Karkataka Kanji, Vavu Bali Tharpanam in Kerala
Ramayana masam (month) falls from the mid of July till the mid of August. In Malayalam calendar, this is Karkataka Masam. The monsoon rains are at its peak in Karkitakam month.
In olden days, Ramayana month was considered poverty time as this rainy month gave least yield and was marked with poverty, diseases and unhappiness. To ward off nature’s fury people used to read the Ramayana. New ventures and auspicious functions are not held during this month.
The epic Ramayan is read in Ramayana month in homes and temples. Grandparents, parents and children after lighting the evening lamp sit before nilavilakku (traditional Kerala lamp) and recite the Malayalam Ramayana. The Ramayan reading begins on the first day of the month and a portion of the epic is read on all days and is completely read by last day of the month.
Visiting the temples of Dasaratha brothers (Sreerama, bharatha, Lakshmana, and Satrugna) is also considered good during this period. There is a temple called Nalambalam (meaning four temples),in Kottayam District. These are four temples - Amanakara Bharathaswamy Temple, Koodapulam Lekshmana Temple, Ramapuram Sreeramaswamy Temple, and Methiri Sathrughna Temple.
Karkataka Kanji, a porridge made from ayurvedic medicines, is given to the family members during this period, for keeping good health. Members from the well to do families go for ayurvedic treatment.
Vavu Bali or Vavubali Tharpanam is an important ritual in the month of Karkitakam, performed for the ancestors. Usually, it is performed at river banks or beaches or wherever there is a water body. Many people make a special visit to the important religious places like Thirunelli, Thirunavaya, Aluva, etc., to offer bali on Karkitaka Amavasya.