On Shivaratri, I remember two elders, my mother’s elder sister Bhavani periya ammai and Perinkulam Krishna vadhyar .
Periyammai, orthodox to the core used to prepare three days in advance for Shivaratri upavasam, sincerely do the fasting, Japam etc, manage to skip the afternoon nap, go to Kalpathy at night, with a grass mat in hand, wait patiently for the Kathakalakeshapam , enjoying the company of friends and unknowingly fall into sleep soon after the discourse started, encouraged by the cool wind from the Kalpathy river, transmitted by the big neem tree branches in the Kovilkundu, the site of the discourse in front of the Shiva Temple.
Like my father, Sri. Krishna vadhyar, was a Kathakali lover. The Hemambika temple used to arrange Kathakali for nine nights, including the Shivaratri night, which I’m told is now reduced to three nights. Vadhyar used to come all the way from our village, have dinner with us and along with my father, go to Kallaikulankara Templ, enjoy the show whole night, have bath in the ponds next morning, worship in the temple and return. My father used to take me too and I remember our crossing the railway track and trek the hill to reach the other side, holding an indigenously made hand torch called choottu. Still fresh in memory the sparks from the hand torch moving around, in the darkness. So is the call for alms from an ‘untouchable’ Nayadi woman, standing far away, while we return the next morning.
The unscrupulous builders have now completely demolished that natural hillock, just as they have molested the ever young Kalpathy river.