Karkidaka Masam, or Karkidakam Month, is the last month in the traditional Malayalam calendar followed in Kerala. The month is also known as the Ramayana Masam – the epic Ramayan is read in the month in homes and temples. The monsoon rains are at its peak in Karkitakam month. In 2011, Karkidaka Masam begins on July 17 and ends on August 16.
Karkidaka Vavu Bali a ritual dedicated to the dead ancestors and relatives is performed on the Amavasi or no moon day in the Karkidaka Masam. Thousands of people visit the sea shores and riverbanks to perform the ritual.
Two decades ago, Karkidaka Masam used to be one of the difficult months due to heavy rains and floods. Majority of the people depended on agriculture and this month used to be the month of scarcity. With the farm fields flooded, there used to be no work and the economy used to come to a stand still. In some places, due to the rains, it was even hard to venture outside the house. To ward off nature’s fury people used to read the Ramayana in the month.
But things have changed and the there are no heavy rains and agriculture in Kerala. But still people follow certain rituals in Karkidakam month.
New ventures and auspicious functions are not held during the month by Hindus.
Another highlight of Karkidakam month is the specific ayurvedic treatments followed by people. Some people drink Karkidaka Kanji, a gruel mixed with herbs and medicines, in the month.
Many devout Hindus conduct pujas and rituals dedicated to Goddess Bhagavati (Shakti) like Bhagavathi seva in their homes during this month to ward of evil. The Lalitha Sahasranamam is chanted to invoke Goddess Devi and archanas are offered. In most Devi Temples there is Sahasranama Archanas everyday in the evening of Karkidaka month. Special payasams are prepared in some homes and temples.