Reciting the divine story of Lord Ramchandra, the Ramayana month observance began in Kerala on July 17. This year, Karkidakam spans from July 17 to August 16.
Ramayana is one of the greatest Hindu epics that hold great religious significance. During the Ramayana Masam, the recitation of Ramayana starts from the first day of the Karkidakam Masam and continues till the last day.
Karkidakam is considered a lean month and is therefore not considered for any auspicious ceremonies like marriage, house warming, or the start of new projects, etc. However, the month is ideal for treatments, pilgrimage and worship.
The famous Malayalam Version of the Ramayana titled Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu, written by Thunchath Ezhuthachan, is the one recited in the month. After lighting the lamp, people sit before nilavilakku (traditional Kerala lamp) and recite the Adhyatma Ramayanam. The reading of the epic is managed in such a way that the reading ends on the last day in the Karkidakam Month.
Karkidakam month is dedicated to chanting Ramayana, prayers, and worship of Lord Rama. The month is considered inauspicious for deeds other than the worship of God.
The Hindus in the state owe a great debt of gratitude to a Sangh Pracharak who resurrected the tradition of reading Ramayana during Karkkidakam month. RSS Pracharak, the late P. Parameswaran, affectionately called Parameswarji, popularised the Ramayana among the ordinary Hindu families in Kerala. Ramayana Masacharanam, or observing Ramayana month in Karkkidakam at Hindu temples and homes, was a concept mooted by Parameswarji at the Vishala Hindu Sammelanam held in Kochi in the late 1970s.
The rituals, Ramayana chanting, are mainly confined to houses. However, various Hindu organisations and fraternities are conducting a month-long Ramayana chanting and discourses on various digital and social media platforms.
Also during Ramayana Masam, Hindus also undertake pilgrimage to the four temples of Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna, located in Kottayam and Thrissur districts. This ritual is known as ‘Nalambalam Darshanam’.
The Ramayana Masam observances culminate with the auspicious occasion of ‘Karkidaka Vavu,’ which falls on the Amavasya (new moon) day of the month. On this day, devotees gather at riverbanks, seashores, and other sacred water bodies to perform ‘bali tharpanam,’ a ritual of offering oblations to their ancestors. This act is believed to bring solace to the departed souls and cleanse any ancestral lineage afflictions.
Some devotees observe fasting during Ramayana Masam as a mark of their reverence and dedication. They abstain from consuming certain foods or follow a strict vegetarian diet throughout the month.