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