The annual temple festival or Utsavam in Kerala temples are, as mentioned earlier, important events and generally lasts as long as ten days or even more at Chengannur Bhagavati temple it lasts even 28 days. The hoisting of the temple flag usually marks the beginning of the celebrations. The arattu or the ceremonial bathing of the deity marks the culmination. The real emphasis, however, during the festival is on rituals and purificatory rites to increase the Chaitanya or power of the deity. In fact, Utsavam consist of two classes of functions-the
Akathepaditharam or the ritual side and Purathepaditharam or the ceremonial side for amusement, which consists of elephant procession, music, dance, fireworks etc.
Temples and Politics
Temples have played an important part not only in the
religious life of Kerala but also in its political history. Writes K. V. Krishna Ayyar in I-is A Short History of Kerala: "There might be nothing unique in the Chera, kings
propitiating their tutelar deity, Kottavai, before they started on their warlike expeditions. Marthanda Varma, again, might not be doing anything peculiar when he got his
sword consecrated at the temple of Adikesava at Tiruvattur before he attacked the Dutch in
1741. But the0 worship offered by the Zamorin not only to his guardian deity but also to
the tutelary deity of the enemy was original, a new device in statecraft, seducing not
only the enemy's allies but also his deity."