“Karkidaka Vavu Bali” is a ritual performed by the Hindus in Kerala for their deceased ancestors. Also known as ‘Vavu Bali’, it falls in the month of ‘Karkidakam’ according to the Malayalam calendar. If one follows the English calendar, the date falls in the month of July to August.
This year the Karkidaka Vavu is on 31st July.
On the day of Vavu or Amavasi (no moon day) people gather on the riverbanks and beaches to offer bali. It is believed that the departed souls attain “moksha” (liberation) if the ritualistic homage is performed on Karkidaka Vavu.
People on this day offer ritual poojas with darbha (a type of grass), pavithram – the ring made of sacred grass, sesame, and herbs like cheroola. Other ingredients of the pooja – cooked rice, water, etc. will also be placed on a banana leaf before commencing the ritual. Men, women and children offer Bali to the ancestors. Men wear only a dhoti during the ritual and the offerings done on the banana leaf will be finally immersed in the waters of the river or sea.
Hindu customs and rituals give much importance to the rituals that are to be performed after the death. In Malayalam these rituals are commonly denoted as shesha kriya (shesham means after and kriya denotes rituals). According to the Hindu custom, if a member in the family dies, the younger ones in the family have to perform Bali (also called Pithru Tharpanam) to liberate the soul from the shackles of this worldly life and to help the soul achieve eternal peace.
The regular custom is to perform the ritual on the basis of the calculations on the star of the day the family member has died. However, Karkidaka Vavu bali is performed regardless of these calculations. The rites are conducted as per the Hindu custom and performed in beaches and waterways.
Shangumugham Beach in Thiruvananthapuram, Sri Parasurama Temple in Thiruvallam, also in Thiruvananthapuram, Aruvikkara in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrivikramangalam, the sand banks of river Periyar at Aluva, Bharathapuzha at Thirunavaya in Malappuram and Kozhikode beach are some of the other important places where Karkidaka Vavubali is performed.
Hindus in Kerala never fail to perform this ritual on the day of Karkidaka Vavu.