Mamankam and Chaver
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Author: Vishnu
On the banks of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’ or ‘Nila’, in Malappuram District of Kerala, India, there is a small village named ‘Thirunavaya’. This place was once the capital of the Kingdom of Cochin ruled by ‘Perumpadappu Swaroopam’, the royal family of ‘Cochin’ (or ‘Cochi’) and then ruled by many rulers till it was captured by ‘Saamoothiri’, king of Kozhikode (Malabar).

‘Thirunavaya’ was also famous for the great ‘Mamankam’ Festival, The festival and trade fair lasting for 28 days, held once in 12 years, in ‘Navamukunda Temple’, on the banks of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’. ‘Mamankam’ is believed as one of the most prominent festivals and trade fair of Kerala from middle age. A huge number of traders from different parts of current Kerala and Tamil Nadu came here to trade here.

During those times, Kerala state was fragmented into many small kingdoms, the rights for this festival remained with different rulers at different times like ‘Perumals’, the ‘Chera’ king of ‘Kodungaloor’ and then to Perumpadappu Swaroopam and then to rulers of ‘Valluvanadu’, ‘Vellattiri’.
Then between 1353 and 1361, ‘Saamoothiri’, the king of ‘Kozhikode’ (Malabar) fought a series of small battles named ‘Thirunavaya War’, to capture the small states nearby, including Thirunavaya; forcefully took over the sole right of conducting Mamankam and proclaimed himself as the protector (Raksha Purusha) of these states and temple.

When Saamoothiri started conducting Mamankam; all adjoining kings send their flags to Saamoothiri as a proof of their loyalty. But the king of Valluvanadu used to send a Suicide squad of 18 members named ‘Chaver’ from different families in Valluvanadu to assassinate Saamoothiri, while he will be present at ‘Nilapaadu Thara’, protected by his soldiers, watching Mamankam. The Chaver soldiers were believed to be from families ‘Putumanna Panikkar’, ‘Chandrath Panikkar’, ‘Kokat Panikkar’, ‘Verkot Panikkar’, ‘Elampulakkad Achan’, ‘Kulathoor Varier’, ‘Uppamkalathil Pisharody’, ‘Pathiramana Vellody’, ‘Parakkatt Nair’, ‘Kakkoot Nair’, ‘Mannarmala Nair’, ‘Cherukara Pisharody’, Velluvanaad Royal House and two Namboothiries.

These Chaver used to fight till death and their dead bodies are believed to be buried in a well nearby named ‘Manikkinar’ and pressed and covered with help of elephants.
The last Mamankam was believed to have conducted in 1755, where the Saamoothiri had a hair breath escape from an 18 year old Chaver soldier named ‘Putumanna Kandaru Menon’ from ‘Putumanna Panikkar’ family. Anyhow in 1765, the Mysore king ‘Hydarali’ defeated Saamoothiri and this festival ended forever.

There still remains a banyan tree at Thavanoor, on bank of Bharathapuzha, which is believed to have witnessed the entire Mamankam Festivals.
Mamankam is also believed to be the grand ceremony where all kings of Kerala will assemble to elect their emperor and the trades fair conducted in these 28 days are economically so important for each kingdom.

No body will be able to tell us the truth for sure, except the Banyan tree who witnessed it all.
Friday, June 05, 2009 | Author: Vishnu
“Chamravattam” is a small village in Malappuram District of Kerala, India; situated on shores of a river “Bharathapuzha”, also known as “Nila”. This place is famous for the presence of a temple situated in an island about 100 meters inwards in to Nila, dedicated to lord Ayyapa. As a part of custom, Innumerable pilgrims visit this temple on their way to the famous “Sabarimala” temple during the season.

What make this temple special are the peculiarities in the temple design, location of the temple and the method of worship (Pooja).
Unlike other Hindu temples; the Sanctum sanctorum of the temple, where “murti” of “lord Ayyappa” is installed, is below the ground level and the murti is installed in sand; as if the temple was built around the idol which was already there. The reason for this is believed to be that the idol was not installed by anyone but as a miracle emerged from the ground by itself and is still growing. This phenomena is names as “Swayambhu”, meaning Self-manifested or that which is created by its own accord. The method of worship also differs here slightly as, unlike other temples, bell is not used here for pooja.
This temple is situated in a small island about 100 meters inwards the river, which immerse in water during the monsoons. Temple will be so much waterlogged that the water level will be about 4 feet high inside the temple.

The name Chamravattam originates from Sambaravattam, named after a saint named Sambara Maharshi, who used to meditate on the banks of the river. After years when the
tapasya was over, he advised a brahmin that this is lord Ayyapa and on the method of Pooja ; this is believed to be the reason for the difference in the method.
New studies point that during earlier years, Chamravattam could have been a part of the Jain settlement as a part of the Jain country ruled from sravanabelgola and the name of the river ‘Bharathapuzha’ is named after the mythical Jain king “Bharata”. The statues, pots and utilities made of clay found in this place, even today, may be pointing to the same fact and to the differences in pooja and the concept of lord Ayyappa (Lord Ayyappa is considered to be married in this temple, which is not the case in others).
You may notice that this place is not mentioned in many old Hindu stories and according to the old sayings around here, places towards west of Thirunavaya , including Chamravattam, is considered to be part of Arebian sea. Due to this belief, devotees perform the rituals for the dead at Thirunavaya, considering it as the end of the river.
Studies also suggest that Aryabhata, the great mathematician-astronomer from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy is from Chamravattam, which also may mean that Chamravattam was a part of old Jain kingdom.
Anyhow, if we try to observe from so close by, these colorful places and stories become just ruins of some not so colorful events, which is at the level of decay. Believe me; the way to look at myth is from a distance. What we see from there takes us to somewhere which may not have existed historically, but in peoples mind.