Lakhs offer Vavu Bali to ancestral souls

via Pioneer News Service | Kochi published on August 1, 2008

Lakhs of Hindus from all over the State performed the Vavu Bali on Friday, the New Moon day of month Karkataka of the Malayalam calendar to propitiate the souls of their dear departed at various temples, river confluences and beaches. With the belief prevailing that the day was particularly holy as the New Moon also was a day of the solar eclipse, the number of people who thronged the Balitharas all over the State had surpassed the usual.

All the Vavubali centres witnessed unprecedented security measures in the context of the frequent blasts threats. Reports said that at Payyambalam beach in Kannur alone, more than 300 policemen had been deployed. At several centres, the believers had to enter the Balitharas through metal detector posts. Dog and bomb squads were also deployed in several places.

All the main Bali centres were filled by Thursday evening itself. In some select centres, Bali started to be performed at late Thursday night but in most centres the rite began to be performed after 2.00 am Friday. Heavy rush was witnessed at all centres as believers were hasty to conclude the rite before noon as they wanted to be back home before the start of the solar eclipse which was witnessed in Kerala after 4.45. Also, astrologers were of the opinion that Bali should not be performed during the eclipse though the Vavu day with solar eclipse was auspicious for offering Bali.

The main centres of Karakataka Vavubali were the Parasurama temple at Thiruvallam, Thiruvananthapuram, Papanasam at Varkala, Thrikkunnappuzha in Kathikappally taluk, Alappuzha, the bank of River Periyar, Aluva, the River Bharatappuzha at Thirunavaya, Malappuram, the Srrekanteswara temple, Kozhikode, Payyambalam beach in Kannur and Papnasini in Thirunelli, Wayanad. All these Bali centres and several others saw hordes of people of all ages rushing to perform the rite of offering rice and water to the souls of the departed dear.

One of the most famous Bali centres, Papanasam at Varkala, where Bali Tharpan (dedication of Bali) started late Thursday night, witnessed unprecedented rush of believers. The Janardana temple at Varkala also saw large gathering.

The main centre at Thiruvananthapuram was the Parasurama temple at Thiruvallam, the only temple in Kerala dedicated to the deity and the only temple where Bali could be offered inside the temple compound. More than 20,000 believers had booked space for the rite in advance at the temple where 3,000 persons could observe the rite simultaneously. The Sankhumukhan beach in the capital also saw thousands offering Bali. With the sea remaining rough special staff had been posted at the place to ensure that people did not go far into the sea to take a dip.

At Aluva alone 30 Balithara’s had been prepared for performing the rite, for which leadership was given by Siva temple Tantri Chennas Manakkappadi Parameswaran Namboothiri and Melashanti Mullappally Subramanyan Namboothiri. The Advata Ashram also had prepared Balitharas on the banks of River Periyar in Aluva.

Priests at the Bali centre on Thrikkunnappuzha beach, Alapuzha said the crowd was almost twice dense compared to last year. Though they had expressed fear that Bali would have be performed on the road lying further inland with the sea remaining violent, the waves turned calm by morning and therefore people could complete the rite on the beach itself. Pambady on the banks of River Bharathappuzha in Thiruvilwamala, Thrissur also saw hundreds of people from the surrounding areas offering Bali. But the most important Bali centre on River Bharathappuzha remained the historic sandbeds of the Nava Mukunda temple at Tirunavaya in Malappuram district.

The Papanasini Bali venue in Thirunelli, Wayanad witnessed unprecedented rush of devotees reaching to perform the rite. In the context of the security threats, policemen in large numbers had been deployed in the area, and believers were made to approach the river through metal detectors. Thousands took dip in the river daring the heavy rains and completed Bali Tharpan here.

Meanwhile, Temples in Kerala remained closed during the time the partial solar eclipse on Friday. The Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) had given special instructions to temples under it to close doors at the time of the partial solar eclipse. The Kerala State Science and Technology Museum in Thiruvananthapuram had made extensive arrangements on its campus for people to view the eclipse.

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