The Kambam Festival
The Kambam or pillar festival is celebrated in most villages.
The initiation of the festival take place on Tuesday by fetching
the flowers of Alari and offering it to the Ayyanar deity.
On the same day, the next week, a three-pronged branch of
Margosa is brought in and ceremoniously planted in front of the
temple. This is a ceremony corresponding to the hoisting of the
flag, with this, the festival has officially commenced and no one can
leave the village until the conclusion of the festival. For
a whole week man dance around the Kambam in the evenings.
On the next Tuesday, the villagers cook pongal in the
temple premises. On Wednesday, the chariot is dragged around
the streets. A small live lamb is placed down with its neck under the
wheel of the moving chariot and is thus sacrificed. This is
done at every street corner. The lambs so sacrificed are given
away to the dhobis as consideration for decorating the chariot.
On Thursday, a score of men pierce their skins with needles
and sharpened skewers and take out a procession. The women
prepare Mavilakku (a ball of sweetened rice flour with a wick burning
at the top fuelled with ghee). Each woman carriers a plate of Mavilakku
which is decorated with flowers of the Alari tree. On that night,
the deity is taken round the streets in a decorated palanquin. Fire works
are displayed to add to the fun. On Friday the celebrations
come to a close. The Kambam planted before the temple is up rooted taken
ceremoniously around the streets and finally dropped into a well,
during this procession the villagers spill coloured turmeric
water on one another. Women from every house carry Mavilakku to the temple
in their palms as offering to the deity.
On the eighth day, the pandaram (priest) enters into
a fast. Before he commences the fast, he is taken in procession
to a well. He carries on his head the Kambam or a new earthen
pot decorated with flowers and leaves of Margosa. After a bath, an
amulet is tied to his wrist by a Brahmin priest. The
Pandaram then enters the temple and lives with in its premises for the
next three days. On the ninth day, a collective offering of Pongal
is made to the deity. All the families in the village are notified
by tom-tom about the exact time of the offering. Those who offer
to prepare the pongal are taken in procession to the village,
square where the pongal is prepared individually, offered to the
deity and then distributed to the congregation as prasadam.
On the tenth day, the Mavilakku offering is repeated
and at the end of the procession, the kumbam is dropped in to the
well. The pandaram cuts the amulet tied on his wrist and throws it in
to the well. On that night, drama (Therukkoothu) or dance is arranged.
Another festival is great importance is the Madurai Veeran
festival in villages. Animals are sacrificed during this festival.