Sunday, May 28, 2023

Fairs and Festivals

Temple Festivals
Ochira Kali

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.