The sanctum sanctorum of Kerala, Sri Padmanabaswamy Temple is often in the news for its boundless hidden treasures and divine-sheltered clandestine history. Let the doors remain closed and secrets stay as secrets. The events outside the temple are interesting and queer as well. From “Kodiyettu” where flags are hoisted to the closing ceremony consisting of the holy bath, a myriad of mystical events happen, giving importance to numerous legends. The 10-day panguni festival put its best efforts to propitiate the Rain God, Indira. Also you find the fiber-glass figurines of the five children of Pandu, the father of the Pandavas in the great epic Mahabharatha are placed at the eastern entryway.
Drums and cymbals make their way in along with deities in caparisoned elephants and the Royal Travancore family guarded by cops. He does the “Palli Vetta” or “Royal Hunt” ritual on the ninth day of the festival, nearby the premises of Vettakorumakan Temple in the Fort arena. Here, he shoots arrows at the tender coconut symbolising Krishna demolishing a devil. This event happens on eve of “Arattu”. While “Mannu Neeru Koral” precedes the whole event and “Shanthi Homangal” , the religious ceremonies and rituals is another vital occurrence during the celebration. “Para Vela Ottam” is performed with drums to mark the victory of Pandavas over Kauravas, and how they ran for life in the war.
Tidbit: The Thiruvananthapuram airport runway closes for few hours during the “Arattu” or holy bath procession while NOTAM (Notice to Air Men) is issued. This happens with Alpassi festival also.
‘Velakkali’ – The Blend of Dance and Martial Art
Legend has it that Lord Naradha’s wish of popularizing a novel art form after admiring young Krishna playing with stalks and leaves as daggers and shields were fulfilled through “Velakkali”. With its ancestral roots from “Ambalappuzha Velakkali” where Lord Krishna was the prime deity, this unique artform happened. Velakkali is one of the 99 “Arangams”. After rigorous training for nearly three years, students become adept to perform all those predicament moves effortlessly.
This art form looks like Kalaripayattu embracing Kathakali making Velakkali an ineffable portrayal of a sophisticated choreography.
‘Arattu’ – The Valorous Valediction
Dolled up in his traditional attire, the leader of the Royal Travancore Family directs the whole divine crew to the Shankumugham Beach for the holy bath. The century-old tradition of drenching the images of Sree Krishna, Sree Padmanabhaswamy, and Sree Narasimha is held at Shankumugham Beach along the coasts of the Arabian sea. Using traditional torches, the idols after a sanctifying bath,are taken back to the temple in a procession.
Lord Vishnu here as Padmanabaswamy reclines on the serpent “Anantha”. It will be surprising to see that Lord Vishnu’s statue can be seen only through three entrances, One to worship the Head, one to feet and the middle one to see the central portion of the statue. The temple has a 100 feet tall “gopuram” and was renovated in 1733 with numerous sculptures and intricately designed figurines. The blend of Dravidian and Kerala architecture in and around the milieu has been attracting lot of Hindu population every day.
The upcoming PANGUNI festival is from 14-March-2019 to 23-March-2019.
Location : Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Trivandrum, Kerala.