From special discounts on religious books to ready-made mix of ‘Karkidaka Kanji,’ a special gruel made during this season, the city markets are all set for the ‘panja’ month, as it is popularly known.

Decades ago, ‘Karkidaka masam’ was marked by heavy rain, a time when people prayed to the Gods to prevent nature’s fury. Times have changed and so have the prayers, but some traditions continue to be followed.

From special discounts on religious books to ready-made mix of ‘Karkidaka Kanji,’ a special gruel made during this season, the city markets are all set for the ‘panja’ month, as it is popularly known. This year Karkidaka Masam, the last month in the traditional Malayalam calendar, starts on July 16 and ends on August 16.

The month, also known as the ‘Ramayana masam,’ is normally dedicated to reading the Ramayana and following other religious rituals.

“The month represents a time when there is heavy rain and people read the Ramayana to build self-confidence during the difficult times. It is not always possible to complete the entire book, so mostly ‘Sundarakandam,’ the fifth book is read,” academic M.G. Shashibhooshan says.

In connection with the season, the State Institute of Languages is organising a month-long ‘Darshinika Pushthakolsavam,’ starting on July 16.

“This is a month for reading as per tradition. Thirty new collections of philosophical books and other religious texts will be available at special discounts,” M.R. Thampan, director, says.

Mr. Shashibhooshan says that in the Hindu tradition, it is believed that the sage Valmiki completed the epic Ramayana during this month. It also marks the season for a ritual dedicated to dead ancestors and relatives that is performed on the Amavasi or no-moon day when people visit seashores and riverbanks to perform the Bali ritual, he says.

Another age-old tradition of savouring the Karkidaka kanji, a spicy mix of rice and medicinal herbs, remains intact among a few families even today. While it may now have become difficult to find the herbs in the courtyards of houses, branded ‘Karkidaka kanji’ ready mix is available in the market.

“There is good demand for the product among people who want to follow the tradition, but are unaware of the herbs and medicinal plants that go into it. The special mix is already available in the market,” Reghunandanan V. Menon, an official at Oushadhi, a public sector company manufacturing Ayurvedic products, says.