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Vettakkorumakan Paattu

This ritual is performed mostly by Namboothiris authorised for the purpose. Literally meaning "song in praise of the son born during a hunting trip", this sacred and colourful ritual is seen confined to the northern parts of central Kerala - Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. Vettakkorumakan (Vettekkaran, for short) deity is found in most Namboothiri Manas or in common temples where there are a number of Namboothiri homes in the neighbourhood. In northern Malabar, the ritual takes the form of Theyyam with a lower level of rituals (without Sathwika Pooja). Vettakkorumakan diety at the Kota Temple in Balussery near Kozhikode district is considered as prime center of all Vettakkorumakan dieties in Kerala.

The deity worship is done either as the son of Kirathan or as his "Vapuss" (body), with a difference in the base hymns (Manthrams).

In order to teach a lesson to Arjuna, who had become too proud of his abilities, Siva and Parvathy go in disguise as tribal hunters to where he was doing penance (Thapas). A boy is born to the couple during the hunting trip. The boy becomes extreamely naughty and disturbs the peace of the people including saints. Based on their request, Mahavishnu also disguises as a hunter and humbles the boy, gives him a dagger (Churika) and, when eventually pleased, and blesses him.

This ritual is performed in order to get peace of mind. Symbolically, the various elements in the story can be related through "Yoga Saasthram", and "Kundalinee" to the state and workings of the mind.

Performed during the early part of the night, it begins with "Moolakkal Paattu" (also called Mullackal Paattu, by mistake), which is symbolically invoking the deity from its base position, outside the environment of house, with appropriate rites and accompanied by drums and music. After this, the oracle (Velichapaadu - mostly Namboothiris, in this case) carries the idol to the temple riding an elephant and accompanied by the drumming and music with special lyrics. The oracle now represents the deity and wears a red dress (Thattuduthu Pattuchutty) and red flower garland.

The oracle performs a peculiar dance with the accompaniment of drums. This is called "Eedum Koorum". Having two specialist drummers (Maaraars) ensures correct method of drumming (Chenda rhythms similar to the one in Thaayambaka or Thodayam in Kathakali). Usually he completes at least two "Eedu" and three "Kooru".

The specialist artist (Kallattu Kurup, a sub - caste) would have by then completed a large colourful picture of Vettakkorumakan with colour powders (white, yellow, red and green) in Thekkini (a southern room or hall in the Mana). The oracle then slowly steps around (Kalapradakshinam) this figure in special rhythms, completing at least seven rounds (representing seven "Kundalinee" cycles) and then leaves the venue. The Kurup sings a number of songs in praise of the god, after which the oracle returns, cuts the cordon around the figure with dagger, enters on to the figure and dances (Kalam Kaanuka). Later he goes to the pond, bathes, returns, cuts the hanging decorative palm-leaves (symbolic of cutting the forest, removing the dirt in the mind) with the dagger and slowly and rhythmically erases the figure.

The final item is for the oracle to break unhusked coconut by throwing them on a stone slab. Anywhere from three to twelve thousand coconuts may be broken continuously in a single sitting. Again, symbolically, this is supposed to be a form of surrender of the mental propensities and is done for the purpose of eliminating all troubles and problems of the family. The coconut represents head and the throw represents surrender. The fifty ganglias (controlling the fifty mental propensities) namely "Moolaadhaaram" (4), "Swaadhistthaanam" (6), "Manipooram" (10), "Anaahatham" (12), "Visudhi" (16), and "Aajna" (2), with each performing inside and outside the body, totally make up 100 instances. These 100 instances when performed in the ten different specific directions make the total instances one thousand. These thousand instances when performed in 12 difference zodiacs (Raasi) escalate the total figure to 12,000. This performance is known as "Pantheeraayiram" (twelve thousand). Believing that these 12,000 coconuts carry the mental problems of worshipers, they usually donate coconuts for this purpose.

Most of the authorised Namboothiri families to perform this colourful rite, exist even today. Some of the Namboothiri families authorised to perform this rite, for the benefit of others, are the Pariyaarath (near Kaadampuzha in Malappuram dt.), Erandapurathukaadu (near Pattambi in Palakkad dt), Orambrath(near Wandoor in Malappuram dt.), Kandamangalam, Vallivattam and Kalaasseri (all in Kozhikode dt). Non-Namboothiri castes performing this rite are Kaarol Panicker and Nairs.

| Article No:35.4 | Last update of this article:27th March 2003 |
Article prepared in Malayalam by Pariyaarath Raman Namboodiri.

English translation by K.D.Nambudripad.

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