Parassinikkadavu Sree Muthappan Temple

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Parassinikkadavu Sree Muthappan Temple

Parassinikkadavu Sree Muthappan Temple

This is the one of the few temples where theyyam is performed through out the year.

Timing of Muthuppan and ThiruvappanaTheyyams at Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple : Every Year early morning and evening. Thiruvappana Theyyam is not performed on the following days

Thulam 1st to Vrischikam 15th every year.
Amaavasi (new moon) day of Karkkitakam and Thulam.
“Nira” day of the temple.
When there is a death in the Madappura family.

Sree Muthappan Theyyam Legend

SREE MUTHAPPAN is the Hunter God of Kerala, the benevolent protector who speaks to the devotees through a human medium like the oracle of Bhagavati-a local version of Mother Goddess Durga. His name literally means father’s elder brother and this presiding deity of Parassinikkadavu, is the God of the common man of North Kerala. The temple dedicated to this God rests on an idyllic spot on the bank of Valapattanam River, flanked on two sides by undulating hills and tropical vegetation. The river bank fringed with thickets of swaying coconut palms lends a graceful charm to the landscape. This is Parassinikkadavu, twenty kilometers away from Kannur. In the old days when there was no road transportation, the river facilitated the flow of endless pilgrim traffic to and from the Madappura. They came by country boats and canoes propelled by paddles. Worshiping a village God or Grama Devatha is an ancient practice that began with animism and stayed on with the advent and influence of Hinduism. The villagers would propitiate the spirits that became the guardian deities of the village, protecting the people from ill intentioned evil omens. Gradually elaborate rituals grew around these beliefs, as did the power of magic, sacrifice, sorcery, and divination of omens. The human incarnation of the Lord is dressed elaborately and distinctively. The basic colors are spectacular contrast of red and white very much like an early Kathakali character. The Thirumudi, a fish shaped headgear studded with wooden embellishments, mirror chips and tinsel are highly evolved forms. The character Thiruvappana is also adorned with armlets, upper armbands, breast pieces and tasseled mirror works waistbands, all of which combine to create an enormous and heavy apparel. The make-up is meticulously done and takes four to five hours to apply. This is known as ‘Thriuvathu Oppikkal’,in the impersonator’s dialect. Because of the weight he carries, this costumed representative of the God takes a rather ponderous dignity. The headgear of Vellattam is a layer upon layer of plaited straw decorated with Chekki Poovu-lxora Javanika and Tulasi-the holy Basil-Ocimum Sanctum with many decorative ornaments pinned and tied on it, symbolizing Lord Siva’s matted locks, Goddess Ganga and the crescent Moon. His posture with bow and arrows in one hand, is unmistakably and early form of Theyyam, another form of worship in Kerala. The human medium is severely austere before he embodies the Lord and gradually enters into a divine trance. The rhythmic footwork as he hops and swirls is appropriate in portraying the Hunter God. Sometimes the brisk movement becomes light and soft, creating a mood of loved and compassion and then, using the sword, dancing with frenzy to the resonant to the resonant beat of Chenda, takes the dance to its crescendo. This inspiration fuses with the ecstasy of the devotees who bow with folded hands before the manifestation of the Lord. As dusk descends, oil wick lamps flicker and the solo performance of Vellatam is solemnized. Muthappan relaxes on a Peedam, a sturdy stool made out of wood and surrounded by his dogs, goes into a trance. The attending Madayan, offers Paan-betel leaves and coconut flower sap fermented into toddy or distilled into arrack, which is drank in a small Kindi-a conventional bronze mug with a spout. Offerings of Oottunchor or boilded rice with coconut scrapings, ghee, block pepper and barbecued fish called Koppad in the Lord’s dialect, are placed on banana leaves before him, known as Payynkutti, this is an important offering. Around midnight, the devotees sing Kalakkapaattu or the invocatory verses dedicated to the Lord as a prologue to the dual performance of Thiruvappana and Vellattam. A mosaic of myth and legend based on a folk rhythm is set to specific modes, the providing the occasional link in the narration. The majestic Thriuvappana appears just before dawn, silver shells cover his eyes and he walks hand and hand with Vellattam who acts as his guide. The Kalasakkaran, the lesser Madayan carrying a large earthen pot covered with layers of the leaf stalks that cover the stem of the plantain tree, containing Madhu-toddy and a towering outfit decorated with Champakam flowers (Michila Champka) walks backwards facing Thiruvappana and Vellattam. This is Kalasam Ezhunallathu or the solemn procession.

