Kalpathy Car Festival – Ratholsavam near Palakkad in Kerala

Kalpathy Car Festival, or Chariot festival, which is held during the last week of Tamil month Aipassi (October – November) at Kaplathy near Palakkad in Kerala reminds one of the world famous Puri Rath Yatra festival. In 2014, the Kalpathy car festival is scheduled to be held from November 14 to 16. The Rathasangamom will be held before the Sree Viswanathaswamy Temple in Kalpathy on the evening of November 16. Kalpathy and its 18 Agraharams is an early Tamil Brahmin settlement and is known as the ‘Varanasi of the South.’ The 10-day Kalpathy Ratholsavam is the most important festival of the year here.

The epicenter of the Kalpathy Car Festival is the Sree Viswanathaswami Temple in Kalpathy. Temples in New Kalpathy, Old Kalpathy and Chathapuram joins in on simultaneous days for the celebrations. The most important days during the 10-day festival are the last three days. And on the final day there is the Rathasangamom at Sri Viswanathaswami Temple, which happens on the last day of Aippassi Month.

On the first day, the three chariots carrying the deities of Sree Viswanathaswamy Temple is taken out in procession. The first chariot is of Lord Shiva (Shri Viswanathaswamy) and Parvati. The second chariot is of Lord Ganesha (Vigneshwara) and the third is of Lord Muruga (Subrahmanya or Kartik along with his consorts). The chariots set out on Grama Pradikshinam, which is the village tour, around 10 in the morning and return by sunset.

On the second day, Lord Ganesha (Manthakara Mahaganapathy) which is the presiding deity of New Kalpahty temple is taken out on procession.
On the final day, the deities of the Old Kalpathy Temple and Chathapuram Temple are taken around the respective villages on their chariots. The deity of Old Kalpathy is Lakshminarayana Perumal and that of Chathapuram is Mahaganapathy (Ganesha).

In the evening on the final day, the ‘Rathasangamom’ – the congregation of all the chariots – will take place before the Sree Viswanathaswamy Temple in Kalpathy.