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.
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11 comments:

On July 19, 2011 at 5:44 PM , WOLVERINE said...

the resemblance of chavers with Samurais of japan is really astonishing. As we know Samurai had a code for living known as 'Bushido', it taught them to Die for honor, and loyalty. Was there any code among chavers? or it was done because of extreme loyalty and promise. if there was one, it should be identified and spread, because it can bring order and peace in the life of west leaning modern malayali children.

 
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On December 3, 2014 at 6:54 PM , Anonymous said...

Today I read an account by a greek traveller in a book titled "Kerala". It said in the Mamankam ritual, the king would abdicate his throne by a gruesome self immolation, wherein he would cut off his nose, ears, limbs etc. till he started fainting by the amount of blood loss, and then he would quickly slit his throat. The future contenders had to be present at the ritual and then he would qualify for the emperorship...!!!

 
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