Legend has it that Ayyankara Illam, a childless Nambudiri Brahmin family, had spent decades praying for a child. After a long time, they found an abandoned infant by the riverside on Thirunetti Kallu. They brought him up as their own. As the child grew up, he began to mingle freely with all castes, enjoyed hunting with friends and began to eat meat. He moved about with Neelakkarimapana Villu-Bow and Neelathil Mukkiya Ambuarrow. He killed Wood Pigeon, Gray partridge, Grouse Red Jungle Fowl, the Little Ringed Plover, Sand Piper, the Common Snipe, Rock Dove and Water Fowl, brought the meat to the Illam, roasted it on incandescent charcoal and started eating. The strong smelling smoke polluted the Illam atmosphere. His heartbroken foster-mother Paadikutty Andarjanam, took the young man to task. During this interrogation, Lord Siva appeared in his hunter’s manifestation. As he bid his foster-mother farewell, she enjoined upon him to remain blindfolded to avoid fits of anger. He prayed for the strength to fulfill this task and after blessing his foster-mother, he assured everyone of his divine presence on the river bank and left. The present Madappura stands at this hallowed spot on the river bank. According to ancient belief, Thiruvappana is identified with Vishnu and Vellattam with Siva. Realizing that Muthappan was undergoing severe hardships during this ordeal, Lord Vishnu appeared in the forest enjoying Madhu, the divine nectar and offered a helping hand to Lord Vishnu. These two divine powers blend into a supreme celestial power embellishing the sanctity of Prassinikkadavu Madappura. Another legend has that Muthappan was worshiped by the tribals of the Northern sector of the Western Ghats, Kunnathurpaadi, the point of no return. This is the cave where the headman of Adiyaanmar, Aalaayaattu Moothoran Chandan and his devoted wife Kallayidodi Adiyaathi worshipped Muthappan offering plam toddy, boiled pulses, barbecued fish, coconut pieces, in reverence and piety. It is also believed that Muthappan visited Puralimala, Harichandra Kotta and the seashore of Kannapuram. Another interesting legend centres around a mysterious arrow which was discovered by Thalee Paruvannan, a sub-cast, whilst he was angling with a hook and bait. The arrow was given to the Karavanur, the head of Kunnummal Tharawad, a Thiya joung family, who decided to enshrine the godsend gift. At this shrine-Madappura, daily rituals began and aboce said Vannaan family inherited the rights to be the temple sponsored impersonators for Vellattan and Thiruvappana performances. Both the families have a matrilined lineage or Marumakkatham but the authority rest with the presiding Madayan. Yet another interesting ritual to Muthappan is the exploding of firearms, usually muskets, in fulfillment of Shikari’s vows for the success of a huntiong expendition. Kodavas of kodagu form a large portion of the pilagrims to Parassinikkadavu and considering their warlike and hunting background, they have rightly adopted the Hunter God as their tutelary deity. It is customary for the local Moplahs or the Muslims of Kerala who float timber and rafts of bamboo, in Valapattanam River, to make offerings to Muthappan Daivam.  Brahmanical rituals are performed by a priest on the last day of the Malayalam months. In early December, the sixteenth day of Vrischikam the 4th month of Malayalam Ara, the Utsavam or major Annual Festival is celebarated. All Parassinikkadavu bound buses are packed, coming from all derections, disgorging masses of people. The road leading to the temple becomes veritably a bazaar with tradesmen peddling their wares. The lane leading to the temple is full of teashops offering a variety of delicious dishes. Breakfast, usually rice, is light and sholesome; Puttu, a steamed rice flour dish is eaten with coconut scrapings, banana and sugar. Appem is another rice and coconut preparation fermented with toddy and made into a spongy pancake with crispy lacy frills eaten with coconut kilk and sugar or Iddiappam, rice flour pressed through a mould to resemble fine strings and then steamed, are some of the dishes offered. Another popular breakfast item is a rice and dal combination like idli and dasa accompanied by coconut chutey and sambar. Lunch and supper are unpolished rice, fish curry and vegetables, evering tea is accompanied by boiled green gram with coconut pieces topped with a plantain. A non-vegetarin delicacy is stewed clams, a shellfish with hinged shell, from Valapattanam river. Food is served on banana leaf, the tip of the leaf placed to the left of the diner. Devotes of all castes and beliefs come in hundreds and throng the courtyard. They are given generous quantities of Prasadam or sacred ashes as Muthappan bestows his blessings upon all his devotes. A small, unassuming, comely structure, the Madappura is under a reinforced concrete terraced superstructure, surrounded by sprawling old building which provide the devotees with free food and ladging, The facilities are available to all alike regardless of whether or not one chooses to make an offeing. There are no middlemen nor touts and the devotees are never asked as to what offerings they wish to make or what pooja they wish to perform. The atmosphere of warm hospitality makes one fell genuinely welcome. The rituals are held at a nominal tariff, well within the reach of the common man. By providing free food and accommodation for all who come to worship, the Madappura authorities have preserved the age-old tradition of the great Hunter God. Muthappan ordains that his devotees be taken care of. He assures the presiding Madayan not to worry about, day to day expenses, as they will be replenished. An act of implicit faith, Parassinikkadavu reaffirms its tenacity and strength. Some things never change, of these two are Prassinikkadavu Madappura and Sree Muthappan.

