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Velichappadu – The Oracle

Velichappadu – The Oracle

Velichappadu means “one who reveals light” who is the mediator between a Deity at a Hindu Temple in Kerala and the Devotees. A Velichappadu is also known as “Komaram”. They often belong to a particular family.

Hindu Bhagavati (Devi) temples have some rituals which are associated with the Velichappadu. Male Velichappadu is more common though there are some cases where females also take the role.


The Velichappadu appears dressed in Red with their body smeared with Bhasmam (Ash) or Turmeric powder in some cases, being followers of Goddess Bhadrakaali (fierce form of Devi). They wear heavy ritual ornaments and garlands.

They use a heavy hooked Sword, Chilambu (Anklet) and Aramani (a sort of waist belt). These belts are studded with small curling bronze bells. The Velichappadu (male) grows long hair hanging loose on their forehead and back.

It is customary to have years of practice and prayers to become a Velichappadu.

In Temple Rituals

The Velichappadu normally does meditation during the Pooja in the temple. Once the Pooja is over, he prays the deity and slowly gets into a trance. It is assumed that the presiding deity gets invoked on to the Velichappadu’s body at this time. He then does a sort of dance called Thullal in Malayalam which is in accompaniment of Drum (Chenda) and Cymbal. This is usually called “Velichappedal”

The Velichappadu moves in and out of the temple courtyard and talks to the devotees. The deity is believed to be talking through the Velichappadu and delivers frenzied forecasts. How they talk is often vague and difficult to decipher. They often predicts solutions to problems put forward by the devotees. An assistant to the Velichappadu translates the words so that the devotees understand what he says.

In some cases, the Velichappadu in a state of ecstasy or being in a trance cuts his forehead with the sword. This is an offering to the deity as a symbol of an unshakable faith towards to the deity.

Kodungallur Bharani

We can find both male and female Velichappadu performing during the Bharani Festival in the famous Kodungallur Temple in Kerala. They come from various parts of Kerala. The Bharani Paattu is famous for its vulgar language.

Movie on the life of a Velichappadu

There is a Malayalam Movie “Nirmalyam” directed by M T Vasudevan Nair, released in 1973 with Late Sri P J Antony as the Velichappadu. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor in 1974 for this movie.

Picture used for illustration only – Credit: Bijoy Mohan

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.

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