Rama Navami on

MOST PEOPLE who live in Mattancherry have heard of Madapalli Madhom and its Rama Navami celebrations. Located at Palace road, near Anavathil, the Madhom has been conducting the Rama Navami festival for 80 years now.

Sampradaya Bhajans have been held for over a century here on Saturdays, Ekadasi day and throughout the Tamil month of Margazhi.

There are many tales attached to this place and its importance in the locality. It is said that the place was given by the Raja of Cochin to his cook as a residence and was once a traditional Nalukettu house.

It was later converted into a trust and the Madapally Madhom Samooham here has scrupulously celebrated the Rama Navami festival with great fervour.

There are about ten houses in this Madham and all join in the activity of keeping the tradition of Bhajans and kirtana alive. These bhajans give us a great sense of calm, says Y.Raman.

Come Rama Navami and inhabitants of this colony are busy collecting donations, visiting people and firms, writing letters, sending out appeals and planning the year's celebrations. A number of well-known classical musicians and other artistes have performed here during Rama Navami .

N. K. Iyengar, a retired executive of Brooke Bond, and one `who has been serving Shri Ramachandra for the last six decades' gives a list of names of those bhagavathar who have been closely associated with the functions hereToday the legacy of keeping the Bhajans alive is being continued by Mr.

N.K.Iyengar along with T.E.Muthuswamy, R.Anantha Narayana Iyer, Neelamani, Remani, Y.Raman, and E.V.Hariharan.

This year's Rama Navami festival began on April 2 and goes on till April 12 when Anjaneya Utsavam is celebrated. The festival begins with a procession in which the portrait of Shree Rama is taken from Madapalli Madhom to Thekkemadhom and back. There are bhajans and vocal and instrumental recitals every evening, including a special performance by .J.S.Eswara Prasad. There are discourses and special poojas, and prayers are offered to Shri Rama on all days.

Unchivrithi is another traditional function which involves a bhagavathar `attired like saint Thyagaraja, followed by other bhagvathars' who visit the Brahmin colonies nearby and collect rice and other pulses, all the time singing bhanjans. This is given as prasadam on the last day.

Women from nearby colonies also bring food from their homes to offer to Shree Rama and then take it back as prasadam. There is also beeja dhanam offered to Shri Rama. These customs are followed in very few parts of the State, but the people here are determined to celebrate it this way and are already teaching the next generation how to do it the traditional way.