Prayers and Offerings to Sree Muthappan

The meaning of the word ‘Vazhipaadukal’ is Vazhipaaduka or submit reverentally. This means that we have submitted to God. Muthappan Daivam was consecrated at Kunnummal Tharawd of a Thiyan. This house is known as Madappura, considering its hallowed nature, it is known as a Modom. This must have got transformed into Madappura. The Kshethram and the deity belong to the members of the said family. The Karanavar or the presiding uncle is the most important representative of God. He is titled Madayan. On ordinary days, it is the Madayan, a member of the Thiya community who performs the Pooja rites. Tantric rites at the Madappura are however performed by the members of Poondattam Illam. Besides the days of Sankramam-the passing of a planet from one sign of the Zodiac to another-on six to seven occasions the nambudiri-a Malayalee Vaishnavite Brahmin performs Punnyaaham – sprinkles consecrated water and performs purifactory rites. Till this Pooja gets over, no fish or meat is brought in the precincts of the Madappura. When the Nambudiri or the Madayan performs Pooja rites, the devotees can worship in the normal course.  Members of all caste and creed including foreigners, make offerings. It is doubted whether there is a temple anywhere in the country where believers of all faiths worship. Though the Madappura Authorities have no stipulation as to which offering is to be made, the offerings usually made are given below;

  • Thiruvappana
  • Karinkalasam
  • Oottu Vellattam
  • Payankutti Vellattam
  • Payankutti
  • Vilakkum Maala

The above-mentioned offerings have been decided without any basis. These have been mentioned in the age-old Thottam Lyrics. Though the costs of various commodities have drastically increased, there had been no change in the above-mentioned tariff. Money orders are regularly received by the Madappura Authorities and Prasadam – sacred ashes are received by the devotees in return, by post. On ordinary days, the Nada or the door of the Sree Kovil – the Sanctum Sanctorum opens at 4’o clock in the morning. By that time, worshippers would have croweded the courtyard of the Madappura. During Pooja time, Thottam Lyrics are chanted. At its end, it iis Muthappan’s ritual dance sequence. Each and every dovotee offers Dakshin to Sree Muthappan, according to their ability and narrated their woes and worries, Muthappan patiently listens and advises them ‘Panippaadu’. The divine utterances of Muthappan are like the commands of a Velichapad – the Oracle or Shamanic priest of some Durga – Mother Goddess temple. After hearing these utterance, the worshippers leave with their faces glowing with satisfaction. In the night, between 8 and 9’o clock, there will be impersonation and ritualistic dance. At noon also, these things take place. The Nada or the door of the Sanctum remains open till midnight. On days of special significance, rituals take place throughout day and night.

