I was scrolling through Facebook. Suddenly, I found a post that interested me. It is the month of Karkidakam and the post was about Karkidakam, posted by my friend. She has uploaded a few pictures and has given a detailed description of the traditions they follow during the month of Karkidakam. I spoke to her and she explained to me about the practices like Mukkutti Chaandu, Karkidaka Kanji or Oushada Kanji or Marunnu Kanji (medicinal rice soup), Pathila(ten leaves) curry, or Thoran, etc. Her explanation inspired me to learn more about Karkidaka Masam and here is what I got!
Karkidakam, the last month of Malayalam is regarded as an auspicious month by Keralites. This month is commemorated with prayers, divinity, and spirituality. Known as Ramayana Masam, the Karkidakam starts from the 17th of July and ends by the 16th of August. This month is regarded as holy hence believers take Vratham.
The main attraction of this month is Ramayana Parayanam otherwise recital of Adhyathma Ramayanam Kilippattu. Ramayanam depicts the life journey of Lord Sree Ram. It is believed that the recitation of Ramayanam helps people to face challenges of life. At home and at temples, the reader sits in front of a lamp and recites Ramayana for 30 days. The month of Karkidakam is believed to be Panja Masam which means a month of scarcity and famine. It is believed that the recital gets the strength to face the struggles rigorously. If you are interested to be a part of this tradition, you can book Kerala tourism packages and plan a visit during this time.
Another highlight of this month is the pilgrim journey which is otherwise known as Nalambalam Darshanam or Yatra. Since Ramayana mentions the importance of bonding and relationship with your dear and near ones, traveling to pilgrim sites with family members is highly recommended. My friend said that she booked Kerala packages for her family and took part in the Nalambalam Darshanam worry-free. The Darshanam includes visiting Triprayar Sree Rama Temple, Koodalmanikyam Temple Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana Temple Moozhikulam, and Payammal Shatrughan Temple. The Darshanam includes offering prayers at temples that are dedicated to Lord Rama, Lord Bharatha, Lord Lakshmana, and Lord Shatrughan respectively.
Lakshmi Pooja – Sheepothi Orukkal
Karkidakam is also regarded as the month of Goddess Lakshmi hence special poojas are conducted. During these days, the houses are cleansed and purified. From the beginning of Karkidakam, devotees prepare Ashtamangalyam and Dasapushpam(Tulasi, Cheroola, Mukkutti, Karuka, Kayyunyam, Krishna Kranti, etc) in front of the Nilavilakku along with auspicious items like rice, gold, Sandalwood, Vaal Kannadi (a special type of handled mirror), small lamp, Kindi and Kasavu mundu (dhoti with a golden colored border). This traditional practice called Lekshmikku Ku Vyakkal or Sheepothi Orukkal is a major attraction of Karkidaka Masam.
Karkkidaka Vavu – Pithru Tharppanam
The new moon day in the month of Karkidakam is regarded as Karkidaka Vavu. The Vava is known for Vavubali otherwise called Pitru/Bali Tharpanam. The Tharpanam is held at the temple ghats/Theertha ghats/Balippura. The places to perform Karkidaka Bali in Kerala are as follows;
- Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple
- Thirunelli Papanasini
- Aluva Manappuram
- Thiruvilwamala Pamapady Ivar Madam
- Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple
- Varkala Janardhana Swami Temple – Papanasam Kadappuram
- Shanghumugham Kadappuram
- Neyyattinkara Rameswaram Mahadeva Temple
- Aruvippuram Shiva Temple
- Aruvikkara Devi Temple
- Thirumullavaram Mahavishnu Temple – Kadappuram
- Thrikkunnapuzha Sastha Temple
- Kadappattoor Mahadeva Temple
- Vedagiri Sastha Temple
- Vennimala Rama Temple
- Thodupuzha Krishna Temple
- Chelamattom Krishna Temple
- Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple
- Pampa Triveni Sangamam
- Elamkunnapuzha Subramanya Temple
- Vyttila Nettoor Mahadeva Temple
- Thrikkaripur Chakrapani Temple
Pilleronam (Onam of Children)
Pilleronam or Onam of Children was the main attraction of Karkidaka Thiruvonam day. But the prominence faded over the years. Usually, Pilleronam is celebrated 27 days before the month of Chingam. The celebration will be a mini version of Thiruvonam with a sumptuous meal and games followed by. If Pilleronnam comes back with glory, it is going to be amazing!
During the month of Karkidakam, people get up early in the morning and prepare a Chanthu from the crushed leaves of the Mukkutti plant. They will wear the Chanthu on the forehead and enjoy a special medicinal kanji along with a curry made of ten leaves.
Aanayoottu and Sukha Chikitsa
Aanayoottu is a prominent function during Karkidaka Masam. It marks the beginning of the treatment season for elephants. On the 1st of Karkidakam, a mass feast for elephants is organized at the Vadakkumnathan Temple; it is a great event for elephant lovers.
As per Ayurvedic experts, Karkidakam is the best time for Ayurvedic treatment. Cleansing techniques and other treatments including panchakarma are very effective during this time. Karkidakam is the best time to plan a Kerala tour. If you are keen to explore Kerala's tradition, then Karkidakam is the best time to visit this fascinating state!