Karkidakom month has begun, and these 30 days are quite auspicious for Keralities. Apart from being the holy month for Hindus, it’s a season of rejuvenation for human beings as well as animals. When most people choose Ayurveda methods, elephants too are also given special treatment during this period. It includes special food and medicines to keep them fit for the next one year. Likely it’s a rest month for elephants as well. Karkidakom month is not associated with any religious celebrations, and for the same reason elephants get complete rest during this period.
Anayoot at Puranattukara Vishnu Temple
Anayoot is conducted at temples
Anayoot literally means ‘Feeding elephants’, and it is annually conducted in the month of Karkidakom across all temples of Kerala. Apart from medicines, elephants are fed with cooked rice, jaggery, coconut, banana, cucumber etc, and people also get opportunity to feed these animals. Cooked rice is fed to elephants’ in mouth by elephant worshipers. Anayoot is liked by kids a lot, as they get opportunity to see elephants close and feed them as well. At such occasions, kids often touch elephants’ body parts and feed them with great interest.
Gaja Pooja is also conducted
During this auspicious occasion, special poojas for elephants are also conducted in temples. It’s also believed that such poojas are conducted to please Lord Ganesha to fulfill one’s wishes. Elephant is often seen as symbolization of Lord Ganesha. Ganapati pooja is also conducted along with Gaja Pooja in most of the temples, and the prasadam with a mixture of coconut, jaggery, sesame seeds and raisins fried in ghee is also given to elephants. It is also provided to devotees as prasadam.
Vadakkumnatha temple famous for Anayoot
Thrissur is famous for elephant festivals. Obviously Vadakkumnatha Siva temple in the heart of Thrissur town is the centre of attraction during the season. Vadakkumnatha temple known for ‘Thrissur Pooram’ gives great importance to Anayoot Festival also.
It’s a great feast to eyes to see Thekkumkatt Maidan filled with elephants for the auspicious occasion of Anayoot. Thrissur known for its fondness to elephants, people get opportunity to see them near, take selfie and also feed them their favourite items. Very often Karkidakom plays mischief with people by soaking them in monsoon rains. Yet it’s the fondness to elephants, people gather in maidan. More than 50 elephants take part in the eve every year, and without any make up or decoration they exhibit their ‘natural’ beauty.
A few more rituals are conducted as a part of Anayoot. Mahaganapati Homan using more or less 12,000 coconuts is the integral part of Anayoott festival. It’s indeed a grand event, which may need around 1500 kilos of jaggery, 1500 kilos of aval and 500 kilos of malar. Gajaraja pooja is conducted using patt (silk), vella and karumbada (sugarcane). ‘Prathyaksha Ganapathi’ pooja is also conducted. Gaja Pooja is conducted once in every four years in a separate panthal.
Later rice balls with ayurvedic medicine, sugarcane and different fruits are given to elephants. Prasada Oott is a feast given to devotees. You can see long queue of people from morning to evening, and every year more than 10,000 people participate in the event. Special Melam is also conducted every year in the evening of Anayoott.
Anayoot festival in my nearby temple
Today I watched anayoot festival from my nearby Vishnu temple. It’s for the first time I watched this celebration so close. Three elephants formed a part of celebration, and I could see people belonging to all age groups interested in feeding elephants. I also received Prasad, consisting of Unniyappam, Prasad after Ganapathi Pooja and Ila Ada.