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Vaikathashtami 2023: Know date, rituals, history, significance of Ashtami festival in Kerala

Vaikathashtami or Ashtami festival, is a significant Hindu festival celebrated primarily in the state of Kerala, India. Know date, rituals, history, and significance of Ashtami festival in Kerala.

Vaikathashtami 2023: Know date, rituals, history, significance of Ashtami festival in Kerala rkn
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First Published Dec 2, 2023, 11:53 AM IST

Vaikathashtami or Ashtami festival, is a significant Hindu festival celebrated primarily in the state of Kerala, India. The festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it is observed in the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, located in Vaikom near Kottayam. The temple is considered one of the oldest and most revered Shiva temples in Kerala.

The Vaikom Mahadeva Temple holds a unique position as it is revered by both Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites. The presiding deity, Shiva, is affectionately known as Vaikkathappan. The temple houses a Shiva Linga believed to date back to the 'Treta Yuga,' making it one of the oldest temples in Kerala where continuous worship has been maintained since its inception.

Vaikathashtami is a significant festival celebrated on Krishna Ashtami. According to legend, a saint named Vyaghrapada fervently prayed to Lord Shiva for years, and the deity, along with his consort Parvathy Devi, appeared before him on the day of Krishna Ashtami. This event is commemorated through the celebration of Vaikathashtami. The festival spans 12 days, with the twelfth day being the main day of Vaikathashtami. Devotees observe this occasion with rituals, prayers, and festivities to honor the divine presence at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple.

The festival falls on the eighth day (Ashtami) in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam (November–December). This year, the event will start on December 5

Key features of the Vaikathashtami festival include:

Devotee Pilgrimage: Thousands of devotees visit the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple during Vaikathashtami. Pilgrims undertake a circumambulation (pradakshina) around the temple.

Auspicious Rituals: Special pujas (rituals) and ceremonies are performed throughout the day in honor of Lord Shiva. Devotees offer prayers, flowers, and light lamps as a mark of devotion.

Processions: Colorful processions, featuring traditional music and art forms, are part of the festival. These processions add to the festive atmosphere.

Cultural Programs: The festival often includes cultural events and performances, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Kerala.

Vaikathashtami is a time when devotees express their reverence to Lord Shiva and seek his blessings. The festival attracts both locals and tourists, making it a vibrant and spiritually significant celebration in the region.

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