Every year, in the month of meenam (April-March) on the Malyali Calendar, thousands of devotees gather in the Sree Kurumba Kavu Kodungalloor temple to sing and chant and cheer the Goddess Kali who resides within. Legend speaks of her victory in battle against Darikan that left her raging, until her soldiers gathered around her and sang to uplift her mood. Re-enacting that to this day, the devotees gather and sing the Theri Pattu in honour of the goddess, and to seek redemption for their sins. Wrapped in yards of vermillion cloth often stained red with blood.
What makes this festival particularly spectacular is a ritual called kaavu theendal. Hundreds of oracles, both male and female, throng the temple grounds for three days. Bedecked in jangling bells and smeared with holy ash they stumble through the compound chanting and striking at the temple walls, and themselves, with sticks and swords. The devotees too lash out at the rafters of the temple, tossing offerings in over the walls.
The festival is one of it’s kind, surging with energy that soars unabated for three days until the local king, seen as the temple keeper, gives blessings to the devotees lying prostate before him. It’s an otherworldly experience that can make you question your beliefs about spirituality and human society, and a great reason to travel!
To get to Thrissur you can fly directly into Kochi from most major airports in the country, or take a train. From there it’s a quick 3 hour drive or an additional 2 hour train journey.