Monday, July 24, 2006

Valliyoorkavu Temple and Festival

Valliyoorkavu Temple

Valliyoorkavu temple and the Valliyoorkavu festival hold an important role in the history of the Wayanad. The temple is situated 3 kilometers away from Mananthavady, on the way to Koileri-Panamaram route. The temple is situated near the bank of the river Kabani. The vast green ground on either side of the main road nearby the temple and the Kabani river adds to the exotic beauty of the location, and is the perfect stage for the big festival of Wayanad.

The Valliyoorkavu starts on the 1st of ‘Meenam’ month and ends on 14th of Meenam month. This time spans around 14th March to 28th March according to the Gregorian calendar. The goddess of the temple is Bhagavathy.

In the older eras; slaves were exchanged by landlords during this festival, and the slave exchange was one of the main event of the festival, even though the slaves were given a very little freedom to celebrate the festival. Almost all of the slaves belonged to the different tribes in Wayanad and the near by locations.

When slavery saw its sunset and freedom became reality, the mode of the festival changed a lot. At present, Valliyoorkavu or ‘Kavu’ as people in Wayanad call the festival is the main yearly event of various tribes in Wayanad. To make the festival more colorful, Wayanad exhibition & trade fair is conducted along with the festival. When the consumerism changed the face of the festival, the importance of the role of tribal people in the festival started diminishing. Then also we can see a great lot difference in the way the tribes of Wayanad celebrate this festival when compared to others.

When I say there is a difference between the way tribes celebrates Valliyoorkavu from others, it is evident that this festival is not only for tribes. The festival is important event for almost all of the people in Wayanad, regardless of caste and religion. For tribal people, who mainly earn for thier life by working on farming or any other kind of labor, the festival is the end of the old-one year contract of labor and starting of a new contract. The termination of contract may happen with the same employer, or let us call, the landlord, or a new contract starts with a different land lord.

The way the renewal of contract happening is the part of the life of the tribes. The labors will be asking for the arrears in wages for the last one year from their landlord. They may ask for some advance amount from the landlord on behalf of a promise made, like ‘we will work for you for the next one year’. Some times they may not be willing to work with the same landlord, so they may avail their pending wages and get advance from some other landlords, which ends the current contract and starts the new one.

The difference between the older ages and the present is that, now the tribal people are able to bargain, get advance and they are free to choose the landlord, the work etc. In the older ages, the landlords decided the future of the slaves or ‘Adima’ and the deal happened between landlords. In a way, the old labour exchange is happening in a more complex way.

What ever the way the job is changed, there will be a good amount of money with the tribes in the form of the arrears and advantages. The tribal family celebrates the Valliyoorkavu festival with this money. They will go with their entire family to the festival, and may spend two or three days or more in the festival ground and they just sleep in the open festival ground, on mats made of grass.

One of the special food items sold in huge lot is the so called ‘Pori’ which we can consider as the basic form of the popcorn. The sad thing about this festival is that the tribe will spend what ever money the acquired in the last one year, and there will not be anything in their hands when they go back to their home or ‘kudi’ except the happiness and prosperity they celebrated during their festival days. Some social evils like huge amount of alcohol flow during the festival spoils the financial background of these tribes a lot. Instead of celebrating the festival with their family, at present a major amount of the money they saved in the last one year goes towards buying alcohol, where children and women are deprived from the real celebration.

After decades and centuries, the festival still holds it purpose in the same or some other way. The various religious rites and events happening along with the festival make it unique. The festival gives a good opportunity for the traditional arts of tribes, as well as Wayanad as a whole to be staged. Sadly, interests of people towards the different folklore arts diminished and common events like orchestra, mimmics parade, cinematic dance etc are getting staged at present


  1. Valliyoorkavu Festival starts on the 1st of `meenum' and ends by 14th of Meenum and not in Kumbhan. Please change

  2. Dear friend, thank you verymuch for pointing out the wrong month I mentioned about Valliyoorkavu festival. I am not much familiar with the Malayalam months, but I know that Valliyoorkavu starts around 14th of March and ends around 28th March. I compared the dates with one of the Malayalam Calendar available in web, but I did a mistake while doing so.

    I have corrected it in the publishing and may take some time to be updated in the blog. Thank you once again for commenting on the error

  3. very nice.give details about programs on the 14 fest days.
    I heared that,in valliyoorkavu,at the 14th day a rain will happen surely.comment on it.
    Thanj you

  4. Dear Yasar.M
    I have being to Valliyoorkavu on the 13th, 14th and 15th day many a times during my school days and even after that. But I never remember a case where it rained during these times. It is just a fake thing that some body wanted to promote.

    Regarding the programs in fest, it varies in different years, there is no strict agenda for the cultural programs conducted during the festival.

    --Deepu George V