Monday, July 13, 2009

Karkidaka Masam – Karkidakam Month in Kerala

Karkidaka Masam, or Karkidakam Month, is the last month in the traditional

Malayalam calendar followed in Kerala. The month is also known as the

Ramayana Masam – the epic Ramayan is read in the month in homes and

temples. The monsoon rains are at its peak in Karkitakam month. In 2009,

Karkidaka Masam begins on July 17 and ends on August 16.

Karkidaka Vavu Bali a ritual dedicated to the dead ancestors and relatives is

performed on the Amavasi or no moon day in the Karkidaka Masam. Thousands

of people visit the sea shores and riverbanks to perform the ritual.

Two decades ago, Karkidaka Masam used to be one of the difficult months due

to heavy rains and floods. Majority of the people depended on agriculture and

this month used to be the month of scarcity. With the farm fields flooded, there

used to be no work and the economy used to come to a stand still. In some places,

due to the rains, it was even hard to venture outside the house. To ward off nature’s

fury people used to read the Ramayana in the month.

But things have changed and the there are no heavy rains and agriculture in

Kerala. But still people follow certain rituals in Karkidakam month.

New ventures and auspicious functions are not held during the month by Hindus.

Another highlight of Karkidakam month is the specific ayurvedic treatments followed

by people. Some people drink Karkidaka Kanji, a gruel mixed with herbs and

medicines, in the month.

There are people who also conduct Bhagavathi seva in their homes during this month to ward of evil. The Lalitha sahasranamam will be chanted to invoke the devi and the archanas will be offered. In temples there are sahasranama archanas everyday in the evening for the entire period of Karkada.

In our home, this was a celebration with the main lamp for the devi being polished and cleaned before the puja. Appa (my father) made the prasadams (payasam and vadai) himself. After the puja the entire family sat together and had the palaharam (tiffin) which would be mainly idli and chutney followed by vada and nai payasam!! Now most of us are scattered in different parts of the world and such a gathering has to take place only with some kind of divine intervention.

During this month in olden days, the newly wedded bride was generally sent to her home. The couples had to stay away from eachother. In those times, there was no much means of communication like today we chat and make calls so fast. So the couples used to write letters to eachother giving the postal departments their share of profits!! Nowadays these sentiments and values are missing in our life because we have got mechanical with our jobs and expect to interact with people only through chats and emails.


  1. Such a nice post Janaki. Thats a lot of tradition involved in one month and one celebration.

    I love when people still keep their rituals alive... and try to pass it on to the younger generation.

    So true.. that as a family... we now need to plan & organise a get together..

    PS - I like 'payasam'..

  2. thanks patricia to be so upto date and post your comments on the blog.

  3. Useful post...
    Today, on Karutha Vaavu of Karkidaka masam, we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us....

  4. Thank you for the beautiful picture and for the details

  5. thanks a lot for the great information

  6. Thanks Janaki ! Wanted to know about karkada masam and saw your post.