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Unique festival! Men dress up as women to celebrate this ritual in Kerala

  • The "Chamayavilaku" festival, where men dress as women, was held in Kollam, Kerala
  • On the 10th and 11th days of the Malayalam month of Meenam, Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple hosts this annual Hindu celebration
  • Thousands of men dress as women on this day and pray to the Goddess

29 Mar 2023
Unique festival! Men dress up as women to celebrate this ritual in Kerala

The "Chamayavilaku" festival, where men dress as women, was held in Kollam, Kerala, and was a unique visual experience. On the 10th and 11th days of the Malayalam month of Meenam, Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple hosts an annual Hindu celebration. The terms Chamayam (makeup) and Vilakku combine to form the word Chamayavilaku (lamp).

Thousands of men dress as women on this day and pray to the Goddess. The goddess Durga, often referred to as Vanadurga, is the temple's presiding deity. As they get ready for the festival, men fast and lead a strict lifestyle.

There are numerous makeup rooms in the temple area during the festival. If necessary, the temple also provides costumes. The Chamayavilaku is mostly consumed to accomplish goals and ask for atonement for sins. There is various mythology associated with the celebration, but the one about a band of cow herders is the one that is most frequently believed.
According to folklore, a group of cow herders discovered a coconut and a stone on the southwest corner of Bhoothakulam, a little deep pond. The elders were notified after they saw blood fall from the stone as it was struck against the coconut.

The astrologer advised Pujas to be performed right away after a temple was built because the Goddess was already dwelling there. The cow herders and elders built a temporary temple. Since only balikas were permitted to worship the goddess back then, the cow herders who first performed the Puja were traditionally clothed as women.

The festival, which draws visitors from all over, is also listed among Kerala Tourism's highlights.

 

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