service the pilgrims are ordered out of the temple. Then the Valia or Senior Raja of
Kodungallur stands on the platform of the peepal tree in front of the eastern portico and
spreads a green umbrella. The crowds till then kept backrushes to the temple and
circumambulate in a frenzied and wild manner and then retire. Early next morning
i.e. on the Bharani day around 3 A.M. the Atikal again goes to the temple and makes
offering of payasam or sweet pudding, At 6 A.M. again cocks are sacrificed (now, of
course, symbo4ic) and various offerings like turmeric, pepper, coconut, live cock etc. are
thrown into the quadrangle.
On Karthika day, i.e. the
day after Bharani, the promises of the temple are swept clean. The Nambudiri priests enter
the temple and start the usual services after performing purificatory rites. The
hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who gather for the festival disperse quietly taking
prasad like sandal paste mixed with turmeric, and chantu, black paint of burnt rice.
The timing of the Bharani festival is noteworthy.
March-April-May is the hottest months in Kerala, which are also critical for
agriculturists. The fields are ploughed several times after the preceding crops are cut in
December-January. The farmers look skywards for merciful rains. The Bharani festival,
which takes place now, is obviously to please the Gods for good rains and bountiful crops.