Kerala Famous Arts and Martial

Ochirakali

Ochirakali, a festival of martial arts, is performed as a part of the annual festival of Parabrahma Temple at Ochira in Kollam District. It is conducted in memory of the battle fought between the kings of two feudal principalities - Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha. The festival falls around 15th June and lasts for two days. In Ochirakali, a mock fight is enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the battle field called padanilam. Then they perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields and splashing water in every direction. Ochira is around 34 km north of Kollam.

It was first held at a place called Ochira in Alleppey district. The kali (play) in which a large number of people participate is held as a part of an annual festival to commemorate a battle fought between the kings of two feudal principalities, Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha. The festival falls around 15th June and it lasts for two days. The mock show of the fight is done on both days. The fight takes place in front of the Ochira temple. A very special feature of this temple is that it has no temple building or any image of god or goddess. There are many pipal trees which are all worshipped by the devotees. There are no official pujaris. The main deity is known as Parabrahmam. The festivals are conducted by a committee consisting of representatives of 52 villages around this area. The large and open space known as Patanilam in front of the place of worship is the ground where the mock fight take place. The participants in the fight hold a sword in the right hand and a shield in other hand and are dressed as warriors. Only members of the Nair community used to participate in the kali. But now it has assumed the character of a festival in which members of all communities take active part. Women do not participate in the fight. There are no duel combats, only group fights. Two groups fight each other, each group advancing in offence and retreating in defence. The movement start slowly and gain momentum, attaining fast tempo. There are a number of forward and backward movements which exhibit the physical prowess of the groups involved.

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