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Celebration of Kerala's Tradition & Culture

Poliyindra, North Malabar

The Tuluva community and the natives of Kasargod celebrate Onam twice a year - once during Chingam, just like other Keralites and then during Deepavali. They believe that Mahabali visits them, not during Chingam, but in the three days prior to the new moon day in the month of Thulam. This festival is called ‘Poliyindra’ or ‘Balindra’. It is a time when Mahabali is worshipped as a God.

On the Amavasya or new moon day of the month of Thulam, the men of the community gather branches of the Ezhilampala/ Milk wood tree in bundles of three and position them in specific places around the temple. It is also placed in houses, near gardens, wells and cowsheds. The branches are decorated with flowers and coconut shells. A tiny pouch containing roasted rice is dipped in oil and lit after placing it in the coconut shell. They then chant “Poliyindra Poliyindra Hari Om Hari” when the pouch is being lit. Poliyindra is called in houses for three days. The phrase “Mepattukalathu nerathe va” meaning “Come early next year” is chanted on the final day bringing the ritual to a close.  

In houses north of Kanhangad, the lamp is lit after bringing rice and a wick in a plate to take arati following the evening prayers. This Tuluva festival is celebrated in Karnataka between the regions of Trikaripur and Kundapura. Poliyindra takes place in a grand manner at Sastha temples in Kasaragod district. In North Malabar, during the worship of Mahabali, Baleendra Sandhya (song praising Mahabali) is sung. This festival, celebrated during Deepavali, has been mentioned by Iranian scholar Al-Biruni who visited India in the 11th century. While the ritual is on the decline in some areas, Poliyindra is still celebrated in many other regions such as North Kerala and Karnataka.

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