Month of piety and prayers starts for Kerala Hindus

published on July 16, 2012

Nearly five million Hindu homes of Kerala would reverberate with Ramayana recital for the next 30 days as the month of Karkataka – month of physical and spiritual purity and faith – of the Malayalam calendar began on Monday. The month would also see Hindus of the State visiting temples of Lord Rama and his brothers regularly.

The Keralites welcomed the holy month, which used to be a period of poverty and penury not long ago, on Sunday evening with the traditional customs of cleaning their homes and casting away the inauspicious (Potti) from the household and inviting Seebothy (Sree Bhagavati, Goddess of Prosperity).

In Karkataka, seen as the last month of the Malayalam calendar, the elderly members of the family would spend their evenings by reading Adhyatma Ramayana, the Kerala version of Valmiki Ramayana written by Thunchath Ezhuthachchan, revered as the father of the Malayalam language.

“I have been reading Ramayana in Karkataka for the past 30 years,” said 87-year-old Ammini Amma of Irinjalakkuda in Thrissur district, mother of six children and grandmother of 17. “Not even a simple flu has troubled me in any of these years and I take it as a sign of Sree Rama’s blessing. I will continue to do it till I die,” she said.

The custom is to read the text sitting in Padmasana in the light of the Nilavilakku (the traditional oil lamp) in the evening. The reader is supposed to finish reading the entire six-canto Adhyatma Ramayana in the 30 days of the month. “By Sree Rama’s blessing, I have never had any problem in finishing the book within these 30 days,” Ammini Amma said.

Karkataka is also the month for visiting the temples of Lord Rama and his three brothers (Nalambala Theerthadanam or the four-temple pilgrimage) as far the Kerala Hindus are concerned. The four-temple pilgrimage is to be carried out on a single day and Hindus believe that it brings boundless blessings from God.

In central Kerala, the most famous Nalambala Theerthadanam covers the Sree Rama temple of Thriprayar, the Bharata temple of Koodalmanikyam at Irinjalakkuda, the Lakshmana temple of Moozhikkulam and the Shatrughna shrine at Payammal. The Nalambala pilgrimage of this Karkataka started at 3.30 am Monday when the Thriprayar temple opened for morning Poojas.

“I have already booked my seat in the bus for the pilgrimage,” said Chirutheyi, a bamboo artisan belonging to a scheduled caste from Kumaranellur in Thrissur district. Chirutheyi, 73, has been doing this pilgrimage for the past seven years. “I don’t know how many years more I can do this. But I am sure I will do it as long as I can stand on my legs,” she said.

The month of Karkataka is important for worshipping Lord Ganapati and this is done by Kerala Hindus by giving sumptuous food to elephants (Anayoottu). The most famous Anayoottu in Kerala is being held at the Sree Vadakkunnatha temple at Thrissur, where 60 elephants took part in the programme on Monday.

The Anayoottu in Thrissur on Monday was preceded by an Ashtadravya Mahaganapati Homam, a ritual to propitiate Lord Ganesa for which 10,000 coconuts, 2,500 kilos of jaggery, 1,500 kilos of rice flakes, 200 kilos of ghee, 100 kg of honey, sugar, etc were used. The Vadakkunnatha temple has been performing this Homa for the past 30 years.

Karkataka is also the month for the most effective Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy because of the rich monsoon rains which create a cool and humid atmosphere. The various Ayruveda establishments and tourism houses have announced attractive packages of Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy.

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