Aluva Sivaratri Fair
On Sivaratri day, people assemble at a Siva temple on a sandy expanse. This sandy expanse (which is not a proper beach) is on the banks of river Periyar across the town of Aluva in mid-Kerala. If you are going to the fair from Aluva, you cross the river in a country boat (pic right) to reach the temple.
If you are a true devotee, you reach the temple towards the evening, and keep awake the whole night. You do this to keep company with Lord Siva who had consumed the poison of a huge snake that could have destroyed the whole earth. The poison could have killed the Lord if he had slept. So he had to be kept awake and you keep him company in this task.
You also perform some rituals for the welfare of your dead ancestors and bathe in the river.
For most visitors, however, the attraction is the fair that comes up on the sands during this festival.
The Sivaratri Festival Fair
The merchandise might be displayed either on the sandy ground (pic left), or in temporary stalls built with bamboo poles and coconut thatches. The merchandise consist of traditional household articles, like the earthen pots in the pic left and kitchen utensils and cutting tools in pic below.
For the modern Keralite, a visit to the Aluva Sivaratri fair is an occasion to see the kinds of utensils people had used in an earlier time.
You could find sleeping mats made of the fibre of a certain plant, coir carpets and mats for various purposes (including a thick short one put in front of doors to rub your feet free of dirt before you entered a house or room). You would also find traditional fans (some of which were made of scented fibre) with which people fanned themselves using their own hands.
The pic to the left shows stoneware that people used to cook curries over an open fire. These stone vessels are completely neutral and do not react with the ingredients in any way. Many Kerala housewives still prefer to use these for cooking certain curries. Some even believe that cooking in these vessels give the curries the original taste.