Thursday, November 15, 2012


The festival of Payyanur has begun. For the next 15 days Payyanur will be under the siege of Aradana festival. All gramers will be on holiday to Payyanur to witness the event which will bring forth nostalgic memories. The entire gramam , roads and alleys alike will be lit with tube lights . The mood of gramers will rise high. Several famous drummers and nadaswaram maestros will camp at Payyanur throughout the festival. The village will echo with drum beats from morning to late night. The orchestra will start at a slow pace in the evening to give way to  nadaswaram by night fall, then to the echoing  thayambaka and finally  to panchavadyam, which will culminate in the sweet panchari and pandi melam.  There will be a cultural extravaganza after that. Several art forms will be staged which will continue unto early morning.
The festival is 15 days long. Not all days are important. 6th and 9th are very important. People from afar will visit the temple on those days. 3rd and 12th also are important.

            Vrichikam is the month of ayyapa devotees also. The whole village will resound with swamiye saranam ayyappa. The colour of the village will change to black. Hundreds of ayyappa devotees could be seen going to the temple early morning and by night fall. The temple pond will be crowded and the temple will resound with saranam call. The perfume of camphor will pervade everywhere.
            Panchavadyam is the main attraction of the festival . Earlier it was headed by the maestro Rama marar . Nowadays many famous artists add splendor to the orchestra. Veteran drummer Sankara marar has now turned into an ashtapadi expert. 
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            For the young people aradana is their beloved festival. In old times the temple during aradana served as a platform for young people to see and acquaint with others which may sometimes results in marriages. There is in fact a culminating point of aradana on the eastern nada were girls and boys stand face to face pretending to see the panchavadyam (which is in between) but actually concentrating their entire self  in the others eye. Such eye contacts will sometimes develop into a smile the next day , then to a small talk and finally an embrace or a kiss in a dark corner. Times have changed. As there is live telecast of the festival in the local channel, many ladies prefer to remain indoors so that they could see their beloved tele-serials and see aradana during commercial breaks.
            Like many other festivals aradana also has now been under the siege of  commercial interests. The whole eastern nada is occupied by vendors. Fashion shops with kids toys hanging down, amidst  balloons and toys flying up gives the look of a market place.  
            My memory of aradana is not in colour but in black and white. Aradana means the time for joy. But we children have a lot of work to do at home. We were permitted to go to the temple for selling nuts. Still we enjoyed the festival much. At that time there was no electric illumination. Aradana was performed in the light of two large branched wooden oil  torches with cotton soaked in coconut oil. After the ceremony these cotton torches will be left burning near the huge wall of the temple. We used to take those torches, still burning , in green sticks .  I remember those frosty nights when we returned from the temple with the cotton torches lighting the dark alleys on the shivering night. 

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