Kottiyoor Perumal and Muthappan

The relationship Sree Muthappand had with Kottiyoor Perumal depended on certain facts and are not mere fables. The famous Kottiyoor Kshethram exists on the easternmost extremity of Thalasserry Tapluk. This is a Devaswom with plenty of landed property and other assets, managed by the members of Nair Community. In Kottiyoor also the idol is that of Loord Siva. For performing Elanneer Abhishekam – ablution with tender coconut water, members of the Thiya community have got their importance and prominence. This is of special significance. Prior to the beginning of Utsavam or the Annual Festival, and at the end of the festival, the representative of Muthappan has to go and perform abhishkam or ablution to the deity by using the folded leaf of Koova Arrowroot – Javanese Canna glauca – as a leaf bowl. Later on Nambudirikal, Naalu veettu Nayanmar who are the temple trustees, also arrive there. The representative of Muthapan “Purangalayan” is given tow Panam Dakshina and takes charge of the Manithara – the dwelling place of Kottiyoor Perumal. Dakshina is a gift offered to Brahmins, venerable persons or deities. Later on Purangalayan – Muthappan was at Puralimala near Mattannur, in Thalasserry taluk. It was when Paadikutty Amma, the wife of Ayyangarayappan was taking her bath in Thiruvanchira (Kottiyoor) that she found Muthappan. He was found as an ordinary child. Paddikutty Amma brought up the child, who in due course of time started developing a craving for non-vegetarian food and liquor. He moved about with Neelakkarimbana Villu-bow and Neelathil Mukkiya Ambu-Arrow; he killed Muttennu Pullu-Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, Gray Partidge, Red Jungle Fowl, Grouse, spotted Crake and the Common Snipe, and the common Crane. He used to cook the meat on a barbecue and relish it along with copious quantity of liquor. Ayyangrayappan considered the presence of Muthappan as a source of annoyance. Because of this, Paadikutty Amma had to get rid of her fosterson, Muthapand. But Muthappan was not frustrated. Carrying Bow and arrows he traveled thorugh Kunnathur Paadi and ultimately reached Puralimala. He lived in Puralimala for a long period and gained the status of a Lord or Protector of Harichandra Kotta or Fort. Enrout Puralimala, Muthappan stealthily drank liquor of Aalayaattu Moothoran Chandan. He climbed Madhupan Pana-toddy yielding plam-Palmyra, took plam toddy and started drinking. When Chandan corfronted Muthappan, he cursed him and destined him to become a stony mass. Later on, satisfied with the devotion of Chandan’s wife Kaalayikodi Adiyaathi who vowed to offer Payankutti using Vecharingaadu-boiled pulses-Van payar, Cherupayar, Tuvara, Kadala, Blackgram, Koppad (dried Mackerel, shark and Mullan-Minnows), pieces of Coconut Kernel, Toddy and Arrack. Chandan was given a fresh lease of life. Seeing this divine act every body realized that Muthappan was a divine figure and thereafter he vanished. This is the summary of what had been mentioned in Thottam Lyrics. The Utsavam or the Annual Festival falls on the 16th of Vrishikam the 4th month of Malayalam Era or say December 1st during Sarat Rithu-the month of Tulam and Vrishikam (October-November) when the rains had receded and the severty of the sun is not there. Durint the Annual Festival or Utsavam, thousands of Devotees from far and near rush to Parassinikadavu. It is doubted whether there is any other temple in North Malabar where devotees gather in such large numbers for worship.  The Sree Kovil or the Sanctum Sanctorm of the Madappura is an unassuming structure and two idols made out of Pancha Loha – a five metal alloy, are consecrated her. The Prasadam or the remnants of the offerings to God, are sacred ashes instead of sandal paste. Devotes of all castes and creed visit the Madappura and receive Prasadam. At the Madappura, free food is offered to the devotees. Muthappan insists that there should be nodevotee with and empty stomach. A major portion of the daily income is utilized for giving free food to the devotees, Strudents of the near by schools are given free food from the Madapurra. The Madathipathi lives as an exemplary person under the divine influence of Sree Muthappan.  The writer had come across hundreds of Jawans-soldiers who had come direct to the Madappura from the battlefields to make their offerings, which they had vosed, for the protection given to them in the battlefield.  In the past, Paracheengakkadavu Madappura existed as, a Sree Kovil known as Podi Kalam with a thatched roof with straw. These days, once or twice, only the personification of Sree Muthappan in Theyyam Form was organized. Thos days and old man, living in an out of the way village, to the East of Taliparamba expperinced severe pain in the eyes and loss of eyesight. He prayed to offer two silver sham eyes to Parassinikkadavu Muthappan, in case he did not lose his eyesight.
For the old man who was cured of his disease, it took a few years to fulfil his vows. When infirmity affected him, the old man called his son and told him of his indebtendness. On a Sankarama day, after lunch, the father and the son started off for Parassinikkadavu to witness the Vvellattam ritual at dusk and make the votive offering. With the help of a walking stick, the old man walked in front and his son followed him and on reaching the place now called Dharmasaala,the old man got fully exhausted, While he moved standing and sitting at various places, seeing that darkness had swept Maangaattu Parambu which was full of thickets, the old man feared that Muttappan might dismount his Thiru Mudi-Headgear before he dould reach the Madapura, the old man lamented. In this birth he may not be in a position to find another occasion to visit the Madappura, the old man wiped his tears. It is after a long time that he could venture to visit Parassinikkadavu and fulfil his vows and to pay his respects to the deity. But when he thought that his wish will not bear fruit, his feet started trembling more. Behind the old man who was struggling to walk chanting holy verses, his son walked slowly. T console his father, the son tried his utmost. Where as at Parassinikkadavu Devasthanam, even after the beationg of the drums had reached a crescendo, Muthappan was relaxed, seated on the Peedham as if he was waitiong for the arrival of some ond important. The presiding Madayan, the lesser Madayanmar and the devotees stood astonished without knowing what was behind this. To the Presiding Madayand who enquired with folded hands, the reason for not dismountiong the headgear, Vellattam said that he had to wait for sometime more since he was expectiong the arrival of Dakshina, from an important devotee. Saying these words Bhagavan moved about leisurely to while away time. Yes! In the said circumstances, and air of tranquility prevailed. After a while, and old man was seen coming towards the river bank holding the hand of his son. The old man washed his feet in river and when he saw the divine figure, he could not hold back his tears of ecstasy. He prostrated before the divine form he longed to see, sobbing all the while. The glow of the oil wick lamps got brighter and the drumming reached a crescendo; Saying the words ‘I was waiting for your arrival, Bhagavan blessed him by putting Thulasi leaves on his head. Vellatam received the silver replica of the eyes as votive offerings from the old man.

