Tuesday, 28 June 2011


The Notes have been posted as my Comments in BRP Bhaskar's Blog "Kerala Letter' on his blog post captioned 'Does Thazhamon family have a better story than Cheerappanchira and Malayarayans?' of May 28, 2011.

Alangad Yogam is the 'father's yogam'; and Ambalapuzha Yogam is the 'mother's yogam'. What connection does Ayyappan's father have with Alangad, and mother with Ambalapuzha?

Kesari Balakrishna Pillai's 'followers' tell the following story:
In one of his missions, Udayanan first plundered the Avalokiteswara Vihara for the treasures there and then proceeded to the Pandalam palace.

At the Pandalam palace, Kaampillil Panikkar was the Commander of the forces. He was thinking of retirement due to old age, and was training his son at the Palace, to take over.

At the time of Udayanan's attack, the younger Panikkar was away somewhere and the old Commander could not fight off Udayanan.

Udayanan overcame the Pandalam security and took away their Princess, who was the only sister of the King. Their mother had been married in from Ambalapuzha royalty.

After some hours, the younger Kaampillil Panikkar turned up and was grief-stricken to hear about the Princess' abduction. He immediately set off after Udayanan with his available assistants.

They reached Udayanan's camp at nightfall; and consensus was reached to attack at daybreak, for lack of light then.

However, the young Panikkar could not wait, presumed to be due to his emotions for the Princess. And he stole into the Camp alone, and managed to take off with the Princess in the darkness.

On their way back, the Princess who felt that her return would only cause loss of honour to the Royalty, and the consenting Panikkar decided not to return to the Palace, but to go into hiding and be together.

Pandalam was 'padma-dala-puram', with ten 'dalam's or villages; one of which was Ponnambalamedu in the forests. The romantic duo decided to settle at Ponnambalamedu, away from public view.

Eventually, they had a son, who grew up with the animals around, including tigers and leopards.

In one of his hunting expeditions some time later, the Pandalam king happened to pass Ponnambalamedu, and found his lost sister and former Commander-designate. The King requested them to return, and the couple refused. The King then demanded that his nephew, the heir to the throne be given to him. This had to be acceded to, and the King returned after the hunt with a son from the wilderness.

[Another version is that the King, enraged at the Commander-designate after hearing the story from the soldiers who returned to Pandalam, used to raid Ponnambalamedu often and was fought off by the Kampillil Panikkar. In the last expedition, Panikkar could not withstand; and the Royal party killed both parents of Ayyappa and set fire to the village. The King spared the child who was his blood-heir, and took him away with him to the palace.]

Kaampillil is a Nayar family at Muppathadom near Eloor in Ernakulam district. Muppathadom and the surrounding area were parts of the Alangad kingdom.

To get help against Udayanan later on, it was only natural for Ayyappan to go to Alangad and his father’s people. The subsequent story of the defeat of Udayanan in the combined attack by Alangad and Ambalappuzha yogam is known.

Dr.S.K.Nayar mentions Kaampillil Panikkar and Mulleppallil Nayar as being members of Ayyappan’s Alangad battallion. Mulleppalil is reportedly Dr.Nayar’s ancestors as well.

Two groups are now fighting in Court to be the Alangad Yogam, which position gives a lot of privileges at Sabarimala. One is at Manjapra, near Angamaly; and the other is at Alangad village itself. Both places were in Alangad kingdom in olden days. Manjapra group says that they are descendents of the Parvathyakar [pravarthyaar] of the Alangad Raja, entrusted with sending the Petta troupe to Sabarimala every year; and this right makes them the genuine Alangad Yogam. The Alangad set asks how people far away from Alangad village itself could be any Alangad Yogam.

I learned of the Kampillil connection from informal talk with both groups; and happened to learn of Kesari’s version only later on. I went to Muppathadom and met the current members of the family. They have an Ayyappa temple which the locals call the ‘original Alangad Yogam’.

The family has no male heir now. The 70 and above year old ladies that I talked to said that they are not interested in any Yogam recognition. One of them said her son had been the last male heir of the family. After the two other groups started fighting each other in Court over the title, one group sent goons after this heir though he was not involved in the title-battle. They attacked the house and terrorised the young man, who was a non-interfering KSEB worker. The trauma made him ill and he died soon after, while still in his thirties. ‘We don’t want any Yogam or its money, Sir; we want to be left alone’ were their words.

