Wednesday, July 27, 2011

KARKIDAKA VAVU

In Kerala people are familiar with Malayalam Calendar also like CE calendar.It is much popular among Hindus since dates of many festivals are determined using that calendarIt is known as 'Kolla Varsham'.Like the CE calendar the year is divided  in to twelve months and weeks are of seven days.Months are Chingam,Kanni,Thulam,Vrichikam,Dhanu,Makaram, Kumbham,Meenam,Medam,Idavam,Midhunam and Karkidakam.Months are according to the zodiac signs of constellations such as Aries,Taurus,Gemini,Cancer,Leo,Virgo,Libra,Scorpio,Sagittarius,Capricorn,Aquarius, and pisces.The month Chingam is Leo,Kanni is Virgo,Thulam is Libra,Vrichikam is Scorpio and Karkidakam is Cancer.
Week days are Njayar,Thinkal,Chovva,Budhan,Vyazham,Velli,Sani(Njayar is Sunday and Sani is Saturday).Every day denotes a particular star and twenty seven stars are taken in to account and they are   Aswathy,Bharani ,Karthika,Rohini,Makayiram,Thiruvathira,Punartham,Pooyam,Aayilyam,Makam,Pooram,Uthram,Atham,Chithira,Chothi,Visakham,Anisham,Thrikketta,Moolam,Pooradam,Uthradam,Thiruonam,Avittam,Chathayam,Pooruruttathi,Uthrittathi,Revathy.Every day is divided in to 60parts known as 'nazhikas' and astrologers calculates which star will be on a particular day when they prepare the calendar.
The annual temple festival is also determined using the star of the day.This means that if the festival started on 5th Chingam this year, it may be starting on 7th Chingam next year.Hindus celebrate their birthday also according to the star.If the birthday is on 15th this year it may be on 14th next year which happens because of the time difference which occurs because of the movements of the respective star
The climatic changes are also much familiar with the Malayalam Calendar for the Kerala People.
The main rainy seasons are known as Idavappathy(Rainy season from the  mid of Idavam month) and Thula varsham(rain of month Thulam).Kumbha Bharani,Dhanu Thiruvathira,Vishu,Makara Samkranti etc are some festivals calculated using Malayalam calendar other than annual festivals of all temples in Kerala.

Karkidakam has several special features.In olden days it was the most feared month of the year.People were depending on agriculture then and unexpected  heavy rainfall caused much  loss to the paddy cultivation because of floods.The almost ripen rice plants would be destroyed if it lay immersed in water for more than three or four days.Thus the farmers would be praying to God for avoiding such calamities.The paddy fields harvest were done in Chingam and Kanni months.If nothing happened wrong, everybody would be happy and the festival ONAM would be celebrated splendidly in the first month of Chingam.
In Karkidakam many epidemics and diseases like flu and cholera were also  in common and some times fatal too.
Now, the things have changed a lot.Agriculture is not the main source of income and many diseases are under control.But still now Kerala people follow some of the old practices in Karkidakam.Ayurvedic physicians claim that Karkidakam is the most suitable month for 'Pancha Karma Treatments' which many people who are able to spend money and time utilizes.'Marunnu Kanji'(Rice soup made from rice and several herbs) taken as a meal for one time in a day   for the full month  will keep us healthy during the whole year.
Moreover the holy epic book 'Ramayanam'(Adhyathma Ramayanam written by Thunchath Ezhuthachan) is recited everyday in most of the Hindu homes.It starts from 1st of Karkidakam and reads 30 to 40 pages  a day and finishes by the end of the month.So Karkidakam is also known as 'Ramayana Masam'(Month of Ramayanam).
The most auspicious 'Karkidaka vavu' is in this month.It is the remembrance day for the departed relatives.People do 'Bali' on this day for the ancestors and dead relatives.Bali is the solemn offerings to the departed souls.On the 'KarkidakaVavu' day which is the no moon day of Karkidaka month people do this homage.It can be done in our house or at places near river or sea.Many temples adjacent to river and sea makes arrangements to perform this ritual annually.It is believed that the celestial beings(Devas) has one day equal to our one year.The same case is for the souls also.We need to give food to them once in a year only.It is believed that they visit us on Karkidaka vavu day.We prepare rice and offer to them.
Only a very small quantity of rice is needed which is taken from the temple or prepared outside the house in the lawn, after taking bath and wearing a clean white dhoti.Mostly men perform this ritual but women and children are also allowed to do it.After wearing a ring made of 'Darfa'(A type of holy grass) on the third finger of right hand,three darfa pieces are kept on a banana leaf.The souls of the departed relatives and fore-fathers are requested to come.Offerings of rice,water,milk,sesame seeds,sandalwood paste,Cheroola(a herb which is considered as a flower also)   etc are placed in small quantities on the leaf.A piece of thread taken from the Dhoti is  placed as a symbol of offering them dress also and bows to them.
In one sense we can understand that  this is all symbolic to express our love and affection towards the departed souls.Afterwards the leaf containing these items will be thrown  to the river or sea and the performer has to dip in the water and take bath again.
There will be millions of people gathering in places like Thiruvallam temple in Thiruvananthapuram,Sanghum mugham beach in Thiru   vananthapuram,Varkala Papanasam beach,Thirumullavaram temple beach in Kollam,Thirunavaya,Aluva,Thirunelli temple,Thirumantham kunnu temple etc.
'Vavada' is a sweet item made in homes to offer the 'Devas' for Karkidaka vavu(and ofcourse for ourselves

