the new moon of month Thulam for performing the ritual again.

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