The Kumbha Bharani festival, also known as the Bharani Utsavam, is a spectacular annual celebration held at the famous Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple at Kayamkulam, in Alappuzha district, Kerala. A festival of striking colours and processions the Chettikulangara Kumbhabharani is held on the Bharani asterism of the Malayalam calendar month of Kumbham (February-March)
The festival is an offering of the people of Chettikulangara to their beloved deity for the blessings she showers on them for their devotion and unflinching faith. The famed Kettukazhcha processions in which brightly decorated ettigies of the deities are taken on chariots, and the ‘Kuthiyottam’ (Procession of young boys who observe certain austerities) are major highlights of the Kumbhabharani festival is the most popular of the Kumbhabharani festivals held in Kerala’s Bhagavati temples.
The Kettukazhcha procession in which the incredibly gigantic structures are taken on chariots (Therus) is the major attraction of the festival. Excited crowds surround the sky-high structures carrying the deities, the air reverberating with chants and prayers. The effigies in the Kettukazhcha procession include six horses (Kuthiras),five chariots (and effigies of Bheema, Hanuman, and Panchali, all are brought to Chettikulangara from thirteen nearby places. The horses are 70 to 75 feet and are a union of four parts- Adikkoottu, Kathirakal, Edakkodaram, Prabhada and Melkkoodaram, one above the other respectively. Adikkottu forms 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 to guide movement. The 35 foot high Kathirakal consist of four long poles interconnected with Arecanut poles known as ‘Alaku’ and reinforced with coir and Panavalli knots. They are decorated with glittering material and embellishments called ‘Thookku’ Prabhada consists of exquisite wooden carved sculptors narrating stories from Puranas. Edakkoodaram, also colourful and glittering, stands above the Kathirakal.The top-most structure is the pyramid-shaped Melkkoodaram 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, gaint coir ropes (Vadams) over 100 feet in length and huge iron structures.
The wooden effigies of Bhima and Hanuman are probably the largest of their kind in the world and are surely the largest in Kerala. A sculpture of an old woman called ‘Eechadi Vallyamma’ also goes also goes along with the structure of Bheema. Kettukazhcha procession is accompanied by ‘Kuthiyottappattu’, which is a kind of song sung with the Kuttiyottam ritual. The Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha celebrates the architectural and aesthetic abilities of the people of Chettikulangara in the yesteryears, who sculputed these larger than life images through sheer collective effort and will power.
Preparations for constructing the Kettukazhchas begin from Sivarathri, about six to ten days prior to Kumbhabharani.
On the evening of Kumbhabharani, the Kettukazhchas are taken to the temple by hundreds of people, and are displayed in the paddy field near the temple. After Bhagavathi’s procession, the Kettukazhxhas are taken back to the respective Karas by next morning. The dismantled parts of Kettukazhchas are kept at the ‘Kuthirappura’ of each Karas.
- Aarattu at Padmanabhaswami Temple
- Kerala Tribal Festival
- Kerala Drama Festival at Puthenthope, Thiruvananthapuram
- Festival at St Theresa’s church, Mahe
- Kanjiramattom Nercha
- Cochin to witness Script 2011- International Short film festival
- Kerala celebrates 2nd Kite festival at Cherai beach, Cochin
- Kerala All Set for Grand Kerala Shopping Festival