Thrissur is gearing up to usher in the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam, which Malayalis call ‘Panja masam’ (lean season).

Special ceremonies will be held at all major temples, beginning July 17.

Hindus believe that worshipping Lord Ganesa will ward off troubles of the season. The elephant, a symbol of Lord Ganesa, is worshipped.

As many as 70 elephants will be fed at the annual ‘Anayoottu’ (feast for elephants) to be held at the Sree Vadakkunathan Temple on Wednesday at 9.30 a.m. Temple Melsanti Kottampally Narayanan Namboodiri will offer rice balls to the youngest elephant of the lot to kick off the event.

At 7 a.m., ‘Gajapuja’, in which each elephant is worshipped, will be held. The ceremony is held at the temple once in four years.

The Sree Vadakkunatha Kshetra Kshema Samithy, the organiser, has insured the event for Rs.1 crore.

At 5 a.m., a team of 50 priests, led by Puliyannur Sankaranarayanan Namboodiri, will perform ‘Ashtadravya Maha Ganapati Homam’.

Around 12,000 coconuts, 3,500 kg jaggery and 1500 kg puffed rice will be used for the ceremony, the 30th edition of which is being conducted by the Samithy. Melam, led by Kizhakoottu Aniyan Marar, will be held in the evening.

Sacred experience

Karkkidakam is also called ‘Ramayana Masam’. Reading the Ramayana during the month is considered not only a sacred act but also a cultural experience.

Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan’s ‘Adhyatma Ramayanam’ is read over a month. Ezhuthachan narrates the tale of Valmiki Ramayana in the form of ‘Kilipattu’, that is, he depicts a parrot narrating the tale. For Hindus, Karkkidakam is a special time to worship Lord Rama.

In central Kerala, devotees visit temples dedicated to all heroes of the Ramayana on a single day, in a pilgrimage called ‘Nalambala Darsanam’.

It takes them through the Thriprayar Sree Rama Temple, Moozhikkulam Lakshmana Temple, Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam Temple and Payammal Shathrughna temple.

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