Kottankulangara Devi Temple
India is full of crazy culture and bizarre rituals. Everything here seems to fascinate the nonresidents of the nation. From colorful festivals to irritating superstitions, India is a land of diversity. Here, where we have temples like Sabramati where women are not allowed to enter or we have Dargah’s where females are asked to pray from outside, rarely we come across a sight where we witness the opposite. Yes, today we are going to tell you about a temple where men are not allowed to enter as a man. Confused? If yes, read till the end and know about the astonishing Kottankulangara Devi Temple.
Bizarre facts of Kottankulangara Devi Temple:
The Kottankulangara Devi Temple is a temple of goddess Durga Bhagavathy or Aadi Shakthi which is located in the village of Chavara, Kerala. The legend behind this temple says that few cow herders found a stone in the area, when they tried to hit it in order to clear the obstacle, they noticed blood drops. On explaining the phenomenon to the elders many believed that the stone might hold some supernatural powers and a temple should be built on the spot. Following the advice, the cow herders constructed a temple using coconut leaves and poles. It was a custom during those days that girls used to prepare flower garlands, lit the lamps in ancient Kudumba temples. Accepting this custom, the cow-herders too wore female attires and offered Pooja in the temple. And since then this custom became a tradition. The architecture of the temple too is very unique as the sanctum has no roof over it. And it holds the deity who is Swamboo which means self-origin.
Kottankulangara on 10th and 11th of the Malayalam month of Meenam, second half of March is lit with hues of festive vibe to a fantasy world known as Chamayavilakku. The Konttankulangara Devi temple is adorned by beautiful ladies holding lamps and offering prayers. But the twist came in the form of face, if you look closer to their faces you will be surprised to know that those beautiful ladies are not ladies but actually men! Throughout the state of Kerala, men doll up as women and wear glittery sarees, trinkets, flowery garlands and does make up to participate in this unique ritual. One fascinating fact about this festival is that men from different caste, creed and age dress up as a women and hold a traditional lamp known as Chamayavilakku as a sigh of symbol of their devotion for the deity. It is believed that the wishes are often fulfilled if prayed on this festival. Chamayavilakku starts after sunset and continues till dawn on the last two days of this 19 days long festival. Huge caparisoned tusker that carries the Thidambu can be seen throughout the night. This festival also welcomes the transgender community as they get a chance to openly identify their gender and celebrate their identity. During this days long festival one can also enjoy classical concerts, percussion, illuminations and a range or colourful umbrellas that floats through the river. Skies are lit with sparkling fireworks and an ambience that will remain in your heart even after the festival is long ended. Do you know about Kuruthola Panthal? It is a structure made of coconut leaves combined with plantain and arecanut is where the deity resides during Chamayavilakku.
Apart from Chamayavilakku, Konttankulangara temple is a serene place to visit. Though men usually don’t visit the temple unless of Chamayavilakku, it is firmly believed that men who like to visit the temple during normal days too are asked to wear female clothing. The temple is must visit because of the experience it gives, the lush green trees around and the architecture of the place will dwell deep inside your heart long after the vacation is over!