Hindu festivals are also a time for visiting the temple.
Pongal is one of the most important festivals of the year. It is celebrated around January/February time and is a harvest festival. Along with the normal washing rituals, special sweet rice is cooked outside the house and a meal is served with this and numerous other varieties of the newly harvested rice. New clothes are bought, especially for the children, and all the tailors and readymade clothes shops do good business.
At the same time of year are two other linked festivals: Boghi Pongal when houses are spring cleaned and Cow Pongal when all the cows have their long horns painted in bright colours and sometimes decorated with ornaments. Cow Pongal has also traditionally been celebrated with the bull races: until 2007 when they were finally banned, bull races were held in most villages and they ranged from a few children chasing an annoyed bullock down the main street to huge, dangerous events with thousands of people, large cash prizes, and many angry bulls. Some of the communities will be very reluctant to give up this popular, if cruel, entertainment.
You can find more info about Pongal at www.pongalfestival.org
The other main festival of the year celebrated in K.V.Kuppam is Divali in October. The usual cleansing rituals are performed and a special meal with three different types of vadai (a savoury snack) is eaten. In addition to this an image of a god made from turmeric is carried around the village from the temple as part of a procession with musicians, dancers and priests. At each house the procession stops and the family in the house comes out to make their offerings (a garland of flowers, a coconut, ball of jaggery[raw sugar], bananas or money).
There are many smaller festivals in the villages such as the `Vinayagar Sadurthil festival` when each village will buy a clay image of Ganesh (also called Vinayagar or Ganapathy) weighing up to 200kg. The god will stay 3 or 5 days and on those days he will be offered channa masala, rice and other foods. The priest will perform ceremonies and the whole village get together to celebrate. On the fifth day the clay image is immersed in a well or river, if there is one, where he will mix with the water and disappear.
One of the most popular festivals, which takes place early in January, is the Kali Amman Festival. Kali Amman (mother goddess) is the form Parvati is said to have taken to do battle with a demon. She is considered to be a powerful and frightening goddess and her image is never taken indoors as it would be too dangerous. She is very popular in some of the villages in KVK Block.
Although the caste system is no longer as rigid as it used to be, caste can still play an important part in festivals. Some temples still hold festivals over several nights: each night members of a different caste will attend. The Harijans or Scheduled Caste may be excluded but they can have their own events.