Kalapathi Ratholsavam - Kalpathi Chariot Festival of Palakkad

It is not every day that we see beautifully decorated, giant chariots carrying deities, rolling through the streets. Such is the heart throbbing view when thousands of devotees carry their beloved deities in massive chariots with great enthusiasm and devotion, during the annual festival of Kalpathi Ratholsavam.

Kalpathi Ratholsavam Date 2020

It is the most attractive part of a ten days long festival celebrated annually in the month of November. The chariot is taken around in the last two days of the festival and that is called Kalpathi Rathklsavam. The date is 13 November 2020 to 15 November 2020, calculated as per the Malayalam calendar. 

Where to witness Kalpathi Ratholsavam?

This annual festival is celebrated in Kalpathy village of Palakkad district in the state of Kerala. The festival is celebrated at the Sri Visalakshi Sametha Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple which sits by the Nila River. 

Origin and History

The chariot festival has a history of around 700 years. The legend behind it unfolds as: 
  • A Brahmin widow named Lakshmiammal was fortunate enough to visit Kashi(now Varanasi), the spiritual centre for Hindus. 
  • She brought with herself a Lingum, an iconic representation of Lord Shiva. She placed the lingam on the banks of Nila river and handed some gold coins to the then king Palakkad to look after the lingam. 
  • The king built a beautiful temple for the lingam to be placed.
  • At present, Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati sit in this 700 years old temple and are brought out during the festival with their children, Ganapathi and Murugan. 
  • The village of Kalpathi is also known by the phrase- “kasiyil pakuthi kalpathy”, meaning “Kalpathi is half Kashi”. Many similarities can be observed between the two places. 
  • The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, standing by the river Ganges is equalled with the Sri Visalakshi Sametha Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple which stands by the Nila River.
  • The river itself is called Dakshin Bhagirathi. 

Highlights Kalpathi Ratholsavam

The Shrine at Kalapathi Ratholsavam (Source)
  • The car festival, which takes place in the last three days, journeys from the Vishwanath Swami temple to a small settlement inhabited by Brahmins and has been acknowledged as a World Heritage Site due to its peculiar and striking similar looking houses divided just by a wall. 
  • Three smaller temples in New Kalpathi, Old Kalpathi and Chathapuram also participate in the festival. These temples carry Lord Vishnu, Ganesha and Murugan on the chariots. 
  • The main and the lost stupendous chariots roll out from the Vishwanath Swami temple carrying the favourite deity of the people, Lord Shiva with Parvathi.
  • All of these chariots are drawn by devotees and meet at a point, that is, the Brahmin settlements. 
  • For the first 6-8 days, the main temple echoes with the chanting of hymns and are livened by particular Vedic rituals. And the last few days mark the extravagant chariots rolling. 
  • This festival banishes any kind of discrimination as devotees, no matter which caste they belong to, come and draw their deities’ chariots.  
So, here was all that you needed to know about this unique and sacred Chariot Festival.

This post was published by Ishika Wahane

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