Chettikulangara Kumbhabharani festival o is one of the Greatest Events on Earth.
Chettikulangara Bharani festival is celebrated in the month of Malayalam Month Kumbham is a fantastic event to the people of this locality and neighbouring places. So many people from other states and from abroad visits Chettikulangara during the festival occasion. Chettikulangara Bharani is also known as the Kumbhamela of South.
The highlight of Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani festival is Kuthiyottam and Kettukazha. Kuthiyottam is performed as an important offering to the deity. This is a kind of ritual dance practiced and performed continuously through several years . Celebrations and arrangement s can be seen in almost all houses in Chettikulangara and in neighbouring places. The houses are decorated, and the portrait of the Bhima is installed in temporary structures.
Kettukazhacha in Chettikulangara Bharani Festival
Kettukazhcha is an offering of the people of Chettikulangara to their beloved deity known for her spontaneous blessings on true devotees as a mark of gratitude, devotion, unflinching faith, and for showering prosperity and protection to their lives. Kettukazhcha displays deftly sculpted and decorated forms of six temple cars known as ‘Kuthira’ (Horses), five Theru’(Chariots ) and icons of Bhima and Hanuman. All the temple cars, chariots and the icons are all incredibly gigantic in size and are many times larger than any other similar Kuthiras and Therus built during the festivities at other temples in the
Travancore region. On the move, these out of the world sky
scrapping colourful decorations are electrifying, and will create an
unforgettable artistic impression in union, especially during the night in the
back drop of illuminated lights. Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha heralds the architectural
and aesthetic acumen of the ancient people of Chettikulangara, who could
convert an improbable out of the world concept to an enormous artistic reality,
achieved by collective hardships and will power.
Lineage according to historians on Chettikulangara Bharani festival
Historians attribute the concept of ‘Kettukazhchas’ - similar to the architecture of the Buddhatradition in square, rectangular and pyramid shapes, to the remnants of the Buddha culture which was widely prevalent in the
Travancore region a few centuries ago.
Many historians cite that the famous Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha in the present form is not more than 180 to 200 years old, and was started during the early part of the 19th century.
According to a popular legend, a group of village chieftains and their workers went for civil works to construct the Kollam–Chavara Thodu (canal), about 50 km away from Chettikulangara, in accordance to the decision from the then ruler of the region. But they could not return to their native place due to the unforeseen inordinate delay in completion of the canal. They pleaded with the authorities, but their request was turned down. During the period, they got an opportunity to visit the temple festivities at Kollam Mulankagakam temple, and were attracted by the Kettukazhcha there. They vowed to their local deity Chettikulangara Bhagavathy, that they would construct Kettukazhchas for her every year, if they were allowed to leave for Chettkulangara immediately. To their surprise, they were allowed to return to Chettikulangara the very next day, and as promised, they made huge Kettukazhchas and took them to their Bhagavathy's premises.
Kuthiras in Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani Festival
Kuthiras have a height of about 70 to 75 feet, and are a union of four parts– Adikkoottu, Kathirakal, Edakkodaram, Prabhada and Melkkoodaram, one above the other respectively.
Adikkottu the basic structure also known as Vandikkoottu, form the basic foundation which consists of four big wooden wheels interconnected with four other beams above it. Kuthiras have Thandu, two long huge wooden poles helpful to control the direction while on the move. Thandu and the basic structure are interconnected and have reinforced wooden bearings similar to the modern shock absorbers.
Kathirukal with about 35 feet height, consists of four long poles interconnected with Arecanut poles known as ‘Alaku’ and reinforced with coir and Panavalli knots. These are again strengthened with ‘Kuthukathrika’ or criss cross formation of Alakus. Kathirakal is again bifurcated to two parts–the lower portion consisting of four to five extended layers of Thattuand Charippu (slanting pyramid shaped boxes, made of interconnected Alakus and coir formation, then decorated with white cloth known as Vella, colourful glittering clothes and embellishments called ‘Thookku’.
Prabhada consists of exquisite wooden carved sculptors narrating stories from the Puranas, elephant caparisons called Nettipattoms, Thalekkettu and Aalavattom displayed in the backdrop of colourful clothes and sculptors. Many of the Prabhadas have stories like Gajendramoksham, Vasthrapaharanam,Krishnavatharm.
Edakkoodaram almost half the size of Kathirakal with four to five Charippu made as in the lower portion, comes above the Kathirakal. It also has glittering different clothes and Vella, interlaced with colourful Thookku embellishments.
Melkkoodaramthe top structure is exactly having a pyramid shape, and pivotal to it is an extended long sculpted wooden pole in white colour known as ‘Nambu’. All the separate units are pulled up and placed one above the other with the help of wooden pulleys, giant coir ropes called Vadams with a length of over 100 fts.and with huge iron structures, drawn by hundreds of people.
Theru in Chettikulangara Bharani Festival
Theru does not have the Prabhadas and Edakkoodarams. Their illithattu and charippu are larger than that of the Kuthiras and diminishes in size upwards. Therus are also smaller than the Kuthiras height.
Bhima and Hanuman The wooden icons of Bhima made by Mattom North and Hanuman brought by Mattom south are probably the largest of its kind in the world, and are sure to be the largest in Kerala. Bhima's icon is postured as the Pandava en route to kill Baka onPothu Vandi (vehicle drawn by buffalos) with food for the Rakshasa King. Mattom south kara also brings the icon of Panjali along with Hanuman
Preparations for constructing the Kettukazhchas start from Shivarathri, about six to ten days prior to Kumbhabharani. On the evening ofKumbhabharani, the Kettukazhchas are dragged to the temple by hundreds of people, and are paraded at the paddy field in front of the temple. After Bhagavathi's Ezhunnellippu to bless the Kettukazhchas and people, the Kettukazhchas are taken back to the respectiveKaras by next morning. The dismantled parts of Kettukazhchas are kept at the 'Kuthirappura' of each Karas.
Kuthiyottam in Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani Festival.
Kuthiyottam is performed as an important offering to the deity. This is a ritual dance practiced and perfected through several centuries. It used to be done only in houses in the 13 Karas of the
but after a recent Deva
Prashnam it was allowed to
conduct Kuthiyottam in the houses outside of the 13 Karas . The houses are decorated, and the
portrait of the deity is installed in temporary structures. Kuthiyottam starts
a week before Bharani day. It is a type of folk dance performed by youths with
the accompaniment of folk music and other musical instruments. Young boys
between 8 to 14 years are taught this ritual dance in the house amidst a big
social gathering before the portrait of the deity. Feasts are also provided for
all the people. Chettikulangara Temple
Early in the morning on Bharani, after the feast and other rituals, the boys whose bodies are coiled with silver wires, one end of which is tied around his neck and an arecanut fixed on the tip of a knife held high over his head are taken in procession to the temple with the accompaniment of beating of drums, music, ornamental umbrellas, and other classical folk art forms, and richly caparisoned elephants.
All through the way to the temple tender coconut water will be continually poured on his body. After the circumambulation the boys stands at a position facing the Sreekovil (Sanctum Sanctorum) and begins to dance. This ceremony ends with dragging the coil pierced to the skin whereby a few drop of blood comes out.
On this day just after mid day the residents of the locality bring huge decorated effigies of Bhima panchalia, Hanuman and extremely beautiful tall chariots in wheeled platforms, and after having darshan the parties take up their respective position in the paddy fields lying east of the temple.
During the night, the image of Devi will be carried in procession to the effigies stationed in the paddy fields. On the next day these structures will be taken back. A big bazar is also held at Chetikulangara as part of this festival.