Why are men dressed like women in Chamayavilakku festival in Kerala?
Chamayavilakku festival, also known as Chamaya Pradarshanam festival, is a unique festival that takes place at Beemapally Mosque in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. During this festival, men dress up in women’s clothing and makeup to pose as female Hindu deities like Kali and Durga.
“The Devi Temple in Kottamkulakara in Kollam district in Kerala has a tradition called the Chamayavilakku festival. This festival is celebrated by men who are dressed as women. The above picture is that of the man who won the first prize for the make up In the contest,” Rupanagudi wrote.
Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku festival
According to the Kerala tourism website, the Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku festival, also known as the carnival of lights, takes place on the 10th and 11th of the Malayalam month of Meenam, which falls in the second half of March.
During the festival, processions take place where men dress up as women, wear sarees, jewelry, and makeup while holding lamps in their hands.
This unique ritual involves men from across the state taking part to show their devotion to the presiding deity.
The men hold the Chamayavilakku divine lamp and walk around the temple to fulfill their wishes. This festival is an important event for the community and a symbol of devotion and religious unity.
According to the Kerala Tourism website, this festival is an opportunity for visitors to experience this unique cultural tradition first hand.
The Story Behind It
The festival’s origin is rooted in mythological folklore that tells two distinct stories. In the first story, a group of boys playing in a forest stumbled upon a coconut and attempted to break it, only to find it oozing blood.
After consulting a learned priest, it was revealed that the coconut was a goddess. The priest suggested that the boys build a temple and worship the goddess, which was traditionally only allowed by women.
In order to pay homage, the boys dressed up as women and began to worship the goddess, giving rise to the festival.
The second tale tells of a group of cowherds who dressed up as women and presented flowers to a stone.
They felt a divine energy emanating from the rock and named it Kottan, building a temple around it. This festival has since been celebrated by men dressed as women in honor of the goddess.
Where is it celebrated?
This festival is celebrated at the Kottanjulangara Sree Devi temple near Kollam in Kerala. This is the temple of Goddess Bhagavathy to whom prayers are offered. The deity in the temple is known to be ‘Swayambhoo’. This means that the deity originates from itself.
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