Perar and Pakkanar

Perar or Bharathapuzha at Tritala. Tritala regulator-cum-bridge in the background

The myth of the ancient aboriginal  Paraya woman giving birth to the whole clans and communities in the river basin of Bharathapuzha or Perar (Parayi-petta-pathirukulam) articulates multiple truths regarding the heterologies of the region as far as Valluvanad and Vannerinad are concerned.  Historians and anthropologists assert the fact that the Paraya were one of the ancient settlers in south India.  As the “Out of Africa” theory that situates the whole human race in the womb of an ancient black mother, the Parayi myth traces the origin of the Kerala people to an ancient aboriginal Paraya woman who inhabited the banks of the ancient Perar.

Great Banyans by the Perar between Kudallur and Tritala

The legendary Pakkanar who immortalized the subaltern legacy along the river Perar was also a child of the ancient aboriginal woman.  His ancestral household and family called Eerattingal is still found in Tritala on the river bank.  I visited this ancient family and their temple in memory of Pakkanar in the afternoon of May 5, 2012.  The current elder Mr Pakkan told me about the oral tales related to Pakkanar.  According to him Pakkanar redirected the course of the river for the installation of the family deity, the goddess. His staff was a pole from a Kanjira tree and when he passed away it was planted on the river bank and it grew into a new tree.  A huge and old Kanjira tree is still found by the river that is revered as a memorial for Pakkanar.

The huge Kanjiram that is worshiped as a Pakkanar memorial by the Perar at Tritala

Along with Pakkanar the temple deities include Eerattu Kutty, Chathan and Bhagavathy.  The idol of the goddess in rough granite style closely resemble the posture of the Sapta Kanyas found in Krishnapuram palace museum.   The local deities like Chathan and Kutty also show remarkable linkages to the corrupt form of Buddhist worship.  It is clear that the family and people were one of the earliest inhabitants of the region and the family has witnessed various waves of cultural invasions and influences over the ages.  In the discussion I urged the elder to record and publish the family legends and regional heterology to resist hegemonic appropriations and reversals.

Pakkan the current elder of Eerattingal family talking before the Pakkanar temple, Tritala


Changeable Hawk Eagle of Thrikanapuram

Changeable Hawk Eagle, Thrikanapuram on the banks of Perar. May 1, 2012

Thrikanapuram is an ancient cultural site on the southern bank of Perar or Bharathapuzha.  Kuttippuram bridge connects it with Kuttippuram on the northern bank.  Thrikanapuram is distinguished for its sacred groves and shrines.  It houses some of the ancient grove-shrines like Papini Kavu.  The similarity in place names to Papini Vattam and Thrikanamathilakam (or Mathilakam) near Kodungallur that are situated at the mouth of Periyar towards the south is remarkable.

Papini Kavu, Thrikanapuram

Thrikanamathilakam is also called Thirukunavayil Kottam and was an ancient Jain cultural centre and university till the 8th century.  Papini Vattam was an ancient Jain nunnery later condemned as the ‘temple of sinners’  (Papini means accursed witches and Vattam denotes a Sramana shrine) by Brahmanism. It is evident that Thrikanapuram in Malappuram district on the southern banks of the Perar was an ancient Jain cultural centre like Thrikanamathilakam near the mouth of the Periyar in Thrissur district.

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Thrikanapuram

In the evening of May Day 2012 I visited this ancient laterite plateau rising up to 100 meters from the river bed.  Near the Papini Kavu I could see a huge hawk being chased by crows.  I got a few shots of this big raptor and it escaped into the dying light of the evening salvaging itself from the crows.  The long pronounced crest and tail bands of the bird were clear.  The out-thrown wings and swooping flight of the raptor was amazing and awesome.  On returning I found it to be a Changeable Hawk Engle with the field books.

Sunset at Thrikanapuram. Thirunavaya on the northern banks in the horizon