Monday, June 17, 2024

Fairs and Festivals


Among the innumerable festivals that take place all over Kerala, almost all the prominent ones are connected with religious institutions. The Utsavas of the Hindu temples and the Perunals of Christian and Muslim churches are of utmost importance to the community. There are certain festivities like the boat races, which originated to commemorate religious events but subsequently turned out to  be events of social importance. 


Navaratri This is the Durga Puja of Bengal, Dussera of Bombay and the Saraswati Puja and the Ayudha Puja of the south. Its entire course runs over 9 days. It is the last three days that are most important. These are known as Durga Ashtami, Mahanavami, and Vijaya Dasami. On the night of the Durga Ashtami day, there is the ceremony known as 'Puja Vayppu'. It consist in decorating a room splendidly, illuminating it with many lights and arranging on a platform, raised in the middle of the room, the things necessary for doing Puja to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Books and weapons of various kinds are tastefully arranged and a picture or image of the goddess placed in the centre. The worship then commences with accompaniment of music. This goes on night and day till the morning of the third day, when  the 'Puja Eduppu' or breaking up of the Puja takes place. After the performance of special religious service, the arrangements on the platform are formally removed and the Puja broke up. Then follows the 'Vidyarambham' or the beginning of learning. On the last three days of Puja, all sorts of learning are kept in abeyance; no one will read or write or do any handicraft or work with any material. Every sort of business is at a stand still. After the Removal of Puja, work commences. During the Puja Vayppu people generally fast.

 In Travancore the Navaratri is a state ceremony celebrated with great magnificence. During the old times in Padmanabhapuram, all gates of the city were beset with soldiers, and no one was allowed to go out or enter. The festival continued for eight days, and when it was over, the king distributed presents to Brahmans. Each received a rupee. The high priest presented to the king a Vastram; which is a piece of silk or cotton stuff, a Viraghen; worth about three scudi and a cow as the support of life because these people lived chiefly on milk and butter. Such a present is called Godanam. It is said that there is no evidence for that the Godanam or gift was made to the king by the high priest. The gift  must have been made by the king to the high-priest.

On Vijay Deshami day the Maharaja goes in state accompanied by the state officers and escorted by the military to a place called Pujappura a couple of miles from the fort at Trivandrum and shoots an arrow into consecrated tender coconut placed for the purpose. After this the procession returns and his highness standing in the Verandah of the 'Karivelappura Malika' in front of the Trivandrum temple strews money amongst the crowd collected below.