This is an annual festival celebrated at Ochchira, a village near Kayamkulam
in Thiruvananthapuram district. This festival is celebrated in memory
of a battle between the Rajas of Quilon (Kollam) and Kayamkulam. The fight
is the final part of the festival of the Ochira Parabrahma temple here.
Thousands of devotees, including residents and tourists, witness the festival.
The Dynasty of the king of Kayamkulam was spread over
eight provinces. The battlefield is known as 'Ettukandam' or the eight
fields. Ochira Kali is conducted on the first and second days of
the Malayalam months Mithunam or Avany (June-July) annually during the
monsoon season. For seven days beginning with the first, it is popularly
believed that there will be incessant rain.
The participants fight each other in a mock battle standing
in knee-deep water, brandishing mock swords and shields while splashing
water and mud. On the first day, the fight is conducted from 8 am to 11
a.m. and on the second from 12 pm to 3 pm. Only men, usually from the
Nair community could take part in it. The appearance of a kite hovering
in the air summons the players to arms. Each player is dressed colourfully
in the native attire and armed with a sword and shield. The combatants
do not fight in pairs but in sets. The parties advance towards each other,
perform a number of movements forwards and backwards, with a single individual
standing in front on each side. The movements are first slow, but as the
fight progresses they become quicker and quicker. These resemble the movements
of assault and retreat in regular warfare. The kite appears again and
this time it is the signal for the tournament to stop. The same programme
is repeated on the second day.
The Ochira Parabrahma temple, is dedicated to universal
consciousness. The uniqueness of the temple is that there are no idols.