Hymns, herbs & hope
TNIE lensmen A Sanesh and Vincent Pulickal capture the glimpses of holistic wellness practices followed during the month of Karkidakam
KOCHI: Karkidakam, the last month of the traditional Malayalam calendar, is a time that calls for a rejuvenation of both the mind and the body. This association has likely to do more with the monsoon than any ominous reason. The heavy rain experienced during this period impacts both health and agriculture. Perhaps this is why the season is also called ‘Panja Masam’ (lean season).
It is to counter the physical and mental challenges wrought on by it that many in Kerala engage in traditional health practices. Of them, Panchakarma Ayurveda treatment is considered a must by many.
Karkidakam is also a time to abstain from meat and fish dishes. Instead, the intake of Karkidaka Kanji is
encouraged. A gruel made with ‘njavara’ rice and 24 medicinal herbs, this healing dish has been part of the traditional monsoon diet for centuries.
For devout Hindus, Karkidakam is also a time of spiritual cleansing. Special rituals and ceremonies are held at temples to appease deities and to pray for prosperity and well-being. The holistic hymns of Ramayana, especially the Sundara Kanda, the fifth episode in the holy book, reverberate from most homes as it is considered to also heal the soul. Thus, Karkidakam is also known as ‘Ramayana Masam’.
Karkidakam is also a time when more emphasis is given to spiritual observance. The Nalambala Darsanam, or the annual pilgrimage to four-well known temples in a single day, is observed
during the Karkidakam season.
In North Kerala, Karkidakam is a time for the visit of Aadivedan, a form of theyyam performed by children. The visit of Aadivedan to households is believed to eliminate the miseries of Karkkidakam and welcome a prosperous Chingam, the Malayalam New Year.