Chettikulangara Bharani 2020

A glimmpse of large tower like structure with beautiful decorations in Cheetikulanga Bharani Festival

Date: 29th February 2020.

Venue: Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikara, Alleppey.

A glimpse of Chettikulanga Bharani Festival in Mavelikara, Alleppey

The ‘Land of Festivals’, Kerala never ceases to amaze its fabulous visitors with the most vibrant and extraordinary festivals that are sure to delight them by offering glimpses into the rich heritage, culture and traditions of the state. Among them, the cultural and religious extravaganza, Chettikulangara Bharani is one of the famed and much-awaited festivals of Kerala. What makes the Chettikulangara Bharani Festival stand out among the other festivals is its special ‘Kuthiyottam’ ritual and the spectacular ceremonial procession, ‘Kettukazhcha’. The festival is so famous that it is under consideration to be presented with the Intangible Cultural Heritage status by UNESCOChettikulangara Bharani is a must-to-watch festival that reflects the cultural heritage of Kerala.

This year Chettikulangara Bharani will be celebrated on 29th February 2020 at the famous Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple near Mavelikara in Alleppey district.

Join us on this reading venture to know more about Chettikulangara Bharani:

Chettikulangara Bharani:

Chettikulangara Bharani, also known as Kumbha Bharani is one of the famous temple festivals in Kerala, celebrated with great religious fervor at the renowned Chettikulangara Sree Bhagavathy Temple, near Mavelikara in Alleppey district. Every year, it is observed on the Bharani asterism in the month of Kumbham according to the Malayalam calendar which mainly falls between the month of February and March.

A glimpse of large tower like structure in Chettikulanga Bharani Festival in Mavelikara, Alleppey

Chettikulangara Bharani is actually a post-harvest float festival, often held as a thanksgiving to Goddess Bhadrakali for the richest harvest gathered in and protection from calamities and diseases. This extraordinary festival presents a spectacular blend of culture, art, architecture, and the dedicated human endeavor of over 50,000 people. 

Highlights of Chettikulangara Bharani:

Chettikulangara Bharani Festival commences on the day of Maha Shivratri and concludes on the Bharani day. It is organized on behalf of 13 ‘karas’ or regions that comprise of the town Chettikulangara. The entire town comes to life and the festive fervor and merriment cover its landscape during the festival time. The main highlights of Chettikulangara Bharani are the ‘Kuthiyottam’ and ‘Kettukazhcha’.

A unique blend of dance, music and ritual, Kuthiyottam is considered as a symbolic human sacrifice to appease Goddess Kali. The person who took an oath to offer Kuthiyottam, adopt two or four pre-pubescent boys who are symbolically sacrificed. They are adopted on the day of Maha Shivaratri and are brought to the sponsor’s house where a canopy is erected, and a shrine of Goddess Kali is constructed. Then they are taught basic steps of Kuthiyottam by trained performers.

Worshippers during the Bharani Festival at the Chettikulangara Hindu Temple, Alappuzha, India.

On the day of Chettikulangara Bharani Festival, the boys are dressed up as Kings with a paper crown, bangles, etc and their abdominal skin is pierced with silver or golden thread. This ritual is known as Chooral (cane) Muriyal (cut) as cane threads were used instead of golden threads in olden days. They are then taken to the temple, accompanied by a pompous procession, where in front of the sanctum sanctorum they perform the steps taught to them to four songs sung in praise of the Goddess. The thread is then removed and offered to the Goddess. Kuthiyottam is a onetime ritual in their life for these boys as they are ritually dead now and may not take part in Kuthiyottam again. Sumptuous community feasts are served thrice a day at the sponsor’s house as part of the festival.

A glimpse of Chettikulangara Kettukazhcha

Kettukazhcha is the ceremonial procession of colourful and brightly decorated giant structures embellished with cloth, flowers, and ornaments. It is regarded as an offering to the Goddess for the favors received and to seek her blessings. The spectacular Kettukazhcha displays six gigantic temple cars known as ‘Kuthira’ (horse motifs), five ‘Theru’ (chariots), and mammoth idols of Bheema, Hanuman and Panchali which are drawn to the Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple from the 13 ‘karas’ or regions of Chettikulangara. These huge structures are constructed by thousands of people from the region, who work together tirelessly to create the 90 to 100 feet tall structures which shows the architectural and aesthetic expertise of the people of Chettikulangara as well as the harmony between them. The vibrant Kettukazhcha procession is accompanied by ritual folk arts like Padayani, Ammankudam Kolkali as well as  Kuthiyottam. 

Over half-a-million people participate in the fabulous Chettikulangara Bharani Festival with passion and devotion. Tourists from different parts of the world also join in this colourful and vibrant celebration. And the amazing Kettukazcha procession and the unique rituals are sure to leave them in surprise.

About Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple:

Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple is one of the most renowned Hindu temples in Kerala believed to be established by Lord Parashuram. The temple dates back to over 1200 years and is situated near Mavelikara in Alleppey district.

The facade of Chettikulangara Devi Temple in Mavelikara, Alleppey

Sree Bhadrakali is the main deity of this temple who is worshipped here in 3 different forms: Maha Saraswathi in the morning, Maha Lakshmi in the afternoon and Maha Kali or Durga in the evening. Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple is treated as a religious and cultural icon and the main attraction here is the massive oil lamp with 1001 lighting points known as Kuthuvilakku which is made up of granite. On the first day of every month, this lamp with 1001 lighting points is lit as an offering to Goddess Bhadrakali which is a special practice held at this temple.

Popular Tourist Attractions in Alleppey:

An amazing glimpse of Alleppey houseboat in Alleppey backwaters

Alleppey is a favourite holiday destination of tourists visiting Kerala. Iconic for its beautiful backwaters and houseboat cruises, Alleppey attracts tourists from all parts of the world. Besides, there are many other tourist attractions in Alleppey to explore. Some of them are:

Getting There:

By Air: Trivandrum International Airport and Kochi International Airport, about 111 Km and 126.6 Km respectively.

By Rail: Mavelikara Railway Station, about 5.6 Km.

By Road: Mavelikara is well-connected to all major cities and towns of Alleppey via road. State transport buses, private buses, autorickshaws and taxis are easily available to Chettikulangara Temple.

A small canoe boat in the Alleppey backwaters, Kerala

Mark your calendar now and miss not the fabulous Chettikulangara Bharani Festival and get captivated by the spectacular Kettukazhcha Procession.

Kerala Tourism Holiday offers various tour packages and customized tour packages to discover unique festivals and traditions of Kerala.

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