It’s festival time: at the Valliyoorkavu temple on the outskirts of Mananthavady in Wayanad in Kerala. And I have Suresh Babu, a former BSF employee, to thank for alerting me to it.
I happened to be around on the last day of the 14-day annual festival attended by tribal folk from surrounding areas.
It would a long night of prayers, folk dances, processions, food, shopping, circus and fairground rides.
During the day, things are a bit quiet at the temples but the roads leading to it are marked with processions from all directions - converging at the temple from early evening onwards.
Processions comprise musicians, dancers including a few in masks, elephants, priests and devotees walking along, some with lit oil lamps. Quite an energetic crowd they make, walking and dancing and beating drums for hours. They slowed traffic down, but cops were doing a good job of keeping everyone moving.
Your future seems to be at stake on the path leading to the temple: it is lined with astrologers who claim to know where your life is headed by reading the lines on your palms or calling upon their parrots. They all beckoned me, but didn’t they foresee we cannot talk due to language barriers?
There was also food, lots of it. And shopping from trinkets to household goods. And a fair for those wishing to pursue higher studies.
A circus and a fair made for entertainment for all, atheists included. You can daredevilry with cars and bikes defying gravity in a well of death, merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, antics by dogs and donkeys and more.
God, communism, capitalism, entertainment, merry making - it all happens in Kerala at the same time.
The last day of the festival is the liveliest, and I stayed till as long as I could before heading out - I had two hours of driving in the dark to my next destination.