Celebrated In : Kollam, Kerala
Significance : Kottakulangara Temple, Chavara.
In the month of : March/April
Main Ritual : Men dressing up as women as an offering to the deity
Kottankulangara Chamayavillanku is a unique festival, which is held at the Kottankulangara temple in Chavara, near Kollam, where hundreds of sturdy men dress up as comely females. This is an offering to the goddess Bhagavathy, the deity of the temple. In this unique ritual called 'Chamaya Vilakku' (make-up lamp), the 'Damsels' come to the temple at night in a long procession with lighted lamps in their hands. The ritual occurs during March - April each year.
This is the season of temple festivals in Kerala.People those who stay far away from hometown adjust their leave in such a away that they can join these festivals of their village temples.It's totally a different experience,getting a chance to pray during the annual festival time,when the temple is decorated and at the auspicious moments,getting a chance to meet the long lost friends.And a chance to witness the celbrations in a wide scale,the orchestra,dance programmes,kathaprasangam[story with recitation]and the amazing fireworks.
Kottankulangara chamayavilakku is a unique festival,which is held at the Kottankulangara Sreedevi Temple,Chavara,Kollam,Kerala.The presiding deity is Bhagavathy and is Swayambhoo[self-origin] and faces east.There is no roof for the Sanctum Sanctorum.Three poojas are offered and thanthric rites are administering the Adimattam.Sub-deities are Sasthavu,Yakshi and Nagarajavu.From Meenam1st to 11th the temple festival is celebrated.The uniqueness of this temple is that the boys and gents derss themselves as girls and ladies to hold the traditional temple lamp.
Can you believe,thousands of gents[from boys to older people] dress up as beautiful females.This is an offereing to the Goddess.I must say,they look awesome!
In this unique ritual,Chamayavilaku[make-up lamp] the damsels come to the temple at night in a long procession holding the lighted lamps in their hands.The ritual occurs during March-April,every year.
Applying kaajal[that we apply in the eyes],putting a striking bindi on the forehead,jasmine strands on the long hair,wearing sarees,traditional Kerala Mundum veshti,salwar kameez or skirt and blouse,the gents look enchanting.:)
Parents accompany their sons,wives their husbands and a group of friends to dress up their friends as the best female.Fulfilling the temple tradition,they will be holding the lamps,mounted on along wooden rod with five lighted wicks.Men do this offering for their dreams to come true and for expressing gratitude for the blessings received.Devotees want to wash away their sins at the sacred presence of the Goddess.
There are many stories about the origin of the festival,but the most popular one says,a group of boys who used to herd cows would playfully dress up as girls andoffer flowers and a coconut dish called,'kootan' to a stone.The story continues that Goddess appeared one day before one of the boys.Subsequently a temple came up and the ritual of men dressing up as women to offer prayers to teh Goddess got underway.Kottnkulangara Sree Devi temple is thrteen kilometres away from Kollam.
The gents who want to dress up as females must observe certain rituals.They begin the rituals by the end of the previous month,Kumbham.One can get this long lamp on rent from the nearby shops.The hotels will be fully booked.The temple premises and houses will become the greenrooms.Professionals are available to change you into a beautiful damsel within no time.Photographers are ready.The photos give sweet memories.
There will be cultural programmes for eighteen days.During these days,the stage will be built under the huge banyan tree.Only devotional musical programmes will be presented.The villagers and devotees offer the vegetables and fruits to the Goddess.This ritual is known as Anpolippara.By 2a.m,gents dresse as damsels will stand in two lines for the procession holding the lighted lamps.
In the beginning boys under fifteen years used to dress up as girls.But today irrespective of age gents come forward for this unique offering.This year this festival is celebrated on 24th and 25th March for two days.
Those who have come once will come again for teh forthcoming festival.That is the strong belief of the devotee in the Goddess.
May Goddess Bless One And All!
Friends,let us know the different festivals,rituals and traditions of our own native place.Festivals are occasions of arousing devotion,unity and communal harmony.This is the happy occasion of family get togethers.Filling our minds with positive energy,let us surrender ousrelves at the lotus feet of the Goddess.
It's Anu signing off................
Kottankulangara chamayavilakku is unique and and it is a religious offering!
When the tender green leaves of the banyan trees whisper in the evening breeze,
When boys and gents are getting ready to be transformed as the beautiful damsels,
I remind you.