also).Rice flour made in to a thick dough is spread on to plantain leaf pieces in round shape.Scraped coconut mixed with jaggery is spread over it.Beaten rice(rice flakes) can also be added with the coconut mixture if necessary.The leaf is folded side to side and the corners are folded in.This is steamed to cook.This may be prepared several times in our homes  in an year and known as 'ada'  but for 'Karkidaka vavu' this is an unavoidable item and termed as 'Vavada'
On Karkidaka vavu day this sweet item as well as'Payasam' and a  feast is made for the family members to create an impression to convince  our departed souls that we are living happily.We do not want them to mourn for us.Let them be happy where they are is our intention.Even though the sweets and a feast is made on that day; due to the intensified remembering and  diversified thoughts about our loved departed relatives makes  us
gloomy on that day. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PROUD HERITAGE

Kerala is comparatively a small state in India but it has unique characteristics in many aspects.Kerala has
earned fame as 'The God's own Country' because of many reasons.The climate is moderate with ample
rainfall throughout the year.Even though small in size forty four rivers flow through this state making this land
fertile.There are fresh water lakes and back waters also.The land scape of hills and valleys, dense forests and fertile plains with green lush vegetation creates
  immense  beauty  that attracts tourists to Kerala.There is a  long stretch of coastal line
from one end to the other end which have beautiful beaches also that makes this state marvelous for the visitors.
Hindus,Christians and Muslims live in harmony here.Kerala state has the large number of Christians in India
than in other states.It is believed that St.Thomas visited Kerala and converted many Hindus to Christianity.
So, in that regard,  many of the Christian families of Kerala have their origin from the starting of that religion itself.The oldest
Church in India is in Kerala and the largest Church in India is also in Kerala.Like that Islam religion also spread in Kerala widely.The people of Kerala gives prior importance to education.Kerala used to be always on the top in literacy rate in India.Women also study well and achieve good positions like men.The people of Kerala
have earned reputation as hard working and reliable.They are employed in all parts of India and abroad.The Kerala people has the ability to mingle with the society they live in.
The people of Kerala leads a simple way of life and wear simple dress also.Men wear Dhoti and shirt and
women wear Saree with blouse or Churidar.Rice is mostly used but wheat is also used by many families for
one time meal.Vegetables and fish are more consumed than meat.Most of the Hindus do not use Beef and
Pork.For Hindu ceremonies like marriage and birth day  celebrations only vegetarian feasts are prepared.On these
occasions and for religious festivals like Onam. Vishu etc also Vegetarian feast with several dishes and
sweets known as  'Sadya' is made.'Ada Pradhaman' is a main sweet item of Sadya. It is 'ambrosia'(Payasam)
made from rice and jaggery.(Jaggery is made by boiling sugarcane juice)
'Sadya'
Raw rice  made to a fine paste is spread on small plantain leaves, rolled, tied and put in boiling water.After some time they are taken out and put in cold water.The rice flakes are removed from the leaf, cut in to small pieces and again put in to a large brass vessel which is  known as 'Uruli'.Coconut milk mixed with water and jaggery is also added.After boiling for some time ghee is added with dry grape fruits and fried cashew nuts.Then pure coconut milk is added mixed well and removed from the flame.The product is 'ada pradhaman' which is an essential part of all sadya in Kerala.Other sweet items like 'Semiya payasam'
'Kadala payasam' 'Boli' etc are also prepared for sadya.The sadya will be served on plantain leaves.
Kerala People enjoys to celebrate all festivals. Festivals like Onam.Christmas,Bakrid,Vishu etc are celebrated by all people together.Hindus have the large number of festivals.The common Hindu festivals celebrated in India such as Sivarathri,Janmashtami,Navarathri,Deepavali etc are celebrated here also and apart from that
in Kerala; Onam,Vishu,Meena Bharani,Karkidaka Vavu,Thaipooyam etc are also celebrated in addition.
There are one or two temples in all villages in Kerala.The annual temple festival for ten days consecutively
is a custom.On all days of the festival period different varieties of programs such as dance,drama,Kathakali
etc are staged in these temples.Most of the art forms of Kerala were originated to perform in temples.Some of the art forms date back to several centuries.The art form 'Koodiyattam' is more than 2000 years old.
The ritualistic art forms 'Padayani' and 'Theyyam' is older than Koodiyattam.Padayani and Theyyam are
Dravidian cults and there is no influence of Aryans on them.
Some myths and beliefs of certain celebrations may seem ridiculous but fun loving Kerala people are least
bothered about that.They are proud about their heritage and culture and give full support to celebrate all festivals splendidly gorgeous.The younger generation are also in the fore front to  celebrate ancient ritualistic
festivals like Padayani and Theyyam with full enthusiasm.