Vela at Palluruthy
There is a temple of Bhagavati at Palluruthi just a couple
of miles to the south of Mattanchery in Cochin. The celebration of Bharani
here is called Vela.
At Chertalay, there is a similar celebration in the month of Meenam on
the day of the Pooram asterism. Both at Palluruthi and at Chertalay, huge
figures worked in wicker and painted and decked in gaudy colours and tinsel
drapery to represent the Pandava brother and the stories and incidents
of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are constructed and placed in front
of the temple. They are lighted during the night and placed on men's shoulders
or are dragged on huge wheels round the temple. There are figures known
as, Annam (a kind of huge bird-like figure) of beautiful workmanship carried
round the temple sometimes on wheels and sometimes on the shoulders of
people. There is the padayani or vela in which the devotees who come to
take part in the celebration carry torches by night and advance towards
the temple with drums beating, fifes playing and with shouts. A similar
party advances from the opposite direction and the two come face to face
at the temple. They make much noise amidst this tumultuous revelry. Pop
guns are fired, rockets let off and other fire works exhibited. It ends
in a free fight between the opposing factions. Long established custom,
is made the excuse for this freedom.
At the celebration
of Bharani and Pooram all castes including high and low are allowed to
approach the temple, but they get no admission into it.