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Panniyoor - Sukapuram Conflict

Of the 32 Graamams of the Malayalam region, several of the renowned ones are situated along the Nila river (Bhaaratha Puzha). Foremost among them in every respect were the Panniyoor Graamam spread on the western part of the river, and Sukapuram along the eastern part. Panniyoor used to be the most prominent in Kerala, though it degenerated later. The third and the last four Grihams of the highly placed "Ashtagrihathil Aadhyans" (Kala - Me - Maa - Kulu - Chem - Paa - Muri - Vella) [Click here for Classes of Namboothiris] belonged to it, while only the remaining three were in Sukapuram Graamam.

The bickering within and among the various Graamams that were going on, were suppressed through the introduction of the great festival of "Maamaankam", the establishment of the "Mahaa-Jana-Sabha" (great assembly of the people), the division of Malayalam region into four "Kazhakams", and the appointment of Vaal-Nambis for each Kazhakam for three-year periods, elected by the respective Jana Sanghams (Kazhakoottam). Payyannur, Panniyoor, Paravur and Chengannur were the four Kazhakams. The Vaal-Nambi of Panniyoor, the Kakkaat family of Vella Griham, did not deviate from righteousness, even while the other three were involved in high-handed activities. Yet, conflicts developed between Panniyoor and Sukapuram, initiated by the latter. Intervention by the leaders of the Mahaa-Jana-Sabha reduced it to the level of healthy competition. The Kaipancheri family of Maathur Griham was appointed as the supreme authority in Panniyoor; and Aazhvaancheri Thampraakkal (Kulukkallur Griham) in Sukapuram. They became the protectors of all the four Kazhakams; and every Malayaalee Braahmanan owed allegiance either to Sukapuram or to Panniyoor Graamam. They were even assigned differences in dress, food and other matters, and their competitive spirit was encouraged to a healthy level. It was also decided that all Malayaalees should be devotees of Varaaha-Moorthy of Panniyoor, assigned as the "Paradevatha" of the entire Mahaa-Jana-Sabha. The Vaal-Nambi of Panniyoor was of course in the forefront to enact these regulations.

In spite of all such efforts, Sukapuram and Panniyoor re-started their old unhealthy rivalry, and the independence of the Namboothiri authorities began to decline. When the conflict with the scholastically superior Sukapuram became excessive, some of the Panniyoor scholars went outside ("Paradesam", mainly Tamil Naadu) to pursue studies, and even tried to bring their teacher (Guru) and have him settle down here, quite against the dictates of the Varaaha-Moorthy deity. Since the initiative for all these came from some of the prominent Ooraalans, the silent majority could do nothing to stop it, with the result that many migrated in groups to other Graamams. Those from Maathur Griham went and joined Perumanam Graamam, Pazhoor went to Moozhikkulam, Muringoth to Vedanaat, Vella to different Graamams, and Chemmangaat, Kakkaat and Maravancheri to nearby Sukapuram. Only a handful of families like Vella and Thirumasseri preferred to stay, perhaps owing to their strong rivalry with Sukapuram.

Meanwhile, the Saamoothiri of Kozhikode, assisted by the Muslim traders who had landed along the west coast, acquired the leadership in "Maamaankam". It was from them that the Saamoothiri came to be called "Kunnalakkonaathiri". He took over the leadership of the leftover families of Panniyoor, and lowered their status, which gladdened the Sukapuram people. Sukapuram's support of Saamoothiri that ensued was, in a sense, recognition of Panniyoor "Koor" (loyalty). Aazhvaancheri Thampraakkal of Sukapuram Graamam, and Varikkumaancheri (Varikkaasseri) of Kalankandathur Griham were privileged people during the coronation ("Sthhaanaarohanam") of Saamoothiripad; Thekkiniyedath Kiraangat and Chittur Avanaavu, both of Peruvanam Graamam, Poomulli and Kaipancheri Thampraakkal, both of Maathur Griham, all became supporters of the Saamoothiri; and no doubt, the Panniyoor leader, Kothara family was quite grateful to the Saamoothiri.

After over four and a half centuries of governance by the Perumaals - the Kshathriya princes brought for the purpose from Paradesam, Tamil Naadu, during around 114 BC - 342 AD, or Kalivarsham 2988 to 3444 - Eraad Perumpadappu took the place of Perumaal. It was agreed then that Perumpadappu Mootha-Kovil will wear the Perumaal's old crown at Pookkaithakkal temple of Vanneri (south of Ponnani), and proceed to the Maamaankam site, where Samoothiripad will offer him the prime seat (Maanya-Sthhaanam). But the Panniyoor people, along with their leader, the Saamoothiripad, would cleaverly thwart his wearing of the crown, while the Sukapuram leaders would also spare no effort to crown him.

Those people of the Vella Griham who had not left Panniyoor, and especially the Namboothiri king of Thiruvasseri Kotta (castle), lent unconditional support to the Saamoothiri, and even gave away a part of his land, Ponnani, to him. This was where the Samoothiri later tactfully brought and settled the Muslims, making it their main trading centre, and even built a large mosque for them.

It would be a couple of centuries after the last of the Perumaals, around 564 AD, that the Panniyoor Graamam people would burn and destroy the Varaaha-Moorthy idol!

| Article No:2.4.1 | Last update of this article:7th February 2003 |
Source : "Kunjikkuttan Thampuraante Gadya Lekhanangal" (Essays : by Kodungalloor Kunjikkuttan Thampuraan)

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