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Holi, Kerala style

By Our Staff Reporter

THRISSUR, MARCH 6. Holi celebrations, in Kerala style, began at a few temples here on Saturday. The festival, which falls on the day after the full moon in early March, is being celebrated by the Kudumbi community at 20 temples in the State over four days.

According to P.S. Ramachandran, board member, Kudumbi Seva Sanghom, the temples include the Annapoorneswari Temple, Edathirinji, Bhadrakali temple, Kakkathuruthy, Perumpadana Devi temple, North Paravur, Karthika Kavu temple, Poyya, Narayanamangalam temple, Kodungallur and Bhuvaneswari temple, Vallivattom.

Persecuted by the Portugese in Goa, a section of the Kudumbis had migrated to Kerala. In 1864, the Portugese rulers had enacted an ordinance outlawing the use of the Kudumbi language in Goa Many Kudumbis then fled Goa. Those who reached Kerala were welcomed by the ruler of Cochin. Some of them were employed as ministers and generals, Mr. Ramachandran says.

The Kudumbi Seva Sanghom has 5.5 lakh members in the State, its former general secretary, P.R. Murali, says. ``Unlike the garish Holi celebrations in north India, those in Kerala are solemn and centred on temple rites. The rites vary between temples. In some of the Kudumbi temples in Ernakulam, an arecanut tree is felled and carried to the shrine, symbolising Durga's victory over the demons.

In some Thrissur temples, a figure of a crocodile is modelled out of mud. According to belief, the Goddess, in the form of a crocodile, had helped the Kudumbis when they faced troubles while migrating to Kerala," Ramachandran says.

On the second day of the celebrations, the Kudumbis get themselves sprayed with coloured water (containing turmeric) and dance to traditional Kerala percussion. The ceremony is called 'Manjakkuli'. Special Holi poojas will be held at the Edathirinji temple on March 7 and 8. The 'Manjakkuli' will be held on March 9, Mr. Ramachandran says.

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