The Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani festival, one of the most colourful visual spectacles from these parts of the State with its ‘Kettukazhcha’ pageant and ‘Kuthiyottam’ performances, is preparing to
be bestowed with the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) status awarded by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The festival, which will be held on Saturday at the Chettikulangara Devi temple, which has the Goddess Bhadrakali as the main deity and believed to be over 1,200 years old, will have a team from the
UNESCO ICH wing, including its India director Arumugam Parasuraman, witnessing the event. A few members of the team, including Mr. Parasuraman, arrived at Chettikulangara on Thursday, along with a representative of the Union Ministry of Culture.
The team, which is here to learn about the festival and see whether it can be bestowed with the ICH status, which will make the festival eligible for assistance for protection and conservation, will also witness a display with explanation on the folklore related to the event apart from video presentations of the entire proceedings. The Central Culture Ministry’s representative is also with the team since it will be based on the recommendations of the Centre that the event gets the status.
Preparations for the Kumbha Bharani festival at the temple began seven days ago on the day of Maha Sivaratri, and the 13 provinces that are part of the temple have been in a festive mood since. People who offered ‘Kuthiyottam’ performances to the deity began training children since Sivaratri and on all seven days, they have been offering food to whoever turns up at their homes. The construction of the colourful effigies for the ‘Kettukazhcha’ too began that day.
If the festival manages to get onto the ICH list, it will join Koodiyattam, Ramlila, Vedic Chanting, Ramman, a religious festival and ritual of Uttarakhand, and Navroze, the few other events from India that made it to the list earlier.