Puthuppally Perunal

Flag hoisting (Kodiyetu): Two flag masts made of Arecanut palm, one each from the hamlets of Puthuppally and Ericadu, are brought to Puthuppally junction ten days before the feast. They are carried to the church from there in a ceremonial procession by a crowd of devotees with traditional orchestral accompaniments. Both the flag masts are erected in front of the church; the flags are blessed and hoisted by the priest and hailed by the devotees present. During the next ten days, then festival follows a hectic schedule of traditional orchestral drum beating (Chendamelam), cannon shots from the foot of the flag masts (Kathinavedi), Mass every morning and evening prayers along with other local events all in the premises of the church.

Collection of firewood and procession (Virakideel), mass luncheon(Vechootu) and distribution of offerings (Nercha vilambu): On 7 May, the main day of the Feast, it is customary to provide rice meals to the thousands of devotees who attend Holy Mass (Vechoot). It is tradition to bring little children to the church to receive their first ever meal of rice from the priests(Adya Choroonu). After the ceremonial procession (Rasa) in the afternoon, offering of rice, appam and chicken curry are distributed. Follwoing tradition, devotees give live fowl as offering to the church particularly during this feast. Chicken is prepared into a curry out of the same and is served along with the appam that is also given as offering to the church by devotees. Fire wood for preparation of the above food is also offered and collected from Puthuppally and Ericadu hamlets and is brought in ceremonial procession to the church in the same manner as the flag masts. This is known as Virakideel.

Ceremonial Procession (Rasa): The gold cross (Ponkurisu) is taken out and after traditional prayers and rites,is placed on the main altar after Holy Mass on 6 May. On the same day evening processions from the Cross Towers (Kurisin Thotty) at Kochalummoodu and Parackal Kadavu proceed towards Puthuppally church and reach there at about 8:00 PM. Devotees carry a wooden cross, a gold cross, silver crosses, ornate ceremonial umbrellas (Muthukuda),flags,and lit candles, and walking with traditional orchestral accompaniments, the procession passes through Kuttenchirapaddy, Nilackal pallypaddy and reaches the Cross Tower (Kurisin Thotty) at Puthuppally junction. Prayers are helf here and then the procession returns to the churhc by about 9:00 PM for the last of the prayers. People living along the route taken by the procession participate in the event by placing lit candles and portraits of one of the church’s patron saint in front of their houses and shops. This is done by most people living in the area irrespective of religion or caste.

Light displays (Deepa Kazhcha) and Fire works (Karimarinu prayogam): Usually, the paddy fields in front of the church are flooded in May. Thousands of wick lamps in coconut shells are lit and floated out into these flooded waters on the evening of May 6 before the processions. The feast ends with a display of fire works soon after the procession returns to the church. The fire works at this feast are great renown in the region and spectators from surrounding villages and cities crowd many vantage points around the church to see it.

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