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"Maattutukkal" is a part of the traditional cleansing ("Sudhhi") after a period of "Asudhhi" (impurity) [click here for "Sudhhaasudhham"] on account of birth, death, women's periods ("Aarthavam"), etc. "Maattu" is actually the dress washed by the "Mannaan" community ("Vannaan" or "Velan") [fem. gender - "Mannaathy", "Vannaathy", "Velathy"], and worn temporarily during the bathing process, when defiled clothes (and other articles) are immersed in water, urgently washed by the Mannaan (Mannaathy) and reworn by the person. Other communities such as "Kshathriyar", "Ambalavaasis", "Soodrar" and "Eezhvar" ("Theeyar") also used to practice Maattutukkal, and incidentally, the Mannaan was a direct link between all such communities. Such bathing process after Pula (defilement) [click here for Defilement caused by Birth and Death of a Relative] is termed "Thalichu-Kuli" among Nairs and Theeyar.

It is because the usual washerman community of "Veluthedan" (fem. gen : "Veluthedathy" - washerwoman) themselves get polluted upon touching clothes defiled during Aarthavam, Pula, etc., that such washing is entrusted to the so-called much lower caste, Mannaan community. Namboothiris have to take bath after touching Mannaan-washed clothes, but not Veluthedan-washed ones.

The "Thullineeru Veezhthal" [click here for "Sudhhaasudhham" and see item no. 7, Menstruation] at the end of the first ever menses uses Maattu three times during the cleansing bath. Almost a similar procedure is adopted after delivery starting with Thullineeru Veezhthal in the "Nadumittam" (central quadrangle). The process is cut short with bathing only for the first and last days, and replaced by sprinkling water on the face and feet the remaining eight days.

Maattu and Death

When a person dies while observing Pula with "Udakakriya", he/she should be clothed in Mannaathi Maattu, touched and bathed ("Thottu Kuli"), the process repeated as many times as the remaining Pula days. In case of non-Udakakriya Pula and other Asudhhis, Veluthedathy Maattu is adequate, and used three times. In case of "Punyaaha Sudhham" Pula, Punyaaham [click here] is to be performed after the Pula bath on the 11th day, Maattu having been worn on the previous (10th) day, after performing Udakakriya. For double Pula, double Maattu is necessary, while Maattu is not needed at all in case of birth-Pula.


Any community could punish with Maattu-Virodham for a certain period, anyone who commits serious offence by breaking caste traditions. The person and the family would then be socially boycotted for a specific period of time. Coupling it with "Panthi Virodham" is a heavier punishment, i.e., they will not be permitted to eat with the rest of the community. The person and the family will not be invited for feasts. "Maattum Ettum" ("Maattu" and "Ettu") is still a heavier punishment which is nothing but excommunication from the community. All these are connected to "Maattu" and are general to any Hindu sub-caste, and Namboothiris were not exempted. (For Namboothiris, whether "Smaarthvichaaram" [click here] was done before "Maattum Ettum" is not known).

| Article No:8.3.1 | Last update of this article:1st March 2011 |
Article by :
(1) Adv. B Agnisarman Namboodiri, Athrasseri Mana, P.O.: Trikkalathur, 683 557, Ernakulam Dist., Phone: 0484-2653569 &
(2) P Vinod Bhattathiripad, Polpaya Mana, Thiruthiyad, Calicut - 673 004, Tel: 0495-2720522 (R), 94470-60066 (M)

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