I was watching the movie “the forbidden kingdom” and was thinking about the ancient civilizations and people. Soon I remember about the Para celebrations and the pooja held during the weekends. Para is celebrated in Kerala from January until December according to temples in a locality.
Thangu was the in-charge of catering that had to supply food to the guests who came to witness Para. In other words, he made himself the in-charge of the catering. Thangu is my Aunts younger child who is more mischievous that he appears to be.
Para celebrations started in kerala and soon were practiced among north Indian malayalees. I remember the para celebrations we have at Nagpur where Lord Aiyappas photo is accompanied by a group of priests who come to my home riding the back of a truck. Lord Aiyappa is seen riding a tiger and North Indian malayalees after technological advancement made him travel on trucks.
My mother makes all the arrangements required for the pooja that is done during para celebrations. The priest lits the lamp and advice us to take three hand-full of rice(nellu) and put into a container called “para”. We give a “dakshina”(an offering made to priests for their blessings) to the priest and he starts his journey to the other houses.
I witnessed the first para in Kerala where devi(goddess) is brought to the house on the shoulders of the priests( it is called as jeevadha). If you notice the priests, you will see their shoulders look like high-level swelling. While devi travels the way to your home the priests dance with her on their shoulders and hands free, pointed towards the ground. Their dance and balance resembles to the Royal circus, but divine and far from human understanding.
A kalam(drawing made for poojas) is drawn on the ground coated with cow dung. Cow is treated as a sacred animal and so are its body extracts. The jeevadha is placed with full respect on the ground and the priest starts the pooja process. Later the same procedure with rice is repeated and all the guests along with priest move to have their breakfast.
Theory behind para celebrations:
I was wondering why people celebrate para and had questions and debates with many people. I was convinced by the answers from two people Jk and ammuma(grandmother).
According to Jk: “ After the harvesting season is over, people believe that god will visit them to bless them for their hard work and receive a portion of their crop from them”.The facts are unknown; they change from each locality to people and their belief to their understanding. Celebrations are meant to spread happiness and enjoyment.
Grandmother says: “ Para was followed from ancient times and was introduced by temple authorities to gather wealth for the temple”.
If you have any other views , why a para is celebrated… please post them as comments.