Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Festivals & Fairs

Festivals - Hindus | Christians | Muslims


Monthiyan Festival

This festival is held in the month of Adi  at Thiruvalavayannallur near Madurai.

The festival commences only if the deity gives permission  by the chirping of a lizard in particular direction or at a particular spot, viz. in a mango or a coconut tree. Prayer continues till the lizard chirps. At the chirping, a devotee get possessed  and inspired and dictates the mode of celebration. The streets are then decorated with Margosa  leaves, tied on straw ropes. On that day the priest of the Ayyanar temple takes a token sod of earth from the temple tank  for making models of horses to be offered to the deity. He is paid a nominal fee for preparing the earthen  horses.

The horse models are taken  to the Ayyanar temple in a ceremonial  procession  with prescribed services to the village deity Monthiyan, where the horse-models are mounted  on a cart. A party of Chakkiliayans, dressed in colourful costumes, come in procession  from the temple  of Sonachami  to the Monthiyan  temple. Carrying a palm-leaf basket containing unhusked paddy, a small knife and a small pole. At the Monthiyan  temple, the Chakkiliyan pujari places the paddy at the feet of the horse-model, sacrifices a cock and smears its blood on the eyes of the horse-model .While doing so, the pujari has his eyes tied with a piece of white cloth. Then the horse model are taken  in procession  to the Ayyanar  temple  headed by the woman  of the Kanakkan's family, who carry new earthen pots.

At the Ayyanar temple, the deity Ayyanar  is worshipped and cooked  food and a bloody sacrifice are offered  to the Ayyanar. On the fourth and final day, the villagers celebrate 'bull-chasing'. The rope to tie the bulls is prepared by the pallans out of straw and coir. When the rope has been woven  it is placed  before the Kaniyalan, the clan deity of the Pallans. The Pallan  pujari,  after some religious  oblations  gets possessed  and hands  over the rope  to the pallans, which is then taken in procession  to the  Monthiyan  temple, where God's blessings are invoked to the coir. One end of the coir is fastened to a pole  firmly run in to the ground. Four persons keep the rope  intact at this end. The other end of the rope  is tied round the neck of a bull. The bull is decorated with garlands and a token coin and eatables are tied  to its neck. The crowd  scares the bull which runs amuck around the pole carrying  the long heavy rope and gets tired. Of such bulls brought to participate in the chase, the first bull will always be that of a Muslim. After this to the village deity and the festival is happily concluded.