Temples and traditional houses across Kerala reverberated with the chanting of verses from the epic, as the annual ‘Ramayana Month’ began in the state today.With the commencement of ‘Karkitakam,’ the last month in the Malayalam calendar today, elders chant verses from ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ authored by medieval devotional poet Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, during the next 30 days in front of lighted lamps. Temples and cultural organisations across the state have also arranged for a recital of Ramayana and special poojas during the season. ‘Karkitakam,’ is the lean season ahead of ‘Chingam’ that ushers in Malayalis’ most colourful festival of ‘Onam.’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.Branded Karkidaka kanji mix is also available in the market.
Also during Ramayana Month, Hindus undertake pilgrimage to the four temples of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna, located in the Kottayam and Thrissur districts. This ritual is known as ‘Nalambalam Darshanam.”Aanayootu,’ a mass feast for elephants, prepared as per ayurvedic tradition, was held at the famed Vadakkumnathan Temple at Thrissur. Freshly bathed elephants sporting sandal paste and vermillion on their foreheads, lined up at the southern tower of the temple and were fed a special feed made of sugarcane, rice, ghee, coconut, jaggery and Ayurvedic medicines. This is also the period when elephants in the state, especially those belonging to Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple undergo ‘sukha chikilsa’ (ayurvedic revitalisation treatment) of body wraps, special diets and herbal tonics.