Colours, fireworks, cultural performances all come together in a beautiful amalgamation during the Vallangi Vela Festival in Nemmara. The festival is hosted in honour of the deity Bhagavathy at the Nellikulangara Bhagawathy Temple, on the 20th day of Meenam (a Malayalam month) where magnificently decorated elephants are taken out in a procession. The pandal is also illuminated beautifully and can be viewed from miles away. It is one of the most colourful festivals celebrated on the shores of Kerala with great vigour and enthusiasm.
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What happens at Nemmara Pooram?
One of the most beautiful festivals held in the shores of Kerala, the Nenmara Vallanghy Vela is an annual festival celebrated in Nelliyampathy hills with great pomp and show in April. Marking the occasion of the birth of the presiding deity of the Nellikulangara Bhagavathy in the summer, the festival is known for its beautifully embellished elephants and their magnificent fireworks.
Famous for its grandeur and pomp, the Nenmara Vallanghy Vela is said to be celebrated as the birthday of the presiding deity that falls on the 20th of Meenam. The grand event begins as a friendly competition between the two towns or “desas”, as they are called. During this friendly competition both the towns work to outdo each other in their processions and rituals.
Interestingly, the festivals begin on the 1st of Meenam after which both the “desas” perform the same rituals in their respective temples. During this period, you can come across various forms of traditional folk art such as Kummati, Karivela etc.
Along with it, an Anna Pandal is erected by both the "desas" using bamboo and wood. This structure is electrified with small bulbs of various colours to enamour your heart with the beauty of not only the location but also the decoration.
Both the towns adorn and embellish their finest of elephants for the parade and the processions start with moving towards the main location, that is, the Nellikulangara Bhagavathy Temple for the Vela. While the procession is going on, you can hear the harmony of temple tunes with many the best artists of Kerala performing the “Panchavadyam” and “Pandi Melam” along with certain traditional rituals.
About Vallanghi Vela- History of the Festival
Celebrated for the birth of the goddess, the Nellikulangara Bhagavathy Temple has a fascinating history which has been found even in the scriptures of the temple.
The story goes around a man named Kodakara Nair who visited the Nelliyampathy hills from Nenmara. Tired after reaching the hills, he decided to rest under the shade of a tree. He placed his umbrella made of dry leaves beside him. That place, it is believed was the abode of the goddess who attached herself to the umbrella. While returning, Kodakara Nair did not realise that he was bringing the goddess to Nenmara. After reaching Nenmara, he placed his umbrella near the Kothakulam pond. Later, when he tried to retrieve it, the umbrella wouldn’t budge. Soon, the people realised that the umbrella had a divine power and wished to stay there.
A temple was built in place of the umbrella which is now called Shri Mulasthanam as many religious people suggested the Nellikulangara as a better place for the temple.
Another interesting story that goes around the temple related to one of the famous books named Silappatikaram. Goddess Bhagavathy is said to be the reincarnation of the female protagonist named Kannaki. Kannaki had unleashed her anger and burned the entire city of Madurai, due to the unlawful killing of her husband. On the way of returning to Kodungallur, she stayed in Nelliyampathy where she threw a gooseberry. This gooseberry landed in Vallanghy where the temple is erected.
Since then, the legend has been passed down with generations, and this festival is performed with great effort and excitement.
Nenmara Vallanghi Vela 2020 - Dates
April 3, 2020
The Nenmara Vallanghy Vela festival is celebrated on the 20th day of the Meenam according to the Malayalam calendar, which falls on either the 2nd or the 3rd of April.
The “Kodiyettam” or the start is celebrated on 1st Meenam with the celebration going on till 20 days of Meenam. The Vela festival is celebrated on the 20th day, which also falls right after the rice fields are harvested.
One of the most awaited parts of the celebration includes their structured fireworks called “kuttu” which lights up the whole sky on the day of the Nenmara Vallanghy Vela. Each year both the "desas" try to find new and different ways to make their fireworks more extravagant and unique.
It is this healthy competition between the towns that build up the spirit of this fun and exciting event.
Nellikulangara Bhagavathy Temple in Nenmara
The Nenmara Vallanghy Vela festival is celebrated on the paddy fields of the Nelliyampathy hills where the two towns of Nenmara and Vallanghy are located. In the valley, after the paddy harvest, the land becomes an ideal space for the celebration. The festival starts as a competition on the fields, after which both the “desas” converge with their processions towards the Nellikulangara Bhagavathy Temple in Nenmara of the Palakkad district, Kerala.
How to Reach the Venue?
You can go to the location by various means which include-
By Road: You can reach Palakkad and then take a taxi. Frequent buses are also available for Nenmara from Palakkad or Kodungallur.
By Air: If you want to take a flight, you can fly to the Kochi International Airport or the Coimbatore Airport in Tamil Nadu. From the Kochi International airport, you have a go-to Trichur from where you can take a taxi or bus to Nenmara. From Coimbatore Airport, you need to take a taxi or bus to Palakkad district or directly to Nenmara.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to the district is The Palakkad railway station or the Trichur railway station from where you need to take a taxi or a bus to Nenmara.
The extravagant colours of lights and fireworks, the beautiful folk art forms, and the magnificently decorated elephants are reason enough to make the Vela festival an unforgettable experience.