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Vaikkom Siva temple is located on the eastern shore of Vembanad Lake, in Kottayam district. The name of Vaikkom became prominent when a Satyagraha campaign initiated by Mahatma Gandhi was launched in 1924 to throw open the temple to the Avarna Hindus to whom they were closed.

The sacred Ashtami festival of the temple takes place during the dark lunar fortnight of the Malayalam month Vrischikam (Sagittarius) which concludes on the Ashtami day. On the Ashtami night, Thidampu, a symbolic idol of the Lord Siva (known here as Vaikom Mahadeva) is taken out in procession. On its way, many deities from nearby temples join the procession. The cultural fare includes classical music and dance performances including night-long Kathakali performances on the eighth and ninth days.

It is believed that Parasurama built the temple. He found the sacred lingam submerged in the water, on the shore of the lake. He is said to have stayed there for long, performed sahasra kalasam and mass feeding. It’s to commemorate this event that even today, the12 day festival is observed and sumptuous feasts are offered.

There are two ashtami festivals-one in the month of Kumbham and the other in Vruchigam The later one is more significant and it falls on 13th December this year.It is celebrated in commemoration of the fact that Siva appeared to the Sage and granted him boons at day break on the Ashtami day ie eighth day after full moon.

On this day the image is taken out in procession, on elephantback. Several elephants escort the deity. At night the procession starts from the temple of Muruka at Udayanapuram and joins the procession at Vaikkom. Father and son meet, greet each other and then part.

The ritual is held in this manner: Two elephants bearing the images of the deities stand facing each other. A conch is sounded and the two elephants go one behind the other a few yards in the direction of Udayanapuram. On hearing the sound of the conch once again, the Siva’s elephant walks back while the other proceeds to his own temple.

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