Kollam: A small gust of breeze from the sea is enough to send a thousand chimes ringing from the tens of thousands of bells tied up a huge banyan tree on the premises of a temple here at Ponmana. Even the frailest branch has a bell. No wonder it’s called tree of bells. Its leaves and trunk are sparingly seen. For they are all covered by bells tied by devotees who believe that the deity who lives within, accepts their prayers and grants their wishes.
The Kaattil Mekkathil Temple at Ponmana near Chavara has the Arabian Sea on one side and the TS Canal on the other. Thousands of devotees from all over the country come to the tree to tie the sacred bells given to them from the temple. “The devotees go round the tree seven times before they tie the bell onto it. At the seventh round, they make a wish and it will be fulfilled. The tree is covered with such bells tied by the devotees”, said Aneesh, office secretary at the temple.
The banyan tree’s weakest branches could not bear the weight of the brass bells and had even come down. “We have almost 15 sacks full of bells. But we have now reduced the weight of each bell from 20 gm to 15 gm to help the tree bear the weight”, he added. The bells are blessed by the temple priest and given to the devotees for Rs 30 per piece.
The temple also holds a “12 vilakku utsavam”, a festival lasting 12 days during which time devotees live on the temple premises in makeshift huts. Around 910 such huts have been put up for this year’s festival which will end on Friday.