Kaliyoot Festival

The chief festival in the temple is the festival of kaliyoot, which falls on the Malayalam month of kumbham (March). Kali, the Mother of goddess is the deity of farmers. It is evident from the inclusion of the fictitious interpretations of agricultural art traditions in the rituals of the art form of Kaliyoot. Kaliyoot is the dramatic presentation of the genesis of Bhadrakali and Darika the representatives of good and evil respectively, their confrontation and later the extermination of Darika in devotional terms and with rhythmic footsteps. Kaliyoot is a synthesis of older agrarian art tradition is a further established by the fact that the time chosen for performing Kaliyoot after Makara Koithu (the Malayalam month of Makaram corresponds to March and in the season of the second harvest season in Kerala. Koithu is a Malayalam term for harvest ) and that Kali appears under the guise of a pulaya (the pulaya caste is the traditional agricultural labouring community in Kerala.) girl in the Kali drama. The object of Kaliyoot festival is to offer the elementary harvest to the Amma (the divine Mother), the defender of the land.The ritual art of Kaliyoot was originally celebrated in North Malabar to propitiate Goddess Kali was brought to Travancore and that too to the Sarkara Temple by King Marthanda Varma (1729-1758). There is a historical legend connected with it.For expanding the domain of this kingdom, Marthanda Varma Maharaja tried to capture kayamkulam province several times.(A.P. Ibrahim Kunju, Rise of Travancore, A study of the Life and Times of Marthanda Varma . All his efforts were in vain and he felt disappointed. But he did not give away his ambition. His one and only motive was the defeat Kayamkulam Raja. With the unyielding desire he was forced to make another arrangement for a war. On his way to Kayamkulam it is said that he chose the big ground near the Sarkara temple to take rest. Kaliyoot Festival Learning the arrival of Maharaja in their mace, that leaders of the place or Karakkar and Kalarigurukkars (The grand teachers of military techniques at the Kalari.) assembled together to have a glimpse of the Maharaja. Hearing the Raja's stories of defeat at Kayamkulam, they suggested that the only way to his triumph was to offer a Kaliyoot to Sarkaradevi. In conformity with their suggestion the Maharaja decided to offer Kaliyoot to Sarkaradevi and finally became successful in the war. Kaliyoot festival is usually celebrated in the month of February/March.It is a 9 day long festival with rituals and traditional ceremonies conducted in the temple premises. The first 7 days ceremonies are dramatic visualisations of stories leading to the war between Bhadrakali and Darika. The ceremonies takes its peak with the 8th and 9th day ceremonies,"Mudi uzhichil" and "Nilathil poru" respectively. On the 8th day of ceremonies, Bhadrakali herself goes out in search of Darika, but returns at the end of the day without finding the deamon king.This function is one of the most important ritual associated with the festival as on this day the deity offers blessings to the devotees directly. The famous "Nilathil poru"(ground fight) takes place at the 9th and last day of ceremonies which visualises the killing of deamon king Darika by Bhadrakali and thus spreading the prevalence of truth over the evil. The 8th and 9th day functions in the Kali drama festival are a visual treat and the colorful ceremonies takes hours for completion.The men from the ponnara family are assigned with the kali,durga and darika costumes. It is believed that there is a basic text titled Kaliyoot Mahotmyam (It is said that the text composed by Kannassa Panicker.) authored by Kannasa Panicker ceremonies connected with Kaliyoot as a devotional offering.After the construction of the stage for the chief performance the pernu and the invoking of the spirit of the Goddess into lamps, the chief rites of the first days begin.