Kerala temple festivals: Times for elephantine celebrations| Last Updated: February 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Festivals in Kerala are grand affairs; from majestic parades featuring at times more than 20 caparisoned elephants to over three million gathering for a religious activity at a single place.
Known for their pomp and pageantry, the temple festivals are occasions when the characteristic simplicity of Kerala lifestyle is put on suspended animation and the average Malayali goes all out to stage a show bound to impress one and all.
Travel.india.com lists three temple festivals to look for in February-March.
It’s the elephant equivalent of the Pampalona Bull Run and minus the blood and gore. Anayottam or elephant race marks the beginning of the annual festival at the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple. Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March), this year it falls on February 23.
No gold medals or wreath honours awaits the winner. The winner will have the honour of carrying the Thidambu (the replica of the idol of Guruvayoorappan) on all special occasions for one year.
The Guruvayur temple is one of the most renowned temples and the honour of being the Lord’s Favourite Mount carries much more prestige, atleast for their handlers.
It is the largest assembly of women for a religious event anywhere in the world. Over 3.5 million women participated in the annual Pongala festival at the renowned Attukal Bhagavathi temple in Thiruvananthapuram in 2012.
Only women are allowed to participate in the Pongala ritual which has earned it the sobriquet Sabarimala of women. Pongala (literally means to boil over). It is a ritualistic offering of a sweet dish consisting of rice, molasses, coconut, nuts and raisins. Devotees offer pongala as a tribute to the presiding deity, considered an incarnation of Parvathi. The event will be held on February 26.
The jamboree of jumbos is the largest in Kerala. Over 50 caparisoned elephants take part in the gajamela or festival of elephants held on the last day of the 10-day festival at the Kodimoottil Bhagavathy Temple at Paripally near Kollam.
What makes the gajamela special? Thrissur Pooram, considered the mother of all temple festivals in Kerala, only has 30 elephants. The elephant parade will be held on March 3.
First Published: February 22, 2013 at 1:18 PM