Saturday 19 February 2011

Nila in mourning. one more legend passes away..

Many of our guests who experience The Blue Yonder legend trails says,"He is our hero. What a man!". This was about 'Aazhvanchery Thamprakkal', who passed away yesterday in 'Aathavanad' in Kerala.

'Thamprakkal' was a legend by himself. Generations of 'Thamprakkal' from 'Aazhvanchery Mana' were the supreme authority when it comes to religious issues of Kerala Brahmins. He was the one who anointed many Maharajas in the three 'countries' of the land that came to be later known as Keralam. When all the landlords, Brahmins and Kings pay respect to the Maharaja of Travancore, he in turn visits the guest house of "Aazhvanchery Thamprakkal' to pay his respect. So much was the respect he held and he was the only person who didn't not have to stand up when the Maharaja arrives in the vicinity.

Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma - Erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore once said, "If he were in Rome,he would be the Pope", referring to the authority he carried when it comes to his public prominence.

The English revenue collector William Logan's historic publication called 'Malabar Manual' has several anecdotes about 'Thamprakal'. One such describes him as "the most respected among the human race". Another description calls him as the "Representative of the Gods on this earth". This could be about any of the representative of various generations of 'Thamprakkal'. The legend of 'Thamprakkal' is linked to the origin of the land of Kerala. When warrior saint, 'Parasurama' after annihilation of all the 'Kshatriyas' created the land of Kerala from the ocean to provide land to the Brahmins, appointed him as the supreme authorities of the thirty two Brahmin villages that constituted Keralam.

If not by physical presence, there was not a single auspicious event that would happen in the households or temples or palaces in Kerala without his 'spiritual' presence. As a representation, all rituals used to keep apart a special wooden platform for the 'Thamprakkal', which stays revered and respected throughout the ceremonies.

Many of the story books in Malayalam like "Aitheehyamala" has numerous tales linked to the family of "Thamprakkal". From how the name "Ponnani" (one of Kerala's oldest trading ports, where River Nila joins Arabian Sea) and 'Athavanad" are all related to Aazhvanchery Thamprakkal'. Apparantly, he made a golden statue of an elephant walk to his palace on arrival at the port. The land where the golden elephant was made to walk by Thamprakkal came to be known as "Ponnani". ('Ponnu' means gold and 'Aana' means Elephant in Malayalam). Young children of the Travancore dynasty used to 'passed through' the belly of this gold elephant as part of their naming ceremony or when they were given various titles as per the rule of the land.

Legends apart, 'Thamprakkal' was so much part of our day to day realities. A man who held together the secular network of central and North Kerala especially was till recently an active social presence. He was an active supporter of 'Changapilly family', of Tulu Brahmins, who were forced to convert into Islam during the invasion of Tipu Sultan to Malabar region. Their Kalari in Tirunavaya is probably the only martial arts centre in Kerala which has an access through the right side of the building ( representing the Islamic practices in holy Mecca and Kaaba. Till this day, one can see the massive teak-wood made flag-post donated by 'Thamprakkal' standing in front of the memorial of Muslim warriors who were martyred in the wars near the ancestral house of Changampilly.

Yesterday was one of the most popular and fascinating festivals of 'Chinakkathoor Pooram' and 'Vairamkodu Vela' in the Valluvanad region. It was while wondering where all the people went and why the festivities were not visible on the streets that we came to know of the death of scion of Aazhvanchery. Most of the processions were cancelled or festivities toned down. The loss of this man and the fact that this 'Thamprakkal' is the last one to be called a Thamprakkal has slowly dawned on us.

We hope the present and future generations will be able to do justice to the family and man by at least sharing the stories for the humanity.

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