Annanad Uthram Vilakku witnessed

I had promised to write about the Annanad temple festival that took place on Feb 23 at the Ayyappa temple in Annanad.
Veluppilly Ambalam, is "a shrine dedicated to Sri Dharma Shastha as ‘Balarupam’ which is unique of its kind – is a place of incredible divinity. The rarity of the idol in ‘Balarupam’ in Kerala attracts multitudes of pilgrims to the temple"
That weekend was a veritable learning experience. Lessons ranged from 'Para Nirakkal' to 'Patience and tolerance of elephants'.
The temple's morning poojas commence as usual, the special feature is the public's offering of grains (husked and unhusked rice, puffed rice & flattened rice), flowers, sesame, turmeric, coins, and jaggery to the diety. Besides these, the devotees contribute towards the fireworks that are an exciting feature of the festivities.
In brief the festival consists of special poojas, traditional music, glorification of the diety mounted on elephants, sample and main fireworks, and a socio-cultural stage play. The complete sequence lasts for well over 12 hours, beginning at 3.00 pm with the auspicious music of Nadaswarams, and ending with the 'Melam' at 4:30 am the next day. This is the sequence in detail:
3:00 Nadaswaram
3:30 Melam
6:30 Deeparadhana
7:00 Sample Vedikettu
8:00 tayambaka
9:30 Nritya natakam
12:30 Uthram Vilakkezhunnallippu - Nadaswaram
1:00 Panchavadyam
4:00 vedikettu
4:30 Melam
All Kerala temple festivals consist of these major features, many spread over several days.

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