Monday, July 15, 2024

Festivals & Fairs

Festivals - Hindus | Christians | Muslims


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.