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Aswathy Ulsavam at Chettikulangara Devi Temple

Aswathy Ulsavam is a grand festival celebrated at Chettikulangara Devi Temple in Mavelikkara taluk of Alappuzha district in Kerala.

The unique rituals during the Aswathy festival celebrate the grand love and devotion of devotees towards Bhagavathy. Held in the Aswathy day in the Meenam month, this festival is attracting a large number of visitors. This festival is imagined as a send off to the deity on her journey to visit her mother at Kodungallur. In the evening, 100 odd decorated chariots ( Kuthiras & Rathams) and different effigies are brought to the temple mainly made by the children.

Though the size of these chariots are comparatively smaller than the Theru & Kuthiras made for Bharani festival, the number of chariots in union provide a visual impact even challenging the aesthetic effect of Bharani.

During the day, Bhagavathy visits the four karas surrounding the temple for Parayeduppu and official Anpolis are given by Kara leaders at Kuthirachevudu, the place where Kuthiras are made. After that she visits and blesses the offerings displayed at the temple premises.

By dawn, she decides to leave, and seeks their permission to leave for Kodungallur. The people of the first four karas make Polavilakku ( a large structure drawn on wheels decorated with tender banana stem and lighted with numerous traditional lamps) during her farewell procession. They offer her a grand farewell procession with Aappindi [a unique slow paced dance carrying a pyramid shape box on head). Aappindi will be embellished with crackers, pookkula ( cluster of coconut flowers – inflorescence ), and will be covered with tender banana stems.] and Thalapppoli (traditional sacred lamps carried by ladies).

People from Kaitha North and Kaitha South participate in the function with Thiruvantham. It is said that Thiruvantham, a palanquin type structure with fireballs and carried by four people, is the light of Darika, which incenses the Bhagavathy. She scares them away. After the procession, she again visits the Upaprathishtas and asks the people and other gods to let her visit her mother at Kodungallur.

By dawn, she proceeds with lightning sped towards west. Normally, within the 100 meters, the Poojaris carrying the Jeevatha will fall down unconsciously, and the Jeevatha will be taken back to the temple.

The temple will remain closed for the day, and will be opened only the day after. The Aswathy festival concludes the five month long festivities at this temple.

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