'Ramayana Month' begins in Kerala, 'Aanayootu' for jumbos held

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Thiruvananthapuram, July 17 (PTI): Keeping up an age-old tradition, the annual observance of 'Ramayana Month' began in Kerala on Saturday with people chanting verses from the epic at temples and houses of Hindus.

'Karkkidakam,' the last month in the Malayalam almanac, is observed as the Ramayan Month.

The last month is considered as the lean season ahead of 'Chingam' that ushers in Malayalees' most colourful festival of 'Onam'.

As per the tradition, the elders chant verses from 'Adhyatma Ramayana' in front of lit lamps in their houses for the next 30 days.

The verses were penned by medieval devotional poet Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan.

Temples and cultural organisations too make arrangements for the recital of Ramayana during the season, but this year they didn't due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Savouring the 'Karkidaka Kanji,' a spicy mix of rice and medicinal herbs is another traditional practice of the people.

During the period, Hindus undertake pilgrimage, known as 'Nalambalam Darshanam' to the four temples of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna in Kottayam and Thrissur districts.

'Aanayootu,' a mass feast for elephants prepared as per ayurvedic tradition followed during Karkkidakam,was held atthe Vadakkumnathan Temple in Thrissur today.

Fifteen elephants participated this time as against 70 due to the pandemic protocol, sources in the temple said.

Only 50 people, including mahouts, were permitted into the temple precincts during the 'anayootu' because of the pandemic, they said.

Freshly bathed elephants, sporting sandal paste and vermillion, lined up before the southern tower of the temple and were fed sugarcane, rice, ghee, coconut, jaggery and ayurvedic medicines, they added. PTI LGK NVG NVG

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