I had been to Cheerappan Chira also; and was only happy to hear their story that Ayyappan was their family member, that 3/4th of his divine powers are in their temple and that Sabarimala has only 1/4th. The 3/4th goes to Sabarimala for Makara Vilakku every year. I think that their selling their version stronger would help Arthunkal Palli also.

At the Arthunkal Palli nearby, I was told that 1. the then priest of the Church [Rev. Fr. Velutha] only recommended and got Ayyappan admitted into Cheerappan Chira Military Academy and 2. Arthunkal Palli was founded by Ayyappan’s first cousin and real son of Pandalam Raja. Sebastian had been the prince’s Christian name on conversion by Zabor Easo at Nilakkal. That is how Arthunkal Palli is ‘St.Sebastian’s Church’.

The Vellalas of Tamilnadu have in their own way, proved that Ayyappan was neither Nayar nor Eazhava; but is ‘Vellaalan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami’.

I write this impromptu and without preparation. By the way, did you ever read the 1920s-written Bhoothanaathopakhyaanam?

Kerala man sells wife for 15000 to buy drinks

Kochi: A man, who allegedly sold his wife for Rs 15,000 in Kerala's Kasaragod district to foot his liquor bills, has been arrested, police said Tuesday.

The arrest, two days ago, was on the basis of a complaint filed by the woman that her husband Prasad (29), a rubber tapper, had allegedly sold her to his close friend Manoj, also a rubber tapper, in January this year, they said.

He was later produced before a court and remanded to 14 days judicial custody. The woman had filed her complaint before the Hosdurg First Class Magistrate court following which the police had been directed to register a case and enquire.

The case was registered last month, Hosdurg Deputy SP Josy Cherian said. The woman, hailing from Choyyankod in northern Kasaragod district, had stated that the two men used to often consume liqour in their thatched house and she was allegedly raped after the money changed hands.

Police said they have no evidence about the money being paid by the second accused. Manoj, who is now absconding.

Manoj had been traced to Kollam by using the tower signals from his mobile, but he managed to give them the slip, police said. Kerala tops the list of states with the highest rate in per capita consumption of alcohol.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Woman techie alleges assault by moral police
Story Dated: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 17:58 hrs IST

Kochi: A woman techie returning from work was assaulted at Kakkanad here on Sunday night but police failed to take action on time.

Thasni Banu who works in IT company near Info Park, Kakkanad was returning after her shift when she was approached a group of people who showered abuses on her and assaulted her.

Thasni who was with a friend on a bike was slapped in the face by the men, according to her complaint. According to Thasni her assaulters were playing moral police and warned that the culture in Kochi is not the same as in Bangalore.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has now sought report from the city police regarding the incident.

Why do working women feel unsafe in Kerala?
1. Thank you for highlighting this news item on TV as well. 2. The culprits were drunk. If they had found the lady alone with no male escort, they would have taken her away and raped her somewhere. 3. The Police refused to register her complaint. If she had run into the Police Station alone at that time, it might have been the Police raping her, instead of the drunken goons. 4. The lady has a history of fighting NDF-Police earlier. She deserves an Award for bravery.
R.Sajan, Kochi , 21Jun'11 20:31:02

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Beggary on the wane in Kerala: Study
T.K. Devasia
14 June 2011
TRIVANDRUM - Beggary, once regarded as a huge social problem in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is on the wane.

A study by the Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) in the three cities of the state found a drastic fall in the number of people seeking alms on the streets. The beggars who were once seen everywhere have become a rare sight now.

A few who were traced by the study team in the cities of Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut were seen in better pastures with a paradigm shift in their dress, behaviour and modus operandi of begging.

As many as 65 per cent of the beggars were found in religious places, where arms are given as part of the religious ceremony. The beggars have found the religious places a safe haven since there they get not only money but also food and shelter.

“Nobody questions them or disturb them from begging. One cannot demarcate between a beggar and a religious devotee. Being a religious place they are safe and they use this place”, said the study report.

Interestingly, the study team could also spot able bodied and employed people among beggars at the religious places. One such person was a regular employee of the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. He had taken to begging by taking long leave from his office.

Dinesh Bhaskaran, regional director of the KSSM, said many people from the middle class were attracted to begging as they could easily earn Rs300 to Rs500 a day without doing any work. To earn this they need only to sit in one place for a few hours.

Another interesting finding of the study is that 41 per cent of the beggars seen in the cities were non-Keralites from outside the state. About 39 per cent of the beggars resorted to begging under the shade of religion.

Only nine per cent of the beggars had disability and 8 per cent mental and chronic illness that pushed many to begging earlier. Sixteen per cent of the beggars were in the field due to old age. Poverty pushed another 16 per cent to begging.

Professional beggars, who once dominated the field, constituted only six per cent now. The study attributes the decline in the number of beggars to enforcement of anti-begging laws, frequent raids by municipal corporation authorities, and intervention by agencies such as ‘Childline’.

The strong steps taken by the Railway Protection Force and the State police to check the activities of the begging mafia in the wake of many incidents of trapping children as well as the free rice made available to the poor in Tamil Nadu also brought down the number beggars coming form other states. If the declining trend continues, Kerala may soon become a state free of beggar menace.
what of the begging mafia? it is big business in kerala.


This fasting Baba died away from the spotlight

Sandeep Rawat: Tribune News Service: Haridwar, June 13

While yoga guru Ramdev hogged the media limelight as religious leaders and political dignitaries made a beeline for the Himalayan Hospital at Jollygrant near Rishikesh to offer him juice to end his fast on Sunday, in another room in the same hospital lay another saint, Swami Nigmanand.

The latter had been fasting for the past two months to save the Ganga. Nigmanand died unsung early this morning. During the action-packed past three days, when the political and religious leaders converged at the hospital to meet Ramdev, no one cared to visit the unconscious young saint.

Swami Nigmanand of Matra Sadan passed away at the hospital at 2.30 am, leaving his followers and even his guru shocked. He had been on fast-unto-death since February 19, 2011, for the 68th consecutive day, when he was forcibly hospitalised by the district administration.

Nigmanand, who died at 34, was agitating against illegal quarrying being carried out in the Ganga river-bed with the alleged connivance of officials and quarrying mafia. After several rounds of litigation in the court, Matra Sadan (to which Swami Nigmanand belonged) won the case against illegal quarrying which still continued, forcing the young saint to observe a fast-unto-death to save the Ganga. The founder of the Matra Sadan Ashram, Shivanand Maharaj, the guru of the deceased, has announced that he too would lay down his life on the burning pyre of his disciple, if the state government failed to carry out a high-level probe into the death.

He also demanded the postmortem of Nigmanand to be carried out by doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, (AIIMS), New Delhi, as they no longer have faith in the district administration. He accused the district administration of playing a role in the death of Nigmanand. There was a raging controversy about how the saint was forcibly taken away by the district administration from his ashram and admitted to the district hospital following deterioration of his health on April 27, 2011. He went into coma. According to his associates, he was allegedly administered poison by the doctors, in connivance with the quarrying mafia. Brahamchari Dayanand, an associate of Matra Sadan, alleged that it was during his treatment at Haridwar hospital that a ‘suspicious’ nurse had injected poison into Nigmanand, after which his condition drastically deteriorated. A FIR was also lodged by the ashram functionaries against the medical superintendent of the government hospital at Haridwar

As his condition deteriorated, he was shifted to the Doon hospital but later referred to the Himalayan Hospital at Jollygrant. He did not regain consciousness and died.

Local people too were upset as the news of Swami Nigmanand’s death reached Haridwar. Many termed him equivalent to a true martyr since he was fighting for a social cause, while the administration and the BJP government did not pay any heed to this movement, probably under the influence of the quarrying mafia.

Motives of the state government have been questioned. Especially under the scanner has been the role of the local minister Madan Kaushik who accompanied Ramdev to Jolly Grant hospital but never visited Swami Nigmanand who had been fasting for more than two months.

For the next two days, Nigmanand’s body will be kept at the premises of the Matra Sadan to enable the devotees as well as the common public to pay their last tributes to the departed saint.