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Konganpada temple festival starts today

Staff Reporter

CHITTUR (PALAKKAD): The annual Konganpada festival at Chittur Bhagavathy Temple, the only war memorial festival in the State, will begin on Monday. The festival is conducted to commemorate the victory of the Nairs of Chittur over the militia of nearby Konganadu King Rajadhi Raja of Coimbatore during 918 A.D.

It is celebrated on the first Monday in Kumbam (Malayalam calendar). The myth among the people of Chittur is that Goddess Bhagavathy saved them from the Chola King.

However, historians say that the King of Kongu attacked Palakkad. The King of Cochin (Chittur was under the Cochin rulers) with the help of the Zamorin defeated them.

The festival begins with ‘Chilambu,' which recalls Konganpada's declaration of war when people flock to Goddess Bhagavathy with fervent prayers to save them. It is followed by flag-hoisting, indicating their readiness to wage war. After dusk, the people assemble at the temple and after three pop gunshots they march to a place that is believed to be the battlefield. An oracle leads the procession. At midnight, the procession returns from the battlefield. The next morning, a colourful procession sets off from the temple ‘kavu' where girls dress up as men (kolam) in the belief that Goddess Bhagavathy encountered the Konganpada in a man's clothes.

Cultural programmes are staged in the evening. After the procession, a messenger from Kanganpada reads out the message declaring war. After 10 p.m., Kongan appears and the symbolic war begins. Rival groups run horses to create a battlefield-like situation. After the army of Kongan returns, a few persons feign death and their bodies are taken to their grieving relatives.

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