Kodungalloor, situated 50 kilometres north of Kochi, has a special historical tag attached to it. It was an ancient port town called Crangannore or Muziris. Now The town is famous for its ancient Bhagavathi temple.
The Bharani festival which falls on the month of Meenam (March/ April) is the most important event of the temple. The festival commemorates the victory of the goddess over the demon Darika. A large congregation of Velichappadus (meaning ‘revealers of light’ in Malayalam) arrives in the temple as part of the festival.
The huge idol of Bhadrakaali, with eight hands, each holding weapons like swords and wheels evokes reverential fear in the minds of the devotees. The Velichappadus or oracles dressed in red costume and with streaming hair, smear their body with turmeric powder, wear huge waist belts studded with bells and hold aloft sacred swords of different sizes and shapes.
Once in a trance, these oracles perform a frenzied dance, repeatedly slashing their foreheads with curved swords. As a supreme symbol of their devotion they make a sacrificial offering of their own blood to the deity. A grand procession (Ezhunnallathu) with nine majestic tuskers is held in the evenings followed by a series of cultural programmes staged in the temple premises.