Jabri Festival of Kappadans from Kasaragod happens once in a Jupiter Year

Jabri festival of Banthaje of Kasaragod has a lot of mysteries still to unfold. For many centuries, the Kappadan community holds many firm beliefs which have stood against the test of time, and still firm and going. The mystic Jabri Festival held once in every 12 years was conducted this year on May 2, 2017. It’s a festival related to cave entry conducted by a particular community in Malabar. Banthaje forest is situated in Belloor panchayat.

Marriage of Kappadans and death rituals held before the auspicious cave entry ceremony

Marriage of Kappadan, who enters Jabri cave, was conducted on March this year, prior to cave entry in the month of May. Jabri cave is located in Kerala-Karnataka border in the Banthaje forest area. As per tradition, before the entry to the cave, the marriage of the person who serves as the guide and his dead ceremonies are conducted. Then Kappadans take Vritha (fast) for 48 days. During this time, they keep themselves fully isolated from outer world.

They belong to scheduled caste belonging to Mogeru Community. The kappadans are traditionally chosen for this ceremony. Babu and Ananthan from Nettanigai were selected as Kappadans this time. Babu is already married, and Ananthan’s marriage was conducted prior to cave entry. He married Geeta from Karnataka on 12th March 2017. As per tradition, they can stay with family for three days after marriage. After 3 days, the dead rites of Kappadans were conducted. They take fast for next 48 days.

A hut is built at hill top near temple for them to stay, where they keep themselves isolated from outer world and family. They remove hairs and sleep bare on green leaves during this period. Food is given from temple. The food will be placed inside the hut, and this time both the persons should avoid eye contact.

Jabri cave is of divine nature, and believed to be formed itself (Swayambhoo), which is believed to be the Moolasthanam of Nettanige Mahothaabaara Mahalingeswara Temple. Cave entry was conducted on May 2 this year. The temple festival was commenced on March 12th this year.

Jabri Cave entry conducted on May 2 this year

Om May 2, Kappadans emerged out of their huts and led their team to Jabri Cave. The journey starts from temple premises. Kappadans wear new white dress carrying wooden torches in hand. They clear the forest for others to walk on and scaling a steep hill, they travel for 2 hours through forest to reach the mouth of the cave. Till they enter the cave, devotees and believers follow them. After that they wait for Kappadans outside the cave, till they conduct a few rituals inside the cave and return back.

The Kappadans return back, carrying soil from the inner side of the cave. This soil is believed to have divine powers. As per beliefs, ceremonies held inside the cave and whatever seen there should not be revealed to anyone. For the same reason, ceremonies held inside the cave and whatever seen still remain secret to outer world.

Image source: Mathrubhumi e-paper

You can read a few more articles related to rituals, offerings, customs and celebrations, mostly associated with temples across across Kerala. Click on the images in the gallery to read

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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