The Pangs of Separation

Though at Madappurakkal, the places of worship of Sree Muthappan, two divine forms appear; but at Kunnathurpaadi, they appear separately. The circumstances that lead tothis state, is all the more interestion. When Bhagavan left Ayyangarara Illam, with sham eyes, forgoing his eyesight, as desired by Paddikutty Andarjanam, was in real human form. He confronted hardships and had to submit to many difficulties, of his own accord. Sree Maha Vishnu was prompted to assume an illusory form by Parameswaran who assumed another form reached the forest availing the rare occasion he had received for drinking Madhu-the divine Nectar and came across blind Vishnu who was wandering. This is according to mythical legends. Whereas one day when both were in the forest for the sake of enjoying Madhu, seeing a wild elephant Sree Parameswaran who was standing at a distance got bewildered. Bhagavan Narayanan, who knew everything, blessed the pachyderm and drove it away. Sree Parameswaran who was humorous by nature stood astonished seeing this scene from a distance. He addressed his associate who came for his help as ‘Cherukkan,’Parameswaran who reached close by, was addressed as ‘Nayanar,’as atonement towards the feeling of offence, they decided that at Kunnathur Mala mountain they should appear singularly. This is vaguely mentioned in ancient legends. May be out of devotion or out of logic, the above said legends are fascinating, making one believe that it is not completely imaginary. Though is was decided not to meet at Paadi, Sree Parameswaran who was in the form of Vellattam, did not have the desire to leave Kunnathoor Mala-mountain, Thriuvappan who appeared with bow and arrow, in front of Vellattam who was perplexed said these words. ‘Look, I am propelling this arrow, wherever it lands up, we can meet once again. Without having the courage to say a word, Vellattam returned. Bidding farewell to the forest where Vellattam and enjoyed liquor to his heart’s content and where he had been running about in a playful and jubilant manner, he descended, the steps one after the other and moved away. Crossing the forest and river, Bhagavan wandered a few days with the feeling of loss, and finally arrived at the thickets of Paracheenga at the river bank and came across the hallowed arrow, which was lying, on the stump of a Kaanjiram-the Nux Vomica tree. This place later on came to be known as Attinkara and Paracheenikkadavu. Even now, the daily rituals indicate that the administrative power and control rest with Vellattam. The reason is that from the place of origin, though the deity returned with some reluctance, such a beautiful place was selected and Thiruvappana wearing sham eyes is made to descend the hill after midnight and extending hospitality, is all done by Vellattam only! Thiruvappana wearing sham eyes is made to descend the hill after midnight and extending hospitality, is all done by Vellatam only! Thiruvappana, who is the sole authority at Kunnathurpaadi, conducts investigations and imposes punishments and becomes the Protector out of own will. But at Parassinikkadavu, without consulting Cherukkan who is in Vellattam from, no decision is taken. The reason is that Vellattam who appears at dusk, after inspecting the entire area, gets ready to prepare the feast for the deity who appears in the morning. The diety is received with Madhu Kumbam, the pot made out of clay, full of toddy, and Taalapoli-platters having flowers and lamps, and the harmonious sound produced by a set of musical instruments. The deity is then made to sit. Though it is with a sense of atonement, that Thiruvappana seeks the opinion of Vellattam in many matters, it is when he reaches Parassinikkadavu that he makes it apparent that he is blind. (Courtesy : Author:K V Jayaram)

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