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Vela at Palluruthy and Chertalai

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.


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