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Ramayana Masam in Kerala
The Karkadakam month (July - August) in the Malayalam Calendar is observed as the Ramayana Masam in Kerala. "Masam" means month in Malayalam. During this month, the epic Ramayana is recited in homes and temples. In 2007, the Ramayana Masam is from July 17th to August 16th. The reading of epic Ramayana begins on the first day of the month and it will be completed on the last day of the month.
The Ramayana read in Kerala homes is the Adhyatma Ramaynam Kilippattu written by Thunchath Ezhuthachan. Grandparents, parents and children after lighting the evening lamp sit before nilavilakku (traditional Kerala lamp) and recite the Malayalam Ramayana. The reading of the epic is divided is such a way that the reading ends on the last day of the month.
The month Karkidakam is the last month in the Malayalam Calendar. The monsoon is at its peak during the Karkadakam month. Earlier majority of the people depended on agriculture and this month used be the month of scarcity. With the fields flooded, there used to be no work and the economy used to come to a stand still. In some places, due to the rains, it was even hard to venture outside the house. To ward off nature's fury people used to read the Ramayana. New ventures and auspicious functions are not held during this month.
The reading of the Ramayana in Kerala homes is a rarity nowadays - reasons: change in lifestyle and television. But there are some houses which still follow the tradition. Ramayana is recited in all Lord Vishnu temples in Kerala during this period.
Various Hindu spiritual and religious organizations organize public discourses, quiz competitions and recitals during this month. Several cultural organizations organize plays and competitions based on the epic. Another unique feature of the month is the brisk sale of the book Adhyatma Ramayanam.
Now, the Ramayana Masam is an important event for popular Malayalam channels. Most channels find space for Ramayana rendering and discussion during the month.