Kuthiyottam - A Tradition Associated With Bhagavathi Temples Of Kerala


Kuthiyottam is a ritualistic symbolic representation of human sacrifices, which was quite common in the old ages. It’s commonly practised in Bhadrakali (kali) temples of Kerala. It is one of the main offering at Kumbha Bharani festival of the famous Chettikulangara Bhagavathi Temple of Alappuzha district. Kuthiyottam associated with Attukal Ponkala in the Meenam month is also famous. The boys between 8 and 14 participate in Kuthiyottam, after practising Vritham for 41 days. The boys should not be handicapped.


Though Kuthiyottam is done as an offering to goddess Kali, it’s also a traditional art form. In the famous Chettikulangara Bharani festival, Kuttiyottam is the main offering given by devotees. Certain steps are to be practised for this performance and it’s done by homes who give this offering. The rituals start on great Shivrathri day with Ganapati pooja. On Revathy star day – Polivu (kanikka Arppikkal) is conducted where one–third part of shares are given by the house owner, and the rest two parts by Kuthiyottam Samidhi (Residence association) and Kuthiyottam artists.


Aswathy (next star following Revathy) is the rest day followed by most significant day Bharani, when ‘Chooral Muriyuka’ is conducted. On the skin on either side of stomach, thin threads of gold or silver are woven using needles. Earlier thin bamboo needles were used for this purpose. The instrument used for this purpose is called Kuruvi, which is used to pierce skin and weave wires into the skin. The wire is tied to one end of the belly and an arecanut placed at the tip of a knife is held over their head and they reach temple in big procession accompanied by decorated elephants and umbrellas.  


The songs of Kuthiyottam are derived from Hindu mythology stories. Most of them are in praise of goddess. Songs are recited by Aasan (guru) while Chuvadaasan teach dance steps to kids. Chuvadu – means dance steps. Practices are mostly conducted in the evenings. On Bharani day of celebrations at Chettikulangara Bhagavathi Temple, after the wounds are made in the morning, the whole kids are taken to the procession towards temple. Music of traditional instruments also accompany the group. Once they reach temple, they got engaged in dance steps and takes off the strings from the belly and offer it before the main deity bringing an end to the rituals.  

Article Posted By : Sandhya RanilView All Articles

Though I have passed through Chettikulangara temple several times, never got oppurtunity to visit the temple.

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Keywords :
Chettikulangara Bhagavathi Temple , Kuthiyottam , Chettikulangara Bharani


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