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Astanaga/ Nagayakshi Kalam Pattu

A ritual performed to bring properity to all human beings by appeasing the snake gods or Nagas, a representation of divinity, eternity, life and death, as well as time and timelessness.

Astanaga/ Nagayakshi Kalam Patu is an exotic and spectacular ritual performance. The ritual begins with Ganapati Puja in the evening followed by Koora vitanam (decorating the temporarily constructed ‘Temple’ with a red cloth ). After this, Kalam ezhuthu starts. Sarpa kalam is drawn with herbal powders like ,vaka podi, turmeric powder, rice powder etc to draw Astanagas and Nagayakshi Amma under a thatched hut (Pandal) and the pandal is decorated with lamps,nirapa, coconuts, betal leaf, arecanut etc.

The Astanagas are Anantha, Vasuki, Thakshaka, Karkodaka, Shankha, Gulika , Padma and Mahapadma. Once the drawing is completed, Kalam Puja and Muram Puja are performed. Kalam Puja is a special Puja offered to Nagayakshi Amma and Astanagas. Muram Puja is performed to appease Garuda Bhagavan. Several pujas are done for Nagaraja and Nagayakshi in the Temple.

Devi Nagayakshi is invited from the shrine to the Kalam with Thalappoli and Panchavadyam after which a puja called “Thiriuzhichil” which is also a kind of ritualistic dance performed around the Sarpa Kalam holding a torch (flambeau). The dancer (oracle) is a male ,who dances who dances to the rhythm of Pulluvan kudam (a kind of musical instrument). In the end,everyone present can offer archana and pradakshina to the Kalam and offer dakshina to the performer.By the next day,early morning, Kalam pattu starts. The Pulluvan and his team sing and play Pulluvan veena, Kudam and Kaimani (cymbal). The theme of the songs is the stories (Charitams) of Naga devatas. The initial lines of the songs is be of Ganesha, followed by other Gods. Then the Thala or beat changes along with the song. At a certain point, two Kanyas are called to the venue. They perform the dance by holding a cluster of arecanut flower. Later part is dedicated to Serpent gods and the Kanyas sitting in the Kalam. The Kanyas start entering into a trance like state and start dancing as if the Devatas drawn on the floor Once the ritualistic ululation is over and finally, kalam is erased.The dance performance is attributed to Nagaraja (Snake King) and Naga Yakshi (Snake Goddess).

The Oracles inform that the Naga Yakshini and Nagas accepted the ritual and are contended. They promised the protection and prosperity to CIF and all devotees.Then the Dakshina is offered to the team of artist who came and performed the ritual in a befitting manner.

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