Poonam Singh

In a distinctive cultural tradition, during the Chamayamvilakku festival at the Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple in Kerala, men engage in a sacred ritual that involves cross-dressing as women. To achieve an authentic appearance, they pluck their eyebrows, apply makeup, adorn vibrant saris, and even shave off their mustaches.

This annual festival, spanning 19 days in March, culminates in the final two days with the remarkable "Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku" ceremony. 

Recently a video of the men dressed as women went viral on the internet.

“Hundreds of men dress up as women during the last two days of the festival as part of traditional rituals at the famous Kottankulangara Devi temple in Chawda, Kollam. Men with make-up are also rewarded. All women in this video are men It's hard to believe..but it's true..,” read the caption of post on X. (sic)

The user even revealed how she received queries about the ritual after she shared the video. 

“I am receiving various queries on the contents of this video. Believe me, I myself have learnt about the same for the first time. Hence sharing the beauty of Ardhaneshwar kind of feelings that I felt And yes these men are beautiful,” read her post. (sic)

Reportedly, men actively participate in this ritual, embellishing themselves with glittering jewellery, intricate makeup, and draped saris as an offering to the Goddess in gratitude for fulfilling their prayers. Some of these men exhibit such striking femininity that discerning them as males dressed in women’s attire becomes a challenging feat.

As per a Financial Express report, legend has it that a group of young cowherds playfully dressed in feminine attire, offered flowers and a coconut delicacy called ‘kottan’ to a stone. In a miraculous turn of events, the goddess manifested herself before one of the boys. After this divine encounter, a temple was erected, formalizing the custom of men donning women’s clothing as a gesture of homage to the goddess.

The revered stone, believed to embody the deity, is thought to have expanded in size over the years. The ritual of men assuming women’s attire during the festival serves as a symbolic and longstanding expression of devotion, rooted in the mystical origins